- XFL Pick: Over 46.5 (-110) at BetMGM
The 2023 XFL season comes down to one championship game between the Arlington Renegades and DC Defenders. It comes as no surprise to see the Defenders in this game, but the Renegades had a shocking upset of Houston in the first round of the playoffs to advance to Saturday’s title game.
Can the Defenders complete this magical season with an 11-1 final record, or will Arlington deliver another incredible upset to claim the title after a 4-6 regular season?
We have our analysis and favorite pick for the game, and you can find XFL betting markets at many of the top-rated sportsbooks.
Saturday, May 13, 2023 – 08:00 PM EDT at Alamodome
The Defenders are a 6.5-point favorite with a total of 46.5 points at the XFL odds board.
The XFL Championship Game will take place at a neutral site in San Antonio at the Alamodome, the home of the Brahmas.
The Defenders Should Win
The Defenders have been the best team in the XFL for essentially the whole season. The only thing preventing a perfect record was a 1-point loss to Orlando of all teams, a Guardians team that was winless in the other nine games.
But the Defenders started the season with the most dominant running game in the league before progressing to have the most efficient passing game and best scoring offense. This saved a defense that was letting up too many points and yards late in the season, but that defense would get pivotal stops on the final drives to continue winning games.
In the playoffs against Seattle, the defense held up well, holding a good Sea Dragons offense to 9 points through the third quarter before winning 37-21.
DC Dominated All-XFL Selections
The All-XFL teams were announced this week. The Defenders have the top quarterback (Jordan Ta’amu), running back (Abram Smith), one of the top wide receivers (Lucky Jackson), and one of the top offensive linemen (guard Liam Fornadel).
The defense also had a pair of All-XFL players in defensive lineman Davin Bellamy and defensive back Michael Joseph. Even punter Daniel Whelan was voted the All-XFL punter.
Ta’amu was also named the Offensive Player of the Year, and Reggie Barlow is the XFL Coach of the Year.
As for Arlington, defensive lineman Davonte Lambert was the only All-XFL player on the roster. But one could argue this team is better than the 4-6 record, because it was only late in the year that they switched to quarterback Luis Perez, who was acquired in a trade.
In the team’s playoff upset of Houston, Perez took advantage of clean pockets against a usually dominant Houston defense, and he carved up the Roughnecks for 289 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions. He was only sacked one time.
The Defenders have the accolades and top players, but the pressure is also on them to deliver, while most have written Arlington off before the playoffs even started.
Will It Be High Scoring?
With the total set to 46.5 points, this could be a high-scoring game for sure. Arlington has been one of the weakest-scoring teams in the league, but scoring 26 points in Houston in the playoffs was impressive.
With the Defenders, we know they score a lot almost every week. The Defenders have scored at least 28 points in nine straight games.
The Defenders have also allowed at least 21 points in seven straight games. In fact, their last nine games have all gone over 46.5 points.
Arlington has been held to 18 points or fewer in 8-of-11 games this year, which is troubling going into this one. However, let’s look back at the Week 9 matchup between these teams. It was the only meeting this year, it was with Perez at quarterback for the Renegades, and the Defenders won 28-26.
Perez was able to throw for 335 yards in that one, and the running game pitched in 113 yards too. So, if that version of the Renegades can show up for this one, we could be in store for another high-scoring game that hits the over.
Will It Be Close?
For as great as the Defenders have been at scoring and winning games, they are not a dominant team that wins a lot of blowouts. Six of their 10 wins this season have been by 1-to-8 points, including four wins by 1-to-4 points.
In the Week 9 matchup, the Defenders were up big with a 26-9 lead, and they could have turned it into a rout had Ta’amu not been intercepted in the red zone. That set up a short field for the Renegades, who scored a touchdown to make it 26-15. Another long drive saw DC’s other quarterback throw an interception, and the Renegades turned that into a touchdown drive too to make it 26-23.
Arlington converted the fourth-and-15 to retain possession, settled for a field goal, and we went to overtime tied at 26. That was an impressive 17-point comeback, but it was built on the strength of two interceptions by the defense.
In overtime, four of the five 2-point conversion attempts by the teams failed. However, DC converted one on a pass from Ta’amu, and the team held on for a 28-26 win.
If this was the XFL Championship Game, it would have gone down as a classic, so we can only hope it is something that good again at the end. But it was very close to being a blowout last time at 26-9.
Conclusion: Best Bet
Great regular-season teams blowing it in the playoffs is a long tradition in football, but the Defenders feel like a good bet this week. They have the better offense and a clutch enough defense to put the clamps on an offense from Arlington that is still not one of the best in the league, even after getting Perez.
But anything can happen in one game, and Houston found that out the hard way last time after maybe underestimating how well Arlington can defend. However, in choosing the best pick for this game, you have to look at the total when you have a team that has been hitting over 46.5 with unrivaled consistency in the Defenders.
Championship games can be lower scoring than most, but 2023 is already the year of a 38-35 Super Bowl, the most points by a Super Bowl loser in NFL history. Maybe the XFL can give us something great too, but the best bet in this game is the over 46.5 to hit with the Defenders doing their share to make that happen after such a great season.
XFL Pick: Over 46.5 (-110) at BetMGM