DC Defenders vs. Tampa Bay Vipers XFL Betting Odds, Pick & Analysis: Will Cardale Jones Bounce Back?

DC Defenders vs. Tampa Bay Vipers XFL Betting Odds, Pick & Analysis: Will Cardale Jones Bounce Back? article feature image
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Credit: Ryan Kang/XFL Getty Images. Pictured: Cardale Jones #12

  • After two strong games to start the season, Defenders QB Cardale Jones struggled last week. Is he equipped to bounce back against the Vipers?
  • Our experts are eyeing the total between two teams that have had inconsistent starts to the season.
  • See the full betting breakdown below.

Defenders vs. Vipers Odds

  • Spread: Defenders -2.5
  • Total: 44
  • Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET on Sunday
  • TV: ESPN 2

Odds as of Saturday morning and via FanDuel. Get up to a $500 risk-free bet at FanDuel today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


Our staff previews Sunday’s game, complete with their projected spread and a pick.

Defenders vs. Vipers Injury Report

The Defenders are healthy on offense, but they could be without two key players on the other side of the ball. Starting left corner Elijah Campbell (abdomen) practiced on a limited basis on Friday and looks like a truly questionable game-time decision. Rotational defensive end Tavaris Barnes (thigh) missed last week and is questionable for this week.

Per usual, the Vipers are dealing with a multitude of issues. Week 1 starting quarterback Aaron Murray (foot) has missed the past two games. He practiced fully on Friday and is expected to return this week, but he will reportedly serve as the backup to backup-turned-starter Taylor Cornelius.

As for change-of-pace quarterback/halfback Quinton Flowers (undisclosed), he has left the team for “personal reasons” and is not expected to return in time for Week 4. Whether he returns to the team at all is doubtful.

Tight end Nick Truesdell (knee), who might be the team’s best all-around player, missed Week 3 and is yet to return to practice. He is technically doubtful for Week 4 but almost certain not to play.

In Week 3, the Vipers acquired former Canadian Football League standout wide receiver S.J. Green (knee) from the Seattle Dragons via trade, but Green is yet to practice. He didn’t play last week and seems likely to sit through his questionable designation. — Matthew Freedman


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Key Mismatch

Defenders WRs DeAndre Thompkins & Rashad Ross vs. Vipers CB Anthoula Kelly

Defenders quarterback Cardale Jones was incredibly bad against the LA Wildcats last week. He threw four interceptions, and many of his passes went into the ground or out of bounds.

But as bad as Jones was in that performance (he had an overall game grade of 26.9, per Pro Football Focus), there are some explanatory factors: It was the team’s first cross-country trip, and the Defenders had problems with their headsets.

This week, Jones and his talented wide receivers should bounce back against the Vipers, who have a subpar 60.0 PFF coverage grade.

In particular, they should be able to exploit cornerback Anthoula Kelly, who was exposed last week, as the Roughnecks targeted him nine times for 148 yards and two touchdowns.

Kelly plays both left and right cornerback, switching sides each quarter, so wide receivers DeAndre Thompkins and Rashad Ross should both get opportunities against him.

Ross is third in the league with 349 air yards, and Thompkins has played as the team’s No. 1 receiver since returning in Week 2. They are both more than capable of producing against Kelly. — Tony Marquis

Our Projected Odds

You’ll find our experts’ consensus spread as well as Sean Koerner’s total below. Find their projections for every Week 4 game here.

  • Our Experts’ Consensus Spread: -3.1
  • Koerner’s Projected Total: 43.7

Picks

Bill Monighetti: Vipers Total Under 20.5 

The Tampa Bay Vipers had their best offensive output of the season last week in a loss to the Roughnecks, but let’s not forget that this is the same team that failed to score an offensive touchdown through the first two weeks of the season.

Week 1 starting quarterback Aaron Murray (foot) is expected to return, but he will reportedly serve as a backup to quarterback Taylor Cornelius in his first game back. Quarterback/running back Quinton Flowers is away from the team for personal reasons, and I doubt that the Murray-for-Flowers swap is a net positive for Tampa Bay given Flowers’ rushing ability.

Additionally, the team’s top selection in the skill-player draft — tight end Nick Truesdell (knee) — remains absent from practice and is looking iffy for a second consecutive week.

Before allowing 39 points to the Wildcats last weekend, the Defenders defense held the Guardians scoreless in Week 2 and the Dragons to 19 points in Week 1. Sure, those are two of the worst offenses in the league, but are the Vipers much better? The Wildcats’ offensive explosion was aided by four interceptions from quarterback Cardale Jones, including two inside Defenders territory.

I’m expecting regression from both sides and would bet the under on Tampa Bay’s team total down to 19.5.

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