Houston Currently Wear the XFL Championship Odds Crown, But for How long?
By: Travis Pulver
When the NFL season hits the halfway point, fans have a pretty good idea of how teams are going to play. But for a start-up league like the XFL, assuming that is the case would be a mistake. Yes, the Houston Roughnecks are undefeated and have generated more points than anyone, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Four of five games were one-possession games. Take away one or two key plays in each, and the Roughnecks could easily be 2-3 or 1-4. But that possibility is not why the whole story hasn’t been told yet.
Yes, the Roughnecks made the plays they needed to make when it mattered most, and they deserve the credit and the recognition they are getting for that. But if we were to compare the Roughnecks to everyone else in the XFL, they are not necessarily better than everyone else.
They were just better prepared to play when the season started than everyone else. With the season halfway over, though, several teams are improving. Are they improving enough to knock the Roughnecks off their high horse?
XFL Championship Odds
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XFL Championship Odds: Still Plenty Of Time For Everyone To Make A Move
Until the Roughnecks are beaten, they deserve to be the clubhouse leader when it comes to championship odds (via PointsBet.com), and they are (+160). But there is reason to be concerned about them. For one, their defense can make plays, but it also gives up too many.
While their offense is good, it can be a little one-dimensional (too reliant on the pass). Walker’s success makes that easy, but he was not so good two weeks ago and picked off twice last week. What if defenses have him figured out?
If teams know they don’t have to fear Houston’s run game, it becomes easier to game plan against Walker.
But if Houston goes down, who is going to step up in the West? Dallas (+750) can’t be counted on to be that team. They need Landry Jones to win, but even if he does return, he helped out the other team as much as his own.
The Wildcats (+800) could become a contender if Houston falls. Twice now, earlier this season against the Defenders and last week against the Vipers, the Los Angeles offense looked good. Josh Johnson was in the zone in both games and got the job done.
If he does it again this week, the rest of the league may need to be concerned. But if he doesn’t—they still should be. The potential is there with Johnson. All he has to do is get hot at the right time, and the Wildcats can beat anyone.
Over in the East Division, the smart money still has to be on St. Louis (+375). But with a loss, last weekend to the Defenders (+475), the margin for error is a lot smaller. The D.C. defense was able to slow down the Battlehawks offensive attack, and when the Defenders needed a big play on defense, they got it.
Was it a convincing win that should vault the Defenders back into contention? Absolutely not, but their defense is good enough to give people fits. If they can ever figure out how to play offense, they could be dangerous.
XFL Championship Odds That the New York Guardians Can Bring a Title to The City
As for the New York Guardians, oddsmakers may be a little optimistic, listing them at +750. Their defense has been playing well, as has their offense since inserting Luis Perez at quarterback. But to become a legitimate contender, Perez is going to need to become more of a threat.
That leaves the Tampa Ba Vipers and Seattle Dragons at +2600.
Seattle has played a lot better in the last two weeks against the XFL’s two best teams (Houston and St. Louis). But until the offense can start generating more points on its own, it is going to be hard seeing them climb out of their hole (possible, but hard).
The Vipers, on the other hand, are capable of generating offense. They just need to become more consistent about it. It wouldn’t hurt to get a little more help from their defense, either. Until they can, like the Dragons, it is going to be hard to see them climb out of the hole.
So—who should you bet on?
That is an excellent question. Houston is the clubhouse leader at the moment but has looked vulnerable. Up until last weekend, St. Louis looked like a great candidate, but maybe the league is catching up with them (as well as Houston).
The Defenders, Wildcats, and Guardians are all within reach. If they can continue to improve…who knows what could happen. Should the Renegades win this week and get Landry Jones back the next, Dallas could become a threat again.
When it comes down to it, the league is still anyone’s to win. With teams growing and improving every week (some more than others), it’s anyone’s guess who is going to win.