XFL Semifinals Picks and Analysis: Expect a Great Game From the Sea Dragons and Defenders

Juwan Green Seattle Sea Dragons Vegas Vipers
Juwan Green #4 of the Seattle Sea Dragons celebrates after the game against the Vegas Vipers. Maddy Grassy/XFL via Seattle Sea Dragons’ official Facebook page

XFL Pick: SeaDragons/Defenders Over 48.5 (-110) at BetMGM

After 10 weeks, the XFL playoffs are here with two games in the semifinal round this weekend.

The playoff teams from the South division, Arlington and Houston, will meet on Saturday, while the anticipated battle in the North between Seattle and DC will close things on Sunday. The winners then will meet in two weeks in the championship game.

We have our analysis and picks for each game with the best betting odds available.

Picks Summary

  • Roughnecks -6.5 (-110)
  • Sea Dragons – Defenders Over 48.5 (-110)

Arlington Renegades vs. Houston Roughnecks

Saturday, April 29, 2023 – 07:00 PM EDT at TDECU Stadium

The Roughnecks (7-3) are a 6.5-point home favorite over the Renegades (4-6) with a total of 41.5 points.

Maybe the XFL can reconsider its playoff format with the Renegades sneaking into the playoffs just because of the weaker South Division, while a really solid No. 3 team in the North – like St. Louis – sees its season end after AJ McCarron threw for 420 yards and 6 touchdowns last week.

Previous Games

Gripes aside, this is Wade Phillip and Houston’s game to lose at home. This is the third meeting this season between the teams.

The first was a Week 2 meeting, which was won 23-14 by Houston. The Renegades just had no passing game to speak of with 4.1 yards per pass, and the running game was shut down (19 carries for 43 yards).

Arlington averaged an embarrassing 2.4 yards per play.

Week 10 Saw Two Unmotivated Teams

These teams also met last week in a 25-9 win by Houston. Now it is worth pointing out that both teams knew going into last Sunday’s game that they would be meeting in this playoff game in Houston, so the motivation to show much on film was very low.

Still, Luis Perez, the quarterback the Renegades acquired via trade during the season, started and threw every pass for the team. He finished 22-of-36 for 205 yards and an interception. The running game was again shut down, held to 55 yards on 21 carries. Arlington was 3-of-12 on third down.

Houston gave its starting quarterback, Brandon Silvers, the day off. Backup Cole McDonald was more than adequate, completing 10-of-11 passes for 120 yards and a pick. Backup Kaleb Eleby also played, but the Roughnecks ran wild on Arlington with 196 yards, including 120 yards by Jeremy Cox, who scored a touchdown.

Houston led wire-to-wire and was never seriously threatened, which is a big red flag for Arlington given one team started backups and the other rolled with their main quarterback the entire game.

Quarterbacks’ Performance Has Declined

The truth is Perez has not been a big boost to Arlington’s struggling offense, which finished the season next to last in yards per pass (5.8) and last in yards per rush (3.3).

The other truth is Silvers has not been playing well for Houston late in the season, though with this defense and running game, he really does not have to. He just has to avoid crucial interceptions, something the Arlington defense led the XFL in with 13 picks.

The Houston defense led the XFL with 35 sacks and ranked second with 12 interceptions.

Look for Phillips to cook up another plan that stifles Arlington’s poor, one-dimensional offense, and the Roughnecks should win by over 6.5 points for the third time this season against the Renegades.

XFL Pick: Roughnecks -6.5 (-110) at BetMGM

Seattle Sea Dragons vs. DC Defenders

Sunday, April 30, 2023 – 03:00 PM EDT at Audi Field

You could argue this is the real championship game and the Game of the Year in the XFL. The DC Defenders (9-1) are a 3-point home favorite against the Seattle Sea Dragons (7-3) with a total of 48.5 points.

Incredibly, the 9-1 team lost to the 1-9 team in the XFL this year (by 1 point too). Otherwise, we would be talking about the perfect season for DC, the best team in the league. However, are there some flaws to be worried about here?

DC’s Shortcomings

The Defenders started the season with a great running game, but that has been held in check better down the stretch. Seattle does not run the ball as often but finished No.1 in yards per carry (4.6), edging out the Defenders (4.4).

Quarterback Ben DiNucci has even led the Sea Dragons in rushing in several games this year, and he finished No. 6 in rushing yards (305).

Beyond the running game, defense is the main concern. Despite continuing to win games, the Defenders have allowed 240 points, the third most in the XFL. Seattle allowed 170 points, the fewest in the league.

Since Week 6, the Defenders have allowed 26, 37, 33, 26, and 28 points. Fortunately, they scored 37, 36, 34, 28, and 29 points as they have the most efficient, best offense in the XFL behind quarterback Jordan Ta’amu.

Barely Making It

But winning the last trio of games by a combined 4 points is not impressive. The Defenders may have lost to San Antonio last week had the Brahmas not missed a 53-yard field goal in the final 40 seconds.

The Defenders beat the Sea Dragons 34-33 in Week 8, but that was another instance where a team failed in the final 40 seconds to ultimately decide the game. The Defenders stopped DiNucci on a quarterback run on the 2-point conversion.

With Seattle having a prolific yardage offense and the Defenders being the best scoring team that gets into all these shootouts, the most logical bet by far here is to take the over 48.5 points.

Seven of the last eight games for DC have gone over 48.5 points and the only one that did not, finished at 48 points.

Enjoy the shootout and enjoy what could be the real title game in the XFL this year.

XFL Pick: Over 48.5 (-110) at BetMGM

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