With the championship game of that other football league finally in the books, the calendar now turns to the debut season of the new XFL. The startup league begins play this weekend with four, Week 1 games, and bookmakers seem more than happy to let the public place their bets.
Two XFL games will take place Saturday, with two more on Sunday, as all eight teams make their official debuts.
XFL Not Shying Away from Betting Odds
The XFL season consists of 10 weeks of play, with all eight teams in action each week. At the end of the season, four teams will make the two-round playoff in order to determine a champion.
One thing fans will notice immediately is that the league isn’t shying away from discussions of betting or point spreads. Announcers won’t emphasize the gambling aspect of football, but they won’t be asked to avoid it or talk around it, either.
“We aren’t forcing it,” Fox Sports spokesman Andrew Fegyveresi told USA Today Sports. “If our announcers are comfortable with it and want to discuss it, they can do so. It’ll be more organic.”
Games on ESPN and ABC will have slightly more betting content, with the lines for games listed in the score graphic at the bottom of the screen.
“We want what our fans want, and many of our fans enjoy legal betting on football,” FXL president and COO Jeffrey Pollack said in a statement. “Integrating the point spreads and betting lines into our broadcasts will create a more robust viewing experience that deepens our fan engagement and connectivity.”
Several bookmakers have point spreads available for Week 1, as well as futures odds on the XFL champion. That’s all despite the fact that none of these teams have played a single game. The only action so far has come from preseason scrimmages that were more about figuring out depth charts and fighting for roster spots than trying to win.
Vipers, Renegades Among Week 1 Favorites
Still, there is some consensus on who the top teams in the XFL are likely to be. The marquee matchup of Week 1 pits the Tampa Bay Vipers (-2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook) against the home New York Guardians. The Vipers sit as +400 co-favorites to win the XFL championship, with the Guardians (+430) not far behind.
The Vipers boast one of the more heralded quarterbacks in the league, as they’ll start Georgia standout Aaron Murray. The four-year college starter still holds the SEC records for most career passing yards and touchdowns.
Murray leads the Tampa Bay offense against a Guardians defense stacked with fringe NFL talent. That includes cornerback Jamar Summers, who bounced around several NFL training camps after playing at UConn, and safety Demetrious Cox, who spent time in camp and on practice squads for the Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers, and Arizona Cardinals.
XFL Week 1 Odds
- Seattle Dragons (+7.5) vs. DC Defenders
- Los Angeles Wildcats (+5.5) vs. Houston Roughnecks
- Tampa Bay Vipers (-2) vs. New York Guardians
- St. Louis BattleHawks (+10) vs. Dallas Renegades
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
The Dallas Renegades (+400) come into the season as the other XFL championship favorite, in large part thanks to recognizable names like head coach Bob Stoops, quarterback Landry Jones, and running back Lance Dunbar.
In Week 1, the Renegades take on one of the least-regarded teams in the XFL, the St. Louis BattleHawks (+1000 to win the XFL championship). FanDuel has installed Dallas as a 10-point home favorite, the largest spread in any of the opening weekend games.