After nearly 20 years away, the XFL returned last week to what should be seen as a successful revival. Now, all attention moves toward week two and the rest of the season as this new league hopes to continue to promote its goal of showing fans football in an entirely different way.
Kicking off today’s Sunday games this week is the showdown between the (1-0) Los Angeles Wildcats and (0-1) Dallas Renegades (3pm ET on ABC).
Reunited And It Feels So Good
Week one of the XFL held some surprises as the new league began to find its footing. For starters, there was the loss of the Dallas Renegades, who were the sportsbooks’ favorites to take home the championship in April.
The Renegades struggled behind backup quarterback Philip Nelson. Landry Jones, who was one of the top names involved in this rebooted league, was injured during camp and unable to take the field. All eyes will be on the former Pittsburgh Steelers backup QB in week two as Jones prepares to make his first start in a professional football game since 2017.
The former fourth round pick of the Steelers, Landry Jones should bring a dimension to Dallas’ offense that was sorely missing in week one, especially as he reunites with former college head coach, Bob Stoops. Under Stoops at Oklahoma, Jones completed over 63 percent of his passes, tossed for over 16,600 yards and had 123 touchdowns to 52 interceptions. It was quite the college career and one that resulted in a lot of success for the Sooners, including a Fiesta Bowl Victory and Big 12 Championship in 2010.
In the NFL, Jones has made just five career starts, but holds a 3-2 record, which in XFL terms, makes him one perhaps the most successful and experienced NFL quarterback set to take the field.
Dallas will certainly look to Jones to help spark what was a lackluster offense in week one. Nelson finished with the second lowest yards among the XFL quarterbacks as well as one interception and no touchdowns. The run game didn’t fare any better as former Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar couldn’t find any room to run for his new Dallas team, managing just 27 yards on five carries in the loss. The Renegades suffered defensively as well, with no players totaling more than six tackles and no player recording an interception. Jones won’t be able to fix that, but the hope is with a strong arm under center, that Dallas’ offense can make up for the team’s defensive woes.
Paging Josh Johnson
Dallas won’t be the only team expected to start a new quarterback in week two as LA is likely to go with Josh Johnson in place of Chad Kanoff, who played okay in the Wildcats’ week one victory.
As of now, Johnson is listed as questionable as he was a limited participant in practice during the week. A veteran NFL backup having started for the Washington Redskins, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Johnson went just 1-7 in his NFL career.
In his college career at San Diego, Johnson played well, tossing for almost 9,700 yards, 113 touchdowns and just 15 interceptions. Johnson also excelled among his colleagues in the 2008 NFL Combine, posting the best time for the 40-yard dash and top height in the vertical jump.
Those are the things to watch for with Johnson. While he hasn’t played professional football since 2018, Johnson still possesses some of that same speed and pocket awareness. Accuracy will be a question, given in his NFL career Johnson threw for just eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Kanoff’s week one numbers were a bit of a mixed bag. He threw one touchdown (and rushed for another), one interception and completed 53 percent of his passes. So it wasn’t necessarily a bad start, though there were spots where it was clear there was some football rust. A former quarterback for Princeton, Kanoff last played professional football in 2017 prior to joining the XFL and making his first start last week.
Whether the Wildcats go with Kanoff or Johnson could well have an impact on other facets of the offense given both men are prone to a different style of play. That said, LA did find success last week on the ground with Elijah Hood, who rushed for 43 yards on 12 carries.
Unlike many of the other teams, LA focused solely on Hood as their lead back, with just Hood and Kanoff receiving opportunities to carry the ball. One of the other areas LA found success was Kanoff targeting Nelson Spruce, who caught 11 of the Wildcat QB’s 21 completed passes. This mark nearly doubled that of the next highest pass catchers. Spruce totaled 103 yards on the day, much of which came from short passes that kept Kanoff comfortable while slowly navigating the middle of the field. Spruce was more than reliable for his QB and it’s likely, whether Kanoff or Johnson takes the field on Sunday, that he’ll once again be one of the top targeted guys of the week.
Our Betting Preview’s Dallas Renegades vs Los Angeles Wildcats Predictions & XFL Picks Verdict
Betting on the XFL with the top American offshore betting sites has proved to be an interesting endeavor thus far as elements such as the 1-2 and 3 point extra point plays have affected spreads as well as totals. Much like its NFL counterpart, at the end of the day, much of what goes into betting on football is on predicting team-wide performances.
Dallas entered the season as championship favorites for a reason and much of that was hinged on Stoops and Jones. With the two together again today, look for Dallas to get its first win in a big way.
LA played well last week but in this game, we’ll see what the Dallas team can do at its full potential. These are our Dallas Renegades vs Los Angeles Wildcats predictions for this XFL game preview:
- Take the Renegades -5pts @ -110 with Intertops. They are -5.5pts or -6pts with the others.
- As for the total points, it is set at a somewhat conservative looking 46.5pts. With big expectations for Jones in his XFL debut, this preview is predicting the over on this mark. Go over 46.5pts @ -110 with Bovada, 5Dimes, Bookmaker or BetOnline.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.