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Week 3: Sunday Betting Guide for odds & picks

St. Louis BattleHawks RB Matt Jones (24) dives into the end zone in Week 2 against the Houston Roughnecks.

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

Here, they preview Week 3's Sunday XFL games.

The St. Louis BattleHawks (1-1) bring pro football back to the Gateway City while hosting the New York Guardians (1-1) at The Dome at America's Center.

In the nightcap, the DC Defenders (2-0) hit the road for the first time at the Los Angeles Wildcats (0-2), at Dignity Health Sports Park.

Odds as of Saturday and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.

New York Guardians at St. Louis BattleHawks Odds

  • Spread: BattleHawks -10
  • Total: 40
  • Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET on Sunday
  • TV: ESPN

Our staff previews Sunday’s game, complete with their projected spread and a pick.

 

Guardians-BattleHawks Injury Report

For the Guardians, running back Darius Victor (head) was knocked out of last week’s game early and placed into the concussion protocol, but he practiced fully on Friday and is expected to play. Wide receiver Joe Horn Jr. (shoulder) did not participate in mid-week practice but was upgraded to limited on Thursday. He’s officially questionable.

There has still been no word on when we can expect starting wide receivers DeAngelo Yancey and Tanner Gentry to be activated from short-term injured reserve. To the best of our knowledge, they must be activated by Week 4 to qualify for short-term IR.

For the BattleHawks, it looks like we are repeating the process of practice time missed for running back Matt Jones (knee) this week. He missed virtually all of last week’s practice before getting in a full session at the end of the week and leading the league with 16 carries. He practiced fully on Friday and is expected to play despite his questionable designation.

Wide receiver L’Damian Washington (ankle) was a new name added to the injury report for Week 3. He was a limited mid-week participant but downgraded to “Did not practice” on Thursday. He got in a limited session on Friday, which puts him on track to play, but he is officially questionable. He has led all St. Louis wideouts with a 90.2% snap share this season (per Pro Football Focus).

Depth pieces in wide receiver Brandon Reilly (back) and running back Keith Ford (knee) are trending in the right direction as full participants this week after missing Week 2. — John Ferguson


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Key Matchup

BattleHawks’ offensive pace vs. Guardians’ offensive pace

One of the biggest mismatches to watch is the polarizing difference in play rates.

So far this season, the BattleHawks lead the league with 154 total offensive plays while the Guardians are dead last with just 91. St. Louis ran 83 plays alone in Week 2.

We came into this league expecting a pass-heavy approach from most teams, but St. Louis has leaned on the run with a league-leading 55.2% rush rate and 85 attempts. It has worked well for them, and we should see heavy rushing volume from them again this week as large home favorites against a Guardians team whose defense has surrendered a league-high 200 total rushing yards this season.

If the Guardians can’t keep up with the pace of play that the BattleHawks set, they’re going to be in serious trouble. — Ferguson

Our Projected Odds

You’ll find our experts’ consensus spread as well as Sean Koerner’s total below. Find their projections for every Week 3 game here.

  • Our Experts’ Consensus Spread: BattleHawks -7.2
  • Koerner’s Projected Total: 41.2

Pick

Sean Koerner: Under 40

The Guardians offense hit rock bottom in Week 2 -- not only did they fail to score, but they also failed to record a single red-zone drive, averaging just 2.9 yards per play and converting only one of 11 third downs.

Matt McGloin will start in Week 3 despite being benched last game for his weak performance, and the underlying data leads me to believe their offense will need more than a week to get right. It’s also likely that the offense could need a quarterback change to turn things around.

Meanwhile, the BattleHawks look like one of the better teams in the league as they upset Dallas in Week 1 and nearly defeated Houston in Week 2. Now they get to play their first game at home, where they are massive 10-point favorites.

We saw the BattleHawks run an eye-popping 83 plays last week, a lot of which had to do with being in comeback mode against Houston. However, if they can get a comfortable lead against New York, their offense is likely to become run-heavy with Matt Jones and Christine Michael. I would expect the pace to come to a crawl in that scenario.

As a result, this matchup could mirror the four games we’ve seen finish with fewer than 30 points. Despite having the lowest total on the board, I believe there is still some sneaky value on the under.

If this total dips below 40, I would pass on betting it pregame and instead consider taking it in-game — I could see the BattleHawks scoring on their first one or two drives, which could cause the live total to reach the 43-45 range. Not only would you be able to grab a better number in that scenario, but the game environment would shift significantly to favor the under.



Los Angeles Wildcats WR Nelson Spruce (11) leads the XFL with 192 receiving yards.

DC Defenders at Los Angeles Wildcats Odds

  • Spread: Defenders -8
  • Total: 44
  • Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET on Sunday
  • TV: FS1

Our staff previews Sunday’s game, complete with their projected spread and a pick.

Defenders-Wildcats Injury Report

For the Defenders, wide receiver Malachi Dupre (shoulder) practiced on a limited basis on Friday and is tentatively expected to play through his questionable tag. Rotational defensive end Tavaris Barnes (thigh) missed practice on Friday and looks to be on the doubtful side of questionable.

For the Wildcats, starting quarterback Josh Johnson (thigh) was limited in practice this week, but he’s expected to play through his questionable status after making his season debut last week. Backup quarterback Chad Kanoff (shoulder/head) will miss his second straight week.

The Wildcats will also be without starting edge defender Willie Mays (neck), starting cornerback Harlan Miller (thigh) and backup center Kahlil McKenzie (ankle).

Starting wide receiver Saeed Blacknall (thigh) and starting cornerback Jaylen Dunlap (thigh) are expected to return to action after missing Week 2. — Tony Marquis


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Key Matchup

Defenders QB Cardale Jones vs. Wildcats Pass Defense

It helps the Wildcats that quarterback Josh Johnson got on the field in Week 2, but they have allowed a league-high 62 points this year and are ranked last with their 54.6 defensive grade (per Pro Football Focus). They are likely to have their hands full with Defenders quarterback Cardale Jones.

Jones leads the XFL with 511 yards passing and is the only player with an overall offensive PFF grade over 90. Head coach Pep Hamilton has proven to be an inventive and aggressive play caller, and Jones has probably the league’s best trio of pass-catching options in wide receivers DeAndre Thompkins, Rashad Ross and Eli Rogers.

The Wildcats, meanwhile, will be without cornerback Harlan Miller (thigh), and although cornerback Jaylen Dunlap (thigh) will probably play, he will almost certainly be physically limited.

This could get ugly, and if the Wildcats aren’t able to slow down Jones, they have little chance of winning. — Marquis

Our Projected Odds

You’ll find our experts’ consensus spread as well as Sean Koerner’s total below. Find their projections for every Week 3 game here.

  • Our Experts’ Consensus Spread: Defenders -6.7
  • Koerner’s Projected Total: 43.7

Pick

John Ferguson: Wildcats +8.5

DC has been one of the hottest teams through two weeks, led by what has looked like one of the more dominant defenses in the league. But we should also consider the fact that the Defenders have faced only Seattle and New York, both of which are easily in the bottom-third of the league when it comes to offensive capabilities.

Josh Johnson just made his debut for L.A. last week, and while he definitely had some rust to shake off, he looked sharp otherwise. One could even go as far as to say that if fully healthy, Johnson is in the same tier as Cardale Jones when it comes to quarterback performance.

I anticipate this game being much closer than DC’s past two — Seattle finished within 12 points of DC in Week 1, and we should see a stronger offensive performance from the Wildcats, making them a solid play at +8.5.