Betting markets weren’t impressed with the New York Guardians’ upset win over the Los Angeles Wildcats last weekend. New York will still be getting close to a touchdown Saturday when it visits the Dallas Renegades (5 p.m., FOX), who just lost star quarterback Landry Jones to injury.
What’s not to like about a double-digit cover? New York’s offense is still a work in progress:
— If you watched the win, you could tell that moving the chains had become a point of emphasis. VSiN mentioned before kickoff that the Guardians had been a woeful 4 of 31 on third-down conversions. That improved to 5 of 13. Yes, 38% is better than 13%, but it’s still not enough to consistently march down the field.
— New York totaled just 250 yards on 4.2 yards per play, managing only one touchdown.
— Starting quarterback Luis Perez earned justified plaudits for playing smart and avoiding mistakes. But he threw for only 129 net passing yards on 26 attempts. The second half was basically dink and dunk — and punt.
New York’s defense, however, could deserve a lot more credit than it is receiving from oddsmakers. It held the Wildcats to 2 of 12 (17%) on third-down conversions while allowing just two offensive touchdowns. It also held rising league power St. Louis to two offensive TDs the week before and DC to two offensive TDs after keeping Tampa Bay out of the end zone in the opener.
That defense might have to drive a point-spread cover against a Dallas team forced to use seemingly overmatched Philip Nelson at quarterback. Jones aggravated a knee injury late in last week’s home loss to Houston. Nelson didn’t lead the Renegades to any TDs in a season-opening start vs. St. Louis and threw a short, wobbly pass that led to a last-minute interception inside the 5-yard line last week.
A road upset would help New York rise from the bottom of VSiN’s estimated market Power Ratings. Here’s an update, with collaboration from Jeff Parles (“A Numbers Game” and “Market Watch”):
— Houston 86, St. Louis 86, Tampa Bay 81, DC 80, Los Angeles 79, Dallas 77 (with Nelson at QB), Seattle 76, New York 73.
Those are based on settled late-week point spreads. VSiN uses a standard three points for home-field advantage.
Here’s the rest of this weekend’s card for XFL bettors: Seattle at Houston (2 p.m. Saturday, ABC), St. Louis at DC (3 p.m. Sunday, FS1) and Tampa Bay at Los Angeles (9 p.m. Sunday, ESPN).
Note for stat handicappers: Be aware of errors in box scores posted at the league’s website, xfl.com. Last week’s team yards-per-play data doesn’t line up with yards and plays. For example, New York is shown gaining 250 yards on 59 plays for 2.7 yards per play. But 250 divided by 59 is 4.2. Also, turnovers in Week 1 didn’t correspond to interceptions plus lost fumbles.