XFL opening weekend keeping bettors busy

With the NFL season complete, football bettors have turned their attention to the inaugural weekend of the new XFL.

Marquee names are contributing to the D.C. Defenders being favored by seven points at DraftKings on Thursday ahead of their opener against the Seattle Dragons.

The Defenders, led by the likes of quarterback Cardale Jones and wide receiver Eli Rogers, have 84 percent of the handle and 59 percent of the overall bets placed on the game as of Thursday.

Coached by Jim Zorn, the Dragons will start former Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers over B.J. Daniels. Seattle also has former Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who is expected to be a versatile playmaker for Zorn.

The Los Angeles Wildcats and journeyman NFL quarterback Josh Johnson are 5.5-point underdogs at the Houston Roughnecks. Led by offensive-minded coach June Jones and quarterback P.J. Walker, the Roughnecks are responsible for 83 percent of the handle and 52 percent of the overall bets.

The Tampa Bay Vipers (-2.5) are the only road favorites on the opening week slate despite losing projected No. 1 receiver Antonio Callaway to injured reserve. Coach Marc Trestman and Tampa native quarterback Aaron Murray travel to take on the New York Guardians. Longtime Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride now leads the Guardians, who will start former Oakland Raiders backup quarterback Matt McGloin.

Tampa Bay is receiving 56 percent of the handle, but 66 percent of the overall bets have been placed on the Guardians at DraftKings.

The final game will be played in Dallas, where the Renegades are 7.5-point favorites over the St. Louis BattleHawks. Bettors have placed 73 percent of the handle on Dallas, although the total bets have been split almost evenly — 51 percent on St. Louis as of Thursday.

Former Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta’amu will start for the BattleHawks, who also feature Christine Michael, Matt Jones and Keith Ford at running back. The Renegades are led by former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Landry Jones, who is coached by fellow former Oklahoma Sooner Bob Stoops. Former Auburn star Cameron Artis-Payne leads the backfield.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)

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