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Home-field advantage seems to be a wagering play in the XFL

DC Defenders v Los Angeles Wildcats
Wildcats quarterback Johnson Josh throws a pass against the DC Defenders on Sunday at Dignity Health Sports Park.
(Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images)

We’re three weeks into the XFL season and we’re seeing some trends and patterns that make it easier to project how this league is playing out on the field.

XFL favorites are 8-4 straight up (SU) and 6-6 against the spread (ATS) through three weeks. Home teams are 8-4 SU and ATS as home-field advantage has started strong. Unders are 8-4 after going 6-2 through two weeks. Oddsmakers have adjusted downward with the lower-than-expected scoring, and expect totals to be right around .500 in the future.

One of the big questions going into the season was how the conversion rules (no kicking but instead going for one point from the 2-yard line, two points from the 5-yard line and three points from the 10-yard line) would affect the “key numbers” of 3 and 7 that we’ve become accustomed to in “regular” football. It’s only through 12 games, but two games have been decided by 7 points, so that seems as much of a key number as before, and two others by 12. Surprisingly, the most common margin, with three instances, has been 20 points. Anyway, it is interesting that we do have one game this week with a spread of 7 and another with a spread of 12. Here are some takes on this weekend’s four XFL matchups.

L.A. Wildcats president Heather Karatz realizes she’s an aspirational example as one of the few women in a high-ranking job with a pro sports team.
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Wildcats (-7) at New York Guardians (Over/Under 41)

I figured out the average points for and against for all eight teams and came up with the projected scores for this week’s matchups. The numbers for this game came out to Wildcats 22-17, or Wildcats -5 with an Over/ Under of 39. Even though that’s lower then the current line of 7, you should pass on the Guardians after their lackluster performances the last two weeks. The Wildcats lost their first two games but improved a lot from Week 1 to Week 2 as Josh Johnson made his debut in a 25-18 loss to preseason title favorite Dallas. The Wildcats then routed the DC Defenders 39-9 in Week 3, so you would need a lot more points to back New York here. The Over/Under is right around league average, so no thanks on that either. Best Bet: Pass.

Seattle Dragons at St. Louis BattleHawks (-12) (O/U 38.5)

St. Louis was expected to be among the worst teams in the league, but the BattleHawks are 2-1 SU and a league-best 3-0 ATS. In this game, they’re the biggest favorite of the season so far. However, this line is adjusted too high after their 29-9 rout of New York. The average stats have this as St. Louis winning 22-15.5, or St. Louis -6.5 with an O/U of 37.5. That’s very close on the total, but we’re getting a 5.5-point edge with the Dragons +12. Seattle has been competitive even in its losses, and as much as St. Louis has overachieved, the BattleHawks’ offense is averaging just 22.7 points per game. So if we can get Seattle to score close to its 16-point average, we can get the cover. Best Bet: Seattle Dragons +12.

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The Los Angeles Wildcats of the XFL draw quite an energetic response from their new fans, something the Chargers have missed out since their return to L.A.

Houston Roughnecks (-1) at Dallas Renegades (O/U 50)

This is the marquee matchup of Week 4, with undefeated Houston visiting Dallas. The Renegades were the preseason favorites before losing to St. Louis in Week 1, but now they have won two straight since Landry Jones returned. Houston, led by MVP front-runner P.J. Walker, is the highest-scoring team in the league at 33 points per game. But Dallas has the top defense, allowing just 15 points per game. The average stats put this as a Houston 24-21 win, or Houston -3 with a total of 45. The books actually made Dallas a short home favorite, but now the public has bet Houston to favoritism, so the Renegades are the best bet of the week. Remember, even though Houston is 3-0, the Roughnecks are 1-2 ATS and have failed to cover their last two games, including their first road test last week at Tampa Bay. Best Bet: Dallas Renegades +1 or better.

DC Defenders (-2.5) at Tampa Bay Vipers (O/U 44.5)

The early-season stats have this as DC winning 23.5-16, or DC -7.5 with an O/U of 39.5. It was stunning when some books opened 0-3 Tampa Bay as a short home favorite, even though DC was blown out 39-9 by Los Angeles and the Vipers covered in their 34-27 loss to Houston. Tampa Bay is better than its 0-3 record, but it’s difficult to see how that performance would have them favored over a DC team that was looking like one of the best teams in the XFL before it stumbled last week. Even though it’s good to see the Vipers back to the underdog role, this is still nearly a touchdown short of where the line should be. Best Bet: Pass.

USC and UCLA play Arizona and Arizona State this week on the eve of the Pac-12 tournament. All have performed well against the spread lately.

An NCAA strategy

Last week, we mentioned that unranked home teams have been great bets against Top 25 teams this season. Our listed weekend plays went 4-2 ATS with Providence beating No. 19 Marquette, TCU beating No. 17 West Virginia and Memphis beating No. 22 Houston on Saturday (with Xavier and North Carolina State falling short against No. 12 Villanova and No. 8 Florida State) and Indiana beating No. 9 Penn State on Sunday. If you continued the trend into this week, it went 4-1 ATS on Monday and Tuesday with Texas upsetting West Virginia (now at No. 20) on Monday and Wake Forest upsetting No. 7 Duke on Tuesday while Oklahoma knocked off No. 22 Texas Tech with George Mason covering in a loss to No. 4 Dayton. Here are this weekend’s potential plays:

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Saturday: Kansas State vs. No. 1 Kansas; TCU vs. No. 2 Baylor; Clemson vs. No. 6 Florida State; Marquette vs. No. 13 Seton Hall; Virginia vs. No. 7 Duke; Pepperdine vs. No. 17 BYU; Nevada vs. No. 5 San Diego State.

Sunday: St. John’s vs. No. 10 Creighton; Stanford vs. No. 21 Colorado.

Dave Tuley writes for VSiN.com, the Sports Betting Network.


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