XFL Betting Preview: D.C. Defenders

PFN's expert handicapper Chris Smith breaks down D.C. Defenders in his betting preview to start the XFL campaign.

The next stop on our magical 2020 XFL betting tour takes us to the nation’s capital, where the D.C. Defenders are currently at +810 odds (available at MyBookie.com) to win the XFL Championship. D.C. might also feature the most boring uniforms Vince McMahon has to offer. The red and white firefighter look is straight out of Madden’s build-a-franchise mode. Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas has the Defenders estimated win total at 5.5, which puts them right smack in the middle of the pack among XFL teams. Let’s get this D.C. Defenders betting preview started by taking a look at who will be leading them this season.

Can Pep Hamilton get his quarterbacks performing?

The Defenders are coached by Pep Hamilton, who’s best known as Andrew Luck’s former offensive coordinator, first at Stanford University and then with the Indianapolis Colts from 2013-2015. Hamilton was most recently working on Jim Harbaugh’s staff at the University of Michigan. Hamilton is one of three first time head coaches in the XFL this time around.

A roster loaded with talent and potential

The D.C. Defenders may very well boast the most talented QB locker room in the entire league with two former Buffalo Bills filling out the unit. Ohio State National Champion Cardale Jones Is the presumed starter, with Buffalo University standout Tyree Jackson serving as his backup. The Defenders’ front office has provided plenty of weapons for their signal-callers even without the services of their top XFL draft pick Rashard Davis. Davis was picked up late in the NFL season by the AFC runner-up Tennessee Titans. The pass-catching corps include former Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver Eli Rogers and Penn State product DeAndre Thompkins. Rashad “Rocket” Ross rounds out the WR unit, coming to D.C. via trade from the Los Angeles Wildcats in early January. You might remember Ross as the breakout star of the Arizona Hotshots of the now-defunct AAF. 

With all the talent mentioned above at the wide receiver position, you might think Cardale Jones is the best bet to put up weekly monster DFS numbers. However, the success of his running backs might put a damper on Jones’ overall TD totals. The Defenders will employ a two-headed monster at RB featuring San Diego State standout Donnel Pumphrey and AAF single-season rushing leader Jhurell Pressley. Pumphrey is a former 4th round pick with the Philadelphia Eagles who couldn’t seem to stay healthy enough to get on the field in an NFL game despite the game-breaking speed. Meanwhile, Pressley has proven that he can excel as a professional ball carrier. 

The defensive side of the ball is where the D.C. Defenders will hope to live up to their franchise moniker, albeit without as many recognizable names to the casual football fan. Arizona Wildcats LB Scooby Wright is a former All-American who will hope to evolve into the defensive leader. The secondary features two experienced NFL veterans in Matt Elam and Rahim Moore. Elam was an All American at Florida University and 1st round NFL Draft Pick of the Baltimore Ravens. Following a promising rookie season for the Ravens, Elam consistently lost playing time until Baltimore eventually declined to resign him. Rahim Moore is most well known for being the Denver Broncos Safety who was inexcusably beaten deep by Jacoby Jones in the final seconds of the Divisional Round of the AFC Playoffs in 2013. While the Defenders are expected to put up points in bunches this season, it might be the D.C. defense that decides how many potential shootouts they come out victorious in. 

Betting Profile

Championship odds: +810 (5th Highest)
Projected Wins: 5.5 (4th Highest)

From a sports betting perspective (entertainment purposes only), the Defenders have tremendous value, specifically with regards to their Championship Odds. At +810, the Defenders are being treated as one of the league bottom-feeders. However, their 5.5 wins rank as the fourth-highest total in the XFL. The D.C. offense has a plethora of weapons for the strong-armed Cardale Jones and appears to have a potential top two or three team talent-wise on paper. In fact, Jones might have some value as a potential MVP candidate (currently 10-1, according to Sportsbettingdime.com) if everything falls right for the Defenders. The truth is nobody knows exactly how these teams will mesh at this point, but I firmly believe the Defenders are being undervalued in the futures market. They open with two straight home games, including an opener against a Seattle Dragons franchise tabbed to finish in the league basement. A quick start could go a long way toward qualifying for the postseason in a 10-game regular season. You just hope the Defenders don’t eventually regret cutting legendary kicker PFT Commenter come playoff time. I like the D.C. Defenders +810 for around 1 Unit with a $25 futures wager paying out over $200.

1u – D.C. Defenders to Win the 2020 XFL Championship | +810

Pocket Change – Cardale Jones XFL MVP (10-1) 

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