Less than a week after the Super Bowl, the XFL kicked off it’s 2020 season with a bang. Attendees flocked in soccer-sized crowds to watch the games, fans watched from their couches at home, and the very early returns for the league are trending positive.
The product was decent to good depending on who you ask, the rule changes often added to the excitement and flow of the game, and former NCAA and NFL players gave fans some familiar faces to root for. There were defensive battles, offensive showcases, and plenty of highlight plays.
Picking the second batch of games, in any sport or any league, is always the hardest. Did a team do well in Week 1 because they were truly dominant, or did their opponent just play very poorly?
Those questions will be answered in Week 2, as all four matchups feature teams with identical records. Highlights include an East Conference clash that has the makings of a rivalry and a duel featuring the two most electric quarterbacks from Week 1.
I didn’t pick the Week 1 games, as I felt like the rosters alone weren’t enough for me to make an educated pick out of. But now that we’ve seen all eight teams in action, read on for the first ever XFL picks from Sak Sports Blog.
New York Guardians (1-0) at D.C. Defenders (1-0)
Time: 2:00 PM ET, Saturday, February 15
Location: Audi Field, Washington D.C.
The XFL’s second week opens with a matchup of two of the best looking teams from Week 1. Cardale Jones and the Defenders pulled away in the second half against a decent effort from Seattle Dragons quarterback Brandon Silvers. The Guardians completely outclassed the the Tampa Bay Vipers, winning 23-3 in MetLife Stadium.
This duel pits two quarterbacks with NFL roster experience, though Guardians quarterback Matt McGloin has stared in the NFL while Jones has not.
‘While being the best matchup on paper of the XFL’s second week, it also pits the Guardians and Defenders for the first time of two matchups in what shapes up to be an XFL East Conference rivalry.
I like the Guardians to win due to their stifling defense. The Defenders defense picked up in the second half last week, but New York led a wire-to-wire effort, allowing the fewest points in the league. I expect a close mid-20’s game in what should be a fun one.
Guardians 26 – Defenders 20
Tampa Bay Vipers (0-1) at Seattle Dragons (0-1)
Time: 5:00 PM ET / 2:00 PM PT, Saturday, February 15
Location: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Washington
Both teams are looking for their first win of the season, but one was far more competitive than the other in Week 1: or so it would seem.
Despite scoring a league-low 3 points in Week 1, the Vipers actually outgained the Guardians 394-226. But two interceptions by Aaron Murray, and the inability to finish drives ultimately doomed Tampa Bay. The Dragons were competitive against the Guardians until a pick six thrown by Brandon Silvers turned the tides in favor of the Guardians.
Basically, while both teams lost by multiple scores, they were able to move the ball throughout the game. Turnovers could run rampant again, resulting in a tight back and forth game. I like this one to be a little higher scoring, with a couple defensive scores mixed in.
The Vipers did hold the Guardians to 1-of-10 on third down, and only allowed two offensive touchdowns to New York. With Seattle’s defense looking a little more suspect, I think Aaron Murray the Vipers pull off a road victory.
Vipers 30 – Dragons 21
Dallas Renegades (0-1) at LA Wildcats (0-1)
Time: 3:00 PM ET / 12:00 PM PT, Sunday, February 16
Location: Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, California
Neither of these teams put up a horrible performance last week, but both have room for improvement and will look to re-group in Week 2.
The Wildcats had a 17-12 on the Roughnecks before Houston rattled off 25 straight points. Los Angeles defense had arguably the worst performance of any team in Week 1 because of this. Dallas, on the other hand, did a good job keeping their game in check despite a strong performance from BattleHawks quarterback Jordan Ta’amu. The Renegades would lose 15-9, scoring only on three field goals. But just reaching the endzone once could have changed the outcome of that game.
This game could be another grinder: that is, if the Wildcats defense can buckle down after last week’s poor showing. The defense was often exposed by Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker’s rushing ability, but luckily for Los Angeles, Renegades quarterback Philip Nelson was the only starter not to log a rushing attempt in Week 1.
I like the Renegades to slowly pull away in this game, scoring a couple touchdowns in the process, and ultimately holding the Wildcats offense under 20 points.
Renegades 23 – Wildcats 15
St. Louis BattleHawks (1-0) at Houston Roughnecks (1-0)
Time: 6:00 PM ET / 5:00 PM CT, Sunday, February 16
Location: TDECU Stadium, Houston, Texas
The second week of XFL action both starts and ends with two great matchups of Week 1 winners. Specifically, Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker and BattleHawks quarterback Jordan Ta’amu pits two of the best gun-slingers from the XFL’s opening week.
Walker lit up the Wildcats defense for 272 yards and 4 passing touchdowns, while adding 26 yards on the ground, but mostly using his legs to extend plays in the pocket. Ta’amu was the 2nd-most accurate Week 1 quarterback, completing 74% of his passes, and also had the most rushing yards by a quarterback (77 yards on 9 carries including 37-yard quarterback draw.)
If these two quarterbacks play anything like they did in their opening games, BattleHawks at Roughnecks could become must-watch football.
While both teams had impressive Week 1 wins, the Roughnecks put up the most points in the league (37) while the BattleHawks had the lowest scoring total of a winning team (15.) Hopefully St. Louis can find more scoring in this matchup to make it a fun duel. But if Walker can throw for a few more touchdown passes, Houston should come out on top at home.
Roughnecks 29 – BattleHawks 19
Header Photo Credit: USA Today Sports
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