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Best XFL Bets: Will the D.C. Defenders Score a Win in Week 1? (February 19)

With the Super Bowl in the books, bettors must wait until next September for the NFL’s return. Fortunately, football gamblers looking for a fix don’t have to wait that long — the XFL will return to action this weekend and plans to run through April. Bettors looking for value should tail this XFL bet for Week 1: a play on Jordan Ta’amu and the D.C. Defenders.

Best XFL Bets for Week 1 | D.C. Defenders

Seattle Sea Dragons vs. D.C. Defenders (+1) | Feb. 19, 8 p.m. ET

The D.C. Defenders, led by quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, should have an edge this year in the XFL. Ta’amu is a veteran of two spring football leagues, the XFL in 2020 and the USFL in 2022, and played a total of 15 games. He completed 72% of his passes for 8 yards per attempt (Y/A) in 2020 but completed only 57% of his passes for 6.7 Y/A in 2022. However, he lacked either legitimate receivers or a sharp head coach in the latter season.

Ta’amu’s college resume speaks to his ability. He spent two years as a starter for Ole Miss, where he completed 64.5% of his passes for 9.5 Y/A and recorded an average passing efficiency grade of 156.8. His score from 2017 (164.5) isn’t far off from what Caleb Williams recorded in 2022 (168.5). Ta’amu also added 507 yards and 10 scores with his legs as well. He also ran a 4.77-second 40-yard dash, which ranks in the 69th percentile among quarterbacks.

Ta’amu has some intriguing weapons to work with. At running back, he’ll get Abram Smith. Smith, part of Baylor’s 2021 Big 12 title-winning team, worked with the New Orleans Saints last offseason and went first overall in the XFL Draft for skill-position players. At wide receiver, the Defenders have K.D. Cannon, a former member of the New York Jets who ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash, and Chad Hansen, a former NFL fourth-round pick.

The Defenders and Ta’amu will line up against the Jim Haslett and June Jones-coached Seattle Sea Dragons on Sunday night. Seattle will start Ben DiNucci under center. DiNucci hasn’t yet played in a spring football series, but he saw professional action for the Dallas Cowboys in 2020. He played in three games and completed 53.4% of his passes for 5 Y/A. His collegiate numbers are similarly unimpressive — DiNucci completed 54.5% of his passes for 6.6 Y/A at Pitt. His career passing efficiency score (113.6) is the worst among the XFL’s starters.

Haslett and Jones will likely employ a pass-heavy, run-and-shoot offense. Jones dominated the XFL in 2020 as the head coach of the Houston Roughnecks with a similar offense. However, Jones had P.J. Walker under center. Walker, now an NFL quarterback, recorded more impressive collegiate numbers than DiNucci in every metric. DiNucci may struggle to run Jones’ offense, especially in Week 1, and especially against a Gregg Williams-coached D.C. Defenders defense.

Best XFL Bet: D.C. Defenders Moneyline (+100) at Caesars

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