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Week 1: Saturday Guide for odds & picks

Seattle Dragons RB Ja'Quan Gardner

The run game, including Ja'Quan Gardner, could determine the Seattle Dragons' fate in Week 1 against the DC Defenders.

The Action Network offers weekly tips on betting lines, point spreads, odds and picks.

Here's an excerpt from their articles previewing Week 1's Saturday XFL games, with the Seattle Dragons visiting the DC Defenders (2 p.m. ET, ABC) and the Los Angeles Wildcats playing the host Houston Roughnecks (5 p.m. ET, FOX).

(Odds courtesy of FanDuel, which may update in their SportsBook.)

Click here for Sunday's notes previewing the Tampa Bay Vipers at New York Guardians, and St. Louis BattleHawks at Dallas Renegades.

Seattle Dragons at DC Defenders Odds

  • Spread: Defenders -7.5
  • Total: 49

Key Matchup

Dragons Run Offense vs. Defenders Run Defense

If the Dragons are to win this game, they will need to have success running the ball. Because of the running clock, the run game is less important in the XFL than it is in the NFL, but the Dragons will still need to control the ball with long, extended drives in order to keep the superior and playmaker-stacked Defenders offense on the sideline as much as possible.

Running backs Ja’Quan Gardner, Kenneth Farrow and Trey Williams are probably the best skill-position players on the Dragons roster, while quarterback Brandon Silvers and the wide receivers are almost certainly below average. If the Dragons are to move the ball, they will need to rely on their backfield.

And with an effective run game, they might be able to take the pressure off of Silvers by slowing down the opposing pass rush and giving him better throwing lanes.

But if the Defenders run defense is able to shut down the Dragons’ ground attack, this game could turn into a blowout rather quickly.

Projected Dragons-Defenders Odds

You’ll find The Action Network experts’ consensus spread as well as Sean Koerner’s total below. Find their projections for every Week 1 game here.

  • Our Experts’ Consensus Spread: Defenders -6.8
  • Koerner’s Projected Total: 46.2

Read the full Dragons-Defenders breakdown.

LA Wildcats QB Jalan McClendon

Jalan McClendon may start at quarterback for the Los Angeles Wildcats in Week 1 versus the Houston Roughnecks.

Los Angeles Wildcats at Houston Roughnecks Odds

  • Spread: Roughnecks -6.5
  • Total: 49.5

Key Matchup

Wildcats Pass Offense vs. Roughnecks Pass Defense

Due to Johnson’s injury, Jalan McClendon, a dual-threat quarterback from Baylor, is reportedly getting the start even though he’s listed behind Chad Kanoff on the team’s official depth chart.

As soon as news broke of Johnson’s injury, sharp bettors hammered the line from Houston -4 to -5.5, and it has since moved to -6.5.

McClendon may be a better fit in offensive coordinator Norm Chow’s system than Kanoff, but he’s a significant downgrade from the talented Johnson, who the XFL blocked from signing with the Detroit Lions late last season. How McClendon performs against what should be a solid defense for the Roughnecks will determine how close this game stays.

Expert Picks

Ben Rolfe: Roughnecks -6.5

The Roughnecks are one of the two teams that have stood out in terms of roster construction and talent. They have the biggest potential difference-maker on defense in the league in lineman Kony Ealy, and now they look likely to be facing a backup quarterback in Week 1.

They have enough talent on their roster to win this one by at least a touchdown against the Wildcats.

Read the full Wildcats-Roughnecks breakdown.