Just six days after the NFL crowned the Kansas City Chiefs its 54th Super Bowl champion, professional football returned on Saturday with the debut of the resurrected XFL — a league founded by WWE CEO Vince McMahon that played one season in 2001 before folding. Now, 19 years later, McMahon has a new version of the league that advertises itself as not only fan-friendly but friendly for bettors as well.
The third game of four in Week 1 of the new XFL’s 10-week season kicks off at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on Sunday, when the New York Guardians host the team that experts say looks like the league’s elite, the Tampa Bay Vipers.
The Vipers are helmed by former Chicago Bears Head Coach Marc Trestman, who is likely looking for a ticket back to the NFL after compiling a mediocre 13-19 record with Chicago in 2013 and 2014, according to an Athlon Sports preview of the game. The Guardians see the return of Coach Kevin Gilbride to New York-area football after a six-year retirement.
As the New York Giants offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Gilbride helped nurture the recently retired Eli Manning into a possible Hall of Famer and collected two dramatic Super Bowl wins over the powerhouse New England Patriots in the 2007 and 2011 seasons.
The new edition of the XFL features a rather complex set of rule changes, designed to both make the game move faster and protect player safety. The league’s new kickoff rule is especially complicated, with the kicker required to place the ball in the air between the opponent’s 20-yard line and end zone, from his team’s 30-yard line — while the kicking team lines up on the returning team’s 35, and the receiving side lines up on the 30.
Neither team can move off its line until the kick returner catches the ball.
Despite the rules changes — including a 25-second play clock rather than the NFL’s 40 seconds — that McMahon said would allow each game to be completed within two hours and 45 minutes, the new XFL’s opening game Saturday, pitting the DC Defenders against the Seattle Dragons, ran more than three hours anyway, according to Pro Football Talk.
In the Week 1 finale, the Tampa Bay Vipers come in as 2 1/2-point favorites on the road against the New York Guardians, according to odds published by ESPN. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Rhode Island, Iowa, and Nevada have already authorized legal betting markets for XFL games, but according to ESPN.com, betting limits at most legal sportsbooks will be lower than for NFL games — and odds and spreads are expected to change quickly.
The Tampa Bay Vipers vs. New York Guardians XFL Week 1 clash kicks off at 2 p.m. EST, 11 a.m. PST at MetLife Stadium, and will be televised nationally by the Fox Network.