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XFL Guardians improve ... to lousy

A week ago, VSiN discussed the woeful offensive start for the XFL’s New York Guardians. Then they went out and stunk up the joint at St. Louis, falling way behind before rallying for garbage-time yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown. 

The good news — that was an improvement!

New York couldn’t even manage garbage-time yards the week before in a shutout loss to the DC Defenders. The Guardians rose from 137 yards on 2.9 yards per play in Week 2 to 307 yards on 5.6 yards per play last time out — and from a 27-0 loss to a 29-9 loss. 

Handicappers and bettors will look for more improvement Saturday when the Guardians kick off the XFL’s new week vs. the Los Angeles Wildcats (2 p.m., ABC). That’s a bad-body-clock game for the visitors, who were installed as seven-point road favorites despite that possible disadvantage. 

Among the continuing offensive lowlights for New York:

— A ridiculous 4-of-31 conversion rate on third down. The offense constantly leaves itself with long-distance tries and has little idea how to move the chains. If you’re handicapping the XFL, be sure you know which offenses can move the chains and which defenses get stops.

— Only three touchdown drives all season, from 48, 57 and 40 yards. Through three games, offensive points on drives of 60 yards or more: Houston 55, St. Louis 45, Dallas 37 (34 in two games with Landry Jones at QB), Los Angeles 32, Seattle 31, DC 22, Tampa Bay 9, New York 0. (Those numbers include conversions after touchdowns.)

Oddsmakers have soured on the Guardians after recent results. New York is priced this week as the worst team in the XFL. VSiN’s Jeff Parles, whom you know from “A Numbers Game” and “Market Watch,” and I have compiled estimated market Power Ratings for the league from this week’s settled point spreads. Because you might not have memorized which nicknames go with which cities, we’ll post them as follows:

— Houston 85, DC 84, St. Louis 84, Los Angeles 82, Dallas 81, Tampa Bay 79, Seattle 76, New York 72.

As with our NFL estimates, assisted by Jonathan Von Tobel, we use a standard three points for home-field advantage. That could turn out to be too low in this league. The average result through 12 games is a win of 9.1 points for hosts, with midpoints of 8 and 12. Visitors’ extreme turnover differential of 30 to hosts’ eight is expected to regress. 

The Guardians’ 23-3 season-opening home win over Tampa Bay was keyed by a 3-0 turnover advantage. 

Here’s the rest of this weekend’s XFL card: Seattle at St. Louis (5 p.m. Saturday, FOX), Houston at Dallas (4 p.m. Sunday, FS1), DC at Tampa Bay (7 p.m. Sunday, ESPN2).

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