By The Masked Prognosticator
(16 February 2001) -- It appears that after Week 3 is said and done, at least every team in the XFL MAY have one win under their belts.
NY-NJ signal caller Chuck Puleri and his squad have been less like Hitmen and more like The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, going 0-2. The unforgiving New York fans and media have completely violated the time honored code of "omerta", being anything but silent in calling for Puleri to "sleep with the fishes".
Their pathetic performance in Las Vegas aside, what New York fans forget is that if it were not for some sloppy turnovers and questionable calls, the game against the Bolts might have been a little closer.
Orlando could be a BIT overrated. They failed to cover and came close to getting beat by Chicago opening night. Last week, they survived a scare by the Demons, and won handily. But the Rage were outgained by 359-297 yards on the field. Rage QB Jeff Brohm went from being the most highly touted passer in the XFL to yet another NFL cast-off by week 2, completing just 10 passes for 164 yards and an interception.
The real factor in this game will be the weather. For that information, we turn to the NFL. If you tracked the last 11 years of play by the three Florida NFL teams, Miami, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville you will find some very interesting stats.
From December to January, Florida NFL teams that play in cold weather outdoor stadiums are a less than 33% 10-23-1 straight up (SU) and 11-24-1 against the spread (ats). But when they play as road favorites December out Florida teams are 3-10 ats.
Finally, Florida teams that play back to back home games in nice sunny Florida then are road favorites in cold weather stadiums starting in December are a pathetic 1-6 ats!!!!
The bottom line: We recognize that the XFL is not the NFL. But in tracking history, it's the closest thing. Florida teams simply cannot handle cold weather! And trust me, it will be frigid in Giants stadium Sunday night- a chilly forecasted low of 24 degrees! If over 30,000 New York fans left the game last week because it was too cold, how do you think 38 thin blooded Rage players are going to survive?
There is no doubt about it, Orlando is still an pretty organized team that could win this game if NY-NJ keeps making stupid mistakes.
This is NY-NJ's game to lose. Frankly, if the Hitmen don't win this game straight up, or at the VERY LEAST keep it within a field goal, we say Rusty Tillman and Chuck Puleri might find themselves "going for a ride", hit man style!
game is our PICK OF THE WEEK:
NEW YORK +5 1/2 over Orlando
Originally posted as 12-1 to win the Big Game at the End, the Enforcers were given the designation as the XFL's road kill even before they played a down. Yet they went on the road and gave two of the supposed best teams in the league a run for their money. Last week the Enforcers were especially manly, almost spoiling the L.A. Pro Football Welcome Back Party before losing in heartbreaking fashion in a classic OT nail biter!
Before the season started, we circled to bet against the Enforcers this week since they will the first ever XFL team to play 3 straight road games. Looking into NFL stats, we figured we would be able to crunch a cornucopia of stats telling us that NFL teams playing in their third road game are toast.
But what we found actually surprised us . . . .
NFL teams in their third straight road game off 2 consecutive straight up losses are 16-8 against the spread!
It seems that the betting public sees the two losses, and that a team is in it's third road game, and goes with the home team. This increases the line. But, interestingly enough, we also found that these road teams in this exact situation performed as 40-45% straight up winners of that third road game!
Our theory is that in professional sports, adversity and the road tend to bond trust and loyalty. Without the pressure of the home field lights, desperate teams in a bad spot feel they have nothing to lose. And the way Chicago has played, we think they are one of those teams.
We won't make it a play because the points aren't enough (and L.A. outgained Chicago big time last week), but if you are looking for a side in this game, take Chi-town and the points. We won't be shocked if they win the game straight up.
Even the most ardent of XFL haters deep down had to admit that the Xtreme's OT win over Chicago Saturday Night was a lot of fun, even IF it kept them from seeing Jennifer Lopez! The same cannot be said for the Outlaws efforts so far this year. The Las Vegas Ravens EEEER outlaws have held their opponents to a combined 3 points in two defensive snoozefests this season.
Las Vegas' XFL version of the Doomsday Defense certainly might even give some lower tier NFL teams a tough quarter here and there. That reason ALONE would make them an easy favorite to cover this cheesy 1 to 1 1/2 point line, except for one problem . . .Vegas is down to a third string quarterback. A third string quarterback in the XFL. And an offense that gained a Ravenesque 159 yards against the Maniax last week.
For that reason we find this game completely unhandicappable. Is that a word? Then how about THIS advice: TOO CLOSE TO CALL.
The Demons Cinderella story went straight to hell last week in Orlando. One week after upsetting the Xtreme with a last minute field goal they scared the Devil out of Orlando and outgained the Rage on the field. But 13 sinful penalties helped to turn S.F. back into fallen angels.
With a revamped wide receiving corps, San Francisco goes into Memphis to face off against a crazed Maniax team that is mad as hell (OK I'll lay off the Demon jokes).
The Ax seemed to go toe to toe last week with Las Vegas until a cheap shot by Maniax on QB Ryan Clement inspired the Outlaws rather than crush them. Between the Outlaws impressive D and way, waaay too many Memphis penalties by the third quarter the only thing more embarrassing than the Maniax was Brian Bosworth dancing with the XFL cheerleaders.
Memphis looked bad, bad, bad last week, but here's a hot tip for you: they out gained the Outlaws on the field by over 100 yards. Clearly the Ax need to get their act together, but if you need a pick, take the pissed off Maniax over the sloppy and poorly coached Demons as a side.