It doesn’t get much better than this! Just when you thought football season was over…it begins again! That is just the way Coach Rick likes it. The XFL kicks off its 2020 season on Saturday and Los Angeles heads to Houston in the late game. One key factor will play a huge role in betting decisions on this game.
Game: Los Angeles Wildcats (0-0, 0-0 ATS) at Houston Roughnecks (0-0, 0-0 ATS)
When: 5:00 PM ET, Saturday, February 08, 2020
Where: TDECU Stadium, Houston, Texas
Current Line: HOU -6.5 Total: 51
TV Coverage: FOX
With the new league not having played yet, we have no historical data to assist in our decision making. That’s okay because there is one key factor that plays a role in all football games at every level. It’s the most important position in the sport – quarterback.
It's All About the QB
Think about it. The Kansas City Chiefs won a Super Bowl because their quarterback – Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes – is outstanding. He led a brilliant fourth-quarter comeback to give the Chiefs the Lombardi Trophy they’ve been waiting 50 years for.
XFL REVEALS NAMES & LOGOS FOR ALL TEAMS
Heading into the first week of XFL action, wins and losses are going to come down to quarterback play. Teams with the better signal callers are going to have the advantage.
The Wildcats have former NFL starter Josh Johnson. The problem with the 33-year-old is that he missed the entire week of practice nursing a thigh injury. Johnson will be a game-time decision.
That means Los Angeles could be playing its first XFL game with Chad Kanoff and Jalan McClendon at quarterback. If you don’t recognize those names, it’s okay. No one else does either.
That’s strike one for the Wildcats and really the only strike that matters.
On the other end, Houston will start P.J. Walker, a former starter at Temple.
Run and Shoot
The Roughnecks should have one of the more explosive passing attacks in the league. Their head coach is June Jones, who worked in the NFL as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons and served most recently as the head coach at SMU and Hawaii.
Jones is one of the game’s run-and-shoot gurus.
The offense, which dates back to the late 1970s and early 1980s, is a pass-happy style of offense, which fits the Roughnecks personnel. Walker is an undersized quarterback who threw for over 10,000 yards and 70 touchdowns at Temple.
Walker will throw to guys like Sammie Coates who had 21 receptions for 435 yards and two touchdowns with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016. Cam Philips and Kahlil Lewis give Walker two additional targets and running backs Andre Williams (721 yards and seven TDs for the New York Giants in 2014) and De’Angelo Henderson will keep defenses honest.
Another huge factor that favors Houston is the league’s decision to hold training camp for all teams in Houston. The Roughnecks haven’t had to travel at all since the beginning of camp. That’s a big advantage heading into Week 1.
With the advantage at quarterback, the home-field, and some unique rules in the mix; Coach Rick looks for Houston to get the best of the Wildcats and cover the spread in the XFL’s inaugural week.
Today’s XFL Free Pick Against the Spread: Houston -6.5
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.