Why the Houston Roughnecks Sit atop the XFL Championship Odds Board
By: Travis Pulver
The Houston Roughnecks were expected to face a real challenge in the Dallas Renegades last weekend, and it is safe to say they did. But, just like the first three weeks of the season, they managed to come out on top in the end. As the only undefeated team, they deserve to be the championship favorite.
Some would say yes, but there could be a very good reason to say no. Houston got another good game out of P.J. Walker, but Walker and the Houston offense didn’t do much. The defense forced five turnovers during the game, but it still went down to the wire despite Dallas losing Landry Jones late in the game.
An argument could be made for another team winning the XFL title this season. But does that mean you should bet on someone else?
XFL Championship Odds
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XFL Championship Odds: Don’t Overlook—Well, Anyone
It would be easy to write off most of the league and focus on a couple of teams as title contenders. But the harsh truth with start-up sports leagues like the XFL is that the first season is all about the learning curve.
Just because a team was hot out of the gate like the D.C. Defenders (+800, odds via PointsBet.com) or ice-cold like the New York Guardians or Tampa Bay Vipers (XFL Championship Odds: +2200) means nothing. With the coaches and players having been together for only a few weeks at this point, everyone is still learning.
Players are learning how to be better in their respective systems, and coaches are learning which guys are better suited for their system.
There were high hopes for the Vipers offense with Aaron Murray behind center, but they have looked good the last two weeks with Taylor Cornelius at QB. Matt McGloin and the Guardians offense were the definition of ‘struggle bus’ for the first three weeks. But the Guardians offense looked good with Luis Perez at the helm.
Does that mean either team is worth betting on? If the Guardians odds were still what they were last week (+1600), it would be easier to say yes—but they jumped up to +800 after Saturday’s win over Los Angeles.
The LA Wildcats showed a lot of promise against the Defenders in Week Three but failed to carry it over to their Week Four game against the Guardians (a 17-14 loss). So, it isn’t shocking that their odds slipped from +1100 to +1200.
Why the Tampa Bay Vipers XFL Championship Odds Got a Big Boost
As for the Vipers, their odds got a well-deserved bump from +5000 to +2200 after thumping Cardale Jones and the Defenders 25-0. If the Vipers offense can continue to produce behind Cornelius, gamblers may want to get their money down now before the odds get even shorter.
But the Defenders are spiraling. Once again, their defense could do little, and their offense did even less. Their odds took a significant dip this week (from +300 to +800), but their downward trajectory may not be over yet.
Seattle takes over the tail end spot this week with the longest odds in the league at +4000 (+3300 last week). They didn’t have a terrible game against the St. Louis Battlehawks (23-16 loss), but their offense is uninspired.
That leaves the three front runners—Houston, St. Louis, and Dallas.
Despite three early interceptions and five total turnovers, the Dallas Renegades were in Sunday’s game against Houston until the end and only lost by seven. With how Houston’s offense had looked and with so many turnovers, a bigger deficit would have been expected.
Had they not lost Landry Jones to another knee injury, it would not have been shocking to see their odds improve. But instead, they fell from +450 to +500. Their odds will probably fall further in the future with Landry likely down for the season.
The Houston Roughnecks got a slight bump in their odds from +180 to +160. Walker and the offense were still good against Dallas but not as good. With the defense contributing five turnovers and coming up with some clutch stops, you could say it was a complete game by the Roughnecks last week.
But at the same time, you could say the Houston defense helped keep Dallas in the game and is incapable of closing out a game.
That leaves the St. Louis Battlehawks at +225. With their run-oriented offense, they are not going to score as much as the Roughnecks do. But they have a good offense with arguably the best player in the league at quarterback, Jordan T’ Amu (yes, better than P.J. Walker).
Should they meet Houston in the title game, it could be one of the more entertaining football games of the year. But with every team growing and changing each week, there is no telling who could be the last two teams left standing in the end.