XFL Week 2 preview: Texas two-step between Renegades and Roughnecks leads slate
The recently reimagined XFL opened the season over the weekend, and despite interesting rules and big name NFL names, it didn’t disappoint with competitive and high-scoring games.
The first week was marked by the incredible return of the St. Louis BattleHawks, led by quarterback A.J. McCarron. McCarron threw two touchdown passes and converted the fourth and 15th passes of the game from his 25-yard line, instead of the typical kick of the game, to retain possession. This was key in helping the Battlehawks close a 12-point gap with 1:40 left in the fourth quarter and lead them to an 18–15 win over the San Antonio Brahmas.
Week 2 will see the BattleHawks vs Sea Dragons on Thursday, followed by a 1-0 matchup on Sunday between the Arlington Renegades and the Houston Roughnecks. The Roughnecks were the only team to score over 30 points in the first week, and the Renegades responded with two interceptions for touchdowns on the opening weekend.
Teams will play 10 games on consecutive weekends through April 23, including playoff semi-final games April 29-30. The championship game is scheduled for May 13.
Here’s what to expect in Week 2, plus picks from Sportzshala sports betting insider Doug Kezirian. Lines provided by Caesars Sportsbook.
St. Louis BattleHawks to Seattle Sea Dragons
Thursday 9:00 pm ET | Forex/Sportzshala+
Spreading: SEA -3.0 (36.5)
The Battlehawks made a miraculous comeback in Week 1 against the Brahmas and are looking to start quickly and improve their offensive line by allowing five sacks. The Sea Dragons are looking to bounce back after losing their Week 1 match against DC Defenders 22-18. The Sea Dragons lost in the closing moments when quarterback Ben DiNucci fumbled the Defenders’ 1-yard line with 19 seconds left.
Players to watch: McCarron completed 69% of his passes for 190 yards and was the only quarterback in the XFL to throw two touchdown passes and never intercept in the first week. DiNucci threw for 282 yards in his first week, the most in the XFL, but had three seconds of half turnover. Former All-Pro wide receiver Josh Gordon had six receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown.
Kezirian’s choice: I think Seattle is the best team and St. Louis was very lucky to beat San Antonio last weekend. The BattleHawks were having trouble blocking the entire game and only managed three points with minutes left in that game. Now DiNucci has also been extremely shaky, posting a wide range of highs and lows. With a spread of -3 points, I’m leaning towards Seattle. Moving forward, with such a unique league conversion format, we might end up finding that the money lines make a lot of sense. I could see the -165 money line price has value, but right now I’m leaning towards Seattle (-3) minus points.
DC Defenders in Vegas Vipers
Saturday 7:00 pm ET | Forex/Sportzshala/Sportzshala+
Spreading: HCV-3 (36.5)
The defenders found a way to defeat the Sea Dragons even though they lost 333-177. DC’s defense supported the team with three turnovers, one of which was a six of spades. Vipers quarterback Luis Pérez also had football defense issues, as he found himself on the wrong end of the Renegades’ two-six picks in a 22–20 loss.
Players to watch: Pérez threw three touchdowns, making him the league leader after the first week. Wide receiver Jeff Badet hit for two touchdowns and 81 receiving yards. Defensive linebacker Michael Joseph was the only player in the XFL to intercept two passes, returning one for a touchdown.
Kezirian: D.C. offenses have been very limited in the past week and I’m not sure the issue has been resolved. I expect Luis Perez to be able to create enough attacks and that the Vipers defense will hold DC back. Vipers -3
Back to work. 2 weeks, let’s go. #DefendDC | #XFL2023 pic.twitter.com/vZSBs7PIDn
— DC Defenders (@XFLDefenders) February 22, 2023
San Antonio Brahmas at the Orlando Guardians
Sunday 4:00 pm ET | Sportzshala/Sportzshala+
Spreading: SA -3 (38.5)
This is the only match between two unbeaten teams. The Brahmas ground attack worked well in the first week as they rushed for a league-leading 133 yards. However, their last-minute loss to the BattleHawks exposed their defense a bit. The Guardians were the only team to lose by double figures.
Players to watch: Brahmas running back Kalen Ballaghe, who played four seasons in the NFL, had 24 carries for 84 yards, the most in the first week. Guardians wide receiver Andrew Jamiel had three catches for 80 yards and one touchdown last week. Guardian Guardian Matt Elam, a former Baltimore Ravens first-round NFL player in 2013, was intercepted.
Kezirian: Orlando is clearly the worst team, but they could show improvement if they keep QB Paxton Lynch on the bench. San Antonio QB Jack Coan proved to be effective when he settled down. Brahmas head coach Hynes Ward made a couple of mistakes, but I doubt Terrell Buckley and the Guardians will be able to expose him. Brahmas -3
Arlington Renegades at Houston Roughnecks
Sunday 7:00 pm ET | Sportzshala2/Sportzshala+
Spreading: NEW -4.5 (40)
Last week, the Roughnecks had the most offensive yards (337) and the most points (33) in the league. The Renegades were able to close a 14–3 halftime gap in a 2-point win after a stellar defensive performance.
Players to watch:
Roughnecks quarterback Brandon Silvers completed 61% of his passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions. On the other side of the ball, linebacker Trent Harris had four sacks. Renegades tight end Sal Cannella had seven catches for 70 yards.
Kezirian: The Roughnecks’ defense dominated the opposition, but a lot of that was down to Orlando’s ineptitude. This game features quality quarterbacks and they need to be able to generate enough offense to cash in an over. over 40
The work has not been completed. It’s a new week, which means a new hurdle. Time to prepare and execute! pic.twitter.com/ictjJkEE0d
— Houston Roughnecks (@XFLRoughnecks) February 20, 2023