XFL Semifinals Odds, Picks, and Predictions: Sea Dragons Deliver in Semis

The Sea Dragons are catching points this weekend despite being analytics beasts, and our XFL picks find the offer too great to pass up in our semifinals best bets.

JD Yonke - Contributor at Covers.com
JD Yonke • Contributor
Apr 29, 2023 • 19:19 ET • 4 min read
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The third iteration of the XFL begins the playoffs this weekend with two division championships. 

Play begins with a Lone Star standoff in Houston on Saturday, with the South Division Championship between the hometown Roughnecks (7-3) and the Arlington Renegades (4-6). 

The North Division Championship occurs the next day between a Seattle Sea Dragons (7-3) team that clinched a playoff berth in the final minutes of the regular season and a D.C. Defenders (9-1) team that has been dominant. 

Which two teams will advance to the grand finale? Check out our XFL betting picks for the semifinals to find out.

XFL picks for Semifinals

Picks made on 4/27/2023 at 9:15 a.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.

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XFL Semifinals odds and predictions

Arlington Renegades vs Houston Roughnecks

Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

Arlington Renegades Houston Roughnecks
+6.5 (-110) Spread -6.5 (-110)
+205 Moneyline -245
Over 41.5 (-110) Total Under 41.5 (-110)

Odds courtesy of DraftKings as of April 26.

There’s a reason that this matchup looks familiar. These two teams met a week ago, albeit in Arlington, as Houston cruised to a 25-9 win despite Wade Phillips resting as many of his regulars as he could spare. The first time these two met back in Week 2, Houston won 23-14 at home. 

Arlington arrives at the playoffs despite featuring a losing record thanks primarily to the futility of the North Division. Outside of Houston, the North combined for a putrid 8-22 record and a 26.7% winning percentage. Compare that to the South, who combined to go 25-15 for a 62.5% winning percentage, and it’s fair to say Arlington is fortunate to still be here thanks to fortuitous circumstances. 

Oddsmakers have established Houston as a significant -6.5 favorite while setting the total at 41.5. 

This is a tough matchup for Arlington because it’s a game featuring two defensive-minded teams — but Houston has been better on that side of the ball. The Roughnecks grade out at 86.2 in Pro Football Focus’ defensive grade, a few ticks above the Renegades at 80.5. 

Protecting the quarterback has been an issue for the Bob Stoops’ Renegades, who rank seventh (out of eight) in PFF’s pass-blocking metric at 55.7. That’s a major concern against a disruptive Houston front that has by far the best pass rush in the league, grading out at 88.9 per PFF — 10 points higher than the next-closest team. Trent Harris leads the league with 12 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.

Arlington has struggled to generate an offensive attack all year, ranking dead last in points scored (146) — 23 fewer than any other club. It averaged just 11.5 points per game in two meetings with Houston.

Houston has played poorly enough over the end of the regular season (2-3 in its last five games) that I won’t lay the points and will instead target the Under. The Roughnecks have been dominant defensively this season and get a ripe matchup against a struggling Renegades offense. 

They face a Houston offense that peaked early in the season and has been regressing ever since.

Give me the Under. 

Pick: Under 41.5 (-110 at DraftKings)

Seattle Sea Dragons vs DC Defenders

Sunday, 3:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Seattle Sea Dragons DC Defenders
+3 (-110) Spread -3 (-110)
+145 Moneyline -170
Over 48.5 (-115) Total Under 48.5 (-105)

Odds courtesy of DraftKings as of April 26.

The North Division Championship will feature a fantastic matchup between two teams that combined for a 16-4 record during the regular season. 

D.C. has mostly controlled every game it’s played in, but oddly enough its only loss came in Week 7 against the worst team in the league — the Orlando Guardians (1-9). That’s right, D.C.’s only loss came in the same game where Orlando earned its only win. Welcome to the XFL, where anything is possible!

Defenders quarterback Jordan Ta’amu has been fantastic yet again in his second stint in the XFL, averaging a league-high 8.3 yards per attempt while leading an offense that has scored 298 points this season — 50 more than any other team. The ground attack — led by XFL leading rusher Abram Smith — has been dominant, as D.C.’s 1,408 rushing yards are 439 more than the next-closest team. 

Seattle snuck into the playoffs on a tie-breaker that was so confusing it seemed as though even ESPN’s announcing team was having trouble figuring out if the Sea Dragons had advanced. Don’t let that fool you into overlooking this team, however, as the Sea Dragons stand a real chance of pulling off the upset. 

These teams met twice during the regular season and D.C. won both meetings in dramatic fashion. The first occurred in Week 1 when the Defenders rallied back from an 18-8 deficit at home to stuff the Sea Dragons at the goal line in the final seconds to win 22-18. Then, the two met at Lumen Field in Week 8 and Seattle scored a touchdown with 32 seconds remaining to bring the score within a single point, only for D.C. to snuff the ensuing two-point conversion to come out on top by a score of 34-33.

There's a case to be made that D.C. has been the best team in the league from a record standpoint, while Seattle has been the best team in the league on a per-snap analytical basis. The Sea Dragons have PFF's highest overall team grade (81.4), four points higher than the Defenders (77.4).

The Sea Dragons don't do anything exceptionally well, but they stick out as one of the few well-rounded teams in the league. Where the Sea Dragons rank in the Top 4 on both sides of the ball, the Defenders are ironically held back by their defense, which ranks sixth with a defensive grade of 66.7 — the worst of any unit on the field for this game. 

The line opened with Seattle as +3.5 underdogs before quickly being bet down to +3. I believe that early money was in the right place, and I will be backing Seattle in a matchup between two very evenly-matched teams, despite what the record says. 

The first two meetings both came down to the final play, so we know the Sea Dragons can compete at this level, and Jim Haslett's side grades out as the better team overall on a per-snap basis. I'd definitely rather have my money on the side catching points in a spot like this.   

Pick: Seattle +3 (-110 at DraftKings)

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