Every dog has its day. After being the laughingstock of the league for the first half of the season, Orlando got its first win at the most unlikely time, in Week 7 against the DC Defenders. The 1-6 Guardians rallied back from a 22-12 deficit to shock the previously unbeaten Defenders, 37-36, in one of the most high-scoring and exciting games of the year. The two teams combined for 888 yards of offense and 10 total touchdowns, soaring over the pregame total of 45.5. It was the sixth time in seven games Orlando has cashed the over.
Orlando’s has been much more competitive since benching Paxton Lynch and turning the offense over to QB Quinten Dormady. The transition occurred mid-game in Week 5, an eventual 35-32 loss to the Vegas Vipers. It’s only fitting the man whom the Guardians falsely accused of sharing the playbook, and subsequently cut, ends up being the catalyst for the team’s turnaround. It’s been a downright bizarre path for both Dormady and the Guardians. A team that was left for dead at 0-6 (and futures odds as high as 300 to 1 at some shops), now finds itself very much alive in the playoff picture.
Can they realistically catch the (3-4) Arlington Renegades for the South’s second playoff spot? They have a chance to pull within one game as they host Arlington this Saturday. Orlando is currently the betting favorite (-1.5) at BetMGM for the first time this season. Here is why I like their chances to keep the momentum rolling and cover this number.
Arlington Renegades (+1.5) at Orlando Guardians (O/U 42.5)
We took full advantage of the market being too high on Arlington early on. That gravy train has ended, but I still think they are worth fading even at the adjusted rating. Back in Week 3, Arlington edged out Orlando, 10-9, after closing as 8-point favorites. Arlington won the game, but Orlando won the box score. The Guardians outgained the Renegades (+93 yards), won yards per play (4.5-3.4) and first downs (18-14). Much like every Orlando game up until last week, it was the miscues that killed them. Orlando lost the turnover battle by two, and committed seven more penalties than Arlington. That was the common theme for Orlando through the first six weeks — a sad comedy of errors, committing 27 more penalties than its opponents. That ended last week, and after doing what no other XFL team has done (defeating DC), nobody is laughing anymore. Orlando cleaned up the flags, and put the XFL on notice that it’s not rolling over.
Both teams will look much different this time around. Instead of Kyle Sloter and Paxton Lynch, we are getting Luis Perez versus Quinten Dormady. Interesting enough, Perez was the opposing quarterback for Vegas when Orlando benched Lynch and turned to Dormady a few weeks ago. Now a member of the Renegades, he should provide Arlington the steady, dependable arm they have lacked all year. You should see the best version of the Renegades offense, especially considering Orlando allows the second-most yards and a league-worst 5.7 yards per play.
It’s still not going to be enough to keep pace with Orlando. Since Dormady was inserted into the lineup three weeks ago, the Guardians offense has gained the second-most yards (1,155), trailing DC by a mere 27. They outgained Seattle and St. Louis by over 200 yards, and Houston by more than 300. It’s tough to argue they aren’t one of the top offenses in the league heading down the stretch.
Arlington’s defense, on the other hand, might be a little bit of a paper tiger despite allowing only 17.8 points per game. They have benefitted from a back to back with the worst offense in the league (San Antonio), sandwiched inside of games against St. Louis and Seattle where they allowed 24 points in each game. I’d expect the Guardians to score in the 24-28 range. Considering Arlington has only scored more than 15 points just once, in the first week of the season thanks to two defensive touchdowns, I’m very comfortable betting they get outscored by Orlando. The Guardians have covered three straight and four of the last five, while Arlington’s is a league-worst 1-6 ATS. The market adjustments are still short, making Arlington a small underdog. That gives us a great opportunity to bypass the spread and play Orlando at a reasonable moneyline price. The Bet: Orlando Guardians ML -120.