What Vegas makes of the Guardians’ offensive struggles

What Vegas makes of the Guardians’ offensive struggles

A week ago, VSiN discussed the woeful offensive start for the New York Guardians of the XFL. Then the unit went out and stunk up the joint at St. Louis, not rallying for garbage-time yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown until falling way behind.

The good news … that was an improvement!

The Guardians couldn’t even manage garbage-time yards the week before in a shutout loss to the D.C. Defenders. The Guardians rose from 137 yards on 2.9 yards-per-play in Week 2 to 307 yards on 5.6 yards-per-play last time out (and from a 27-0 loss to a 29-9 loss).

Handicappers and bettors will look for more improvement Saturday when the Guardians kick off the new week by hosting the Los Angeles Wildcats (2 p.m., ABC). That’s a “bad body-clock game” for the visitors, who were installed as seven-point road favorites despite that possible disadvantage.

Among the continuing offensive lowlights for the Guardians:

  • A ridiculous 4-of-31 conversion rate on third downs. The offense constantly leaves itself with long-distance tries, and has little idea yet how to move the chains. If you’re handicapping the XFL, be sure you know which offenses can move the chains (and which defenses get stops).
  • Only three touchdown drives all season, from 48, 57 and 40 yards out. Through three games, offensive points on drives of 60 yards or more: Houston 55, St. Louis 45, Dallas 37 (34 in two games with Landry Jones at QB), Los Angeles 32, Seattle 31, D.C. 22, Tampa Bay 9, New York 0. (Those numbers include successfully converted conversions after touchdowns.)

You can tell oddsmakers have soured on the Guardians after recent results. They are priced this week as the worst team in the XFL. VSiN’s Jeff Parles (“A Numbers Game” and “Market Watch”) and I have compiled estimated “market” power ratings for the league from this week’s settled point spreads:

Houston 85, D.C. 84, St. Louis 84, Los Angeles 82, Dallas 81, Tampa Bay 79, Seattle 76, New York 72.

As with our NFL estimates (assisted by Jonathan Von Tobel), we use a standard three points for home-field advantage. That could turn out to be too low in this league. The average result through 12 games is a win of 9.1 points for the host, with midpoints of 8 and 12. An extreme turnover differential of visitors 30, hosts 8 is expected to regress.

The Guardians’ 23-3 season-opening home win over Tampa Bay was keyed by a 3-0 turnover advantage.

Here’s the rest of this weekend’s card for XFL bettors: Seattle at St. Louis (5 p.m., Fox), Houston at Dallas (Sunday, 4 p.m., FS1) and D.C. at Tampa Bay (Sunday, 7 p.m., ESPN2).

VSiN will continue XFL coverage (with updated power ratings) on Guardians game days through the season.

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