The XFL is making its long-awaited return to our televisions the Saturday after the Super Bowl. On February 8th, after nearly a 20-year hiatus, the Vince McMahon-led football league will kick off with two nationally televised games. That means we football fans and gamblers only have six days to wait until we have more football to wager on. Over the next week, the Pro Football Network betting team will take a look at each of the eight XFL teams. We start with a Dallas Renegades betting preview. We will run down their rosters, give you our impressions on their season win totals, and let you know if there is any value on their championship odds.
To kick things off, we will take a look at the current favorites to win it all, the Dallas Renegades.
Championship Odds: +300
Season-long win total: O/U 6
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
Quarterbacks: Landry Jones, Eric Dungey, Philip Nelson
Make sure to read all of our team previews so far here: New York Guardians, St. Louis Battlehawks. If you do not yet know the difference between the XFL vs the NFL, make sure to read our comprehensive breakdown of all the new rules.
Is Stoops’ experience enough to get the Renegades a championship?
Stoops is one of the XFL’s head coaches that has the most experience. He spent the majority of his career with the Oklahoma Sooners. He was their head coach for 17 seasons and is the only head coach in the BCS era to have won the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and Sugar Bowl. He won the National Championship in 2000 and is 190-48 in his career.
Stoops’ success with Oklahoma made him the center of many NFL coaching searches, as well as other college programs, which he repeatedly turned away. He remained with the Sooners and led them to one successful season after another. In 2017, he announced his retirement from college coaching. It took only two years until he accepted the Renegades role.
Stoops has taken the idea of the XFL and has run with it. In several interviews, he spoke about how confident he is of its potential and how excited he is for the quality of talent he has on his roster.
“I’ve got a bunch of good-looking players, looking forward to working with them. I told someone yesterday that it’s like I’ve got all fifth-year seniors. All these guys know how to play and a bunch of good athletes, so it’s going to be exciting and fun.”
One of the reasons that the Renegades are considered the favorites for the XFL title is the coaching staff that Stoops has put together. He brought with him an assistant from Oklahoma to run the defense, Chris Woods. The most exciting hire, however, has to be the Renegades offensive coordinator Hal Mumme. Mumme is considered to be the “godfather of the Air Raid” offense.
“I’m excited to work with Hal,” Stoops said. “He knows [the offense] inside and out. He’s always had success moving the football and putting up points. Hopefully, he’ll be able to do that with us.”
You can imagine that this Dallas team is going to be creative offensively and will be able to put up points under Mumme. Look for Mumme’s offense to use a lot of short passes to multiple receivers and RB’s out of the backfield, a staple of the Air Raid scheme. Mumme spent 20 years as HC or OC at seven different schools across four levels of college football.
Will the roster be able to capitalize on the coaching talent?
Obviously, one of the main concerns with the XFL is the same as the leagues that have failed before it: the quality of players. Because the league is considered the much younger brother to the NFL, they are only able to recruit talent that the bigger professional league no longer wants. With time, this is likely to change, but at the moment, the rosters are full of names that have faded out of popularity.
The Renegades have some of the most recognizable names in football on their roster. One of the most recognizable for Dallas is quarterback Landry Jones. Jones already has a connection with Stoops, having started at Oklahoma for four years. Jones had 123 TDs vs. just 52 INTs at a solid 7.6 yards per attempt as a Sooner, and then spent most of the past six years backing up Ben Roethlisberger with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Jones will likely be the key to the success of the team — and will be the most criticized if it fails. Only four other QBs among the 21 kept on “final” 52-man rosters were drafted into the NFL. He will have the spotlight on him in this high flying offense. However, he has been suffering through a knee injury during the offseason. His availability for Week 1 is in question. This could be important when looking at their season win total of six. If Jones doesn’t play the first week, that could be one loss to their record. With such a high win total, you might need Jones to play the first week to get the over.
To help with Jones, the Renegades have the best WR corps in the XFL, in my opinion. In this year’s draft, they actually spent their first two picks on wide receivers, so you can see how Mumme and Stoops value the offensive attack. Jazz Ferguson was on an NFL roster at the beginning of last season with the Seattle Seahawks and was turning heads in training camp. It was a surprise when they let him go. In the preseason, he posted seven receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown. With 4.45-second speed and a pass-friendly offense, the 23-year-old could be set up to break out.
Alongside Ferguson in the offense will be Jeff Badet. Badet is even faster than Ferguson, having clocked a 4.39-second 40-yard dash. The small receiver has similar attributes to Tyreek Hill, and even though he wasn’t drafted, he did have an impressive college career (three years at Kentucky and one at Oklahoma). The Dallas coaching staff clearly liked the 25 year-old, selecting him in Round 1 of the skill position draft.
A look at what the bookmakers think and where we see value
As we mentioned above, the Renegades are the odds on favorite to win the XFL championship. At +300, I don’t think there is enough value to place a wager on them. This is still a league that we haven’t seen before, and we have little idea of how these teams will perform. Remember, the Orlando Apollos of the now-debunked AAF league were eventually “crowned” the champions, and they went into the season with the third-worst odds. Taking the favorite in the inaugural season is not the best way to win money.
That is why I will lean to the over on the win total. Even with the injury to Jones, this team’s offensive weapons and coaching experience will be too much to handle. Taking a look at their schedule, they open up with the St. Louis Battlehawks. The Battlehawks are expected to be the worst team in the XFL. They also play the Seattle Dragons twice, whose odds to win it all are as bad as the Battlehawks. With that in mind, I think the over six wins is the best way to play the Renegades.
I will start the XFL season off with a two-unit wager on the Dallas Renegades to get over six wins. When more odds become available, I will likely look to find an alternate win total of 6.5 to get better odds as well.
Official play: 2 Units over 6 total wins