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During his long, illustrious, apparently villainous but ultimately uber-successful career running the WWEVince McMahon dropped a morsel of knowledge that rings true well outside the ring:

“I don’t give a damn what the fans think cause, quite frankly, I know what the fans want better than they do.”

Super Bowl LIV is complete. The Kansas City Chiefs reign as champions. The NFL season is over. It won’t be back for seven months.

Fortunately, not all is lost. In early 2018, McMahon opted to give another run at running a professional football league: the XFL. Jokes swirled around, barbs were thrown, shots were fired. But McMahon knew then what we’re coming to know now: he knows what we want better than we do.

And what we want is professional football – with skin in the game. With the XFL, we get both.

XFL makes its return

Nearly 20 years have passed since the quick rise and fall of the first XFL season.

Back then, in 2001, McMahon possessed the thinking of past billionaires who believed their startup leagues could dethrone the NFL (see: Donald Trump and the USFL).

Now, the XFL is not in direct competition with the superior league. Rather, it takes the torch from the NFL and carries it three months into the offseason. Rather than a competitor, the XFL becomes a companion.

To boot, McMahon’s league boasts television deals with major networks such as ABCESPNFox and Fox Sports 1, allowing the league to broadcast its Saturday and Sunday games each week.

On the downside, this iteration of the XFL will not reimagine the great names of the past: great names like Chuckwagon, Deathblow, Baby Boy and He Hate Me.

It’s just regular player names, some you might know: QB Landry Jones (Dallas), QB Cardale Jones (DC), WR Sammie Coates (Houston) and WR Keenan Reynolds (Seattle).

Rules differ from traditional football

There are some quirky rules that fans and sports betting enthusiasts alike will need to become familiar with.

For example, in the XFL, there are no point-after kicks. Rather, teams can score after touchdowns in the following ways:

  • 2-yard score: one point
  • 5-yard score: two points
  • 10-yard score: three points

Kickoff returns will abound, as XFL kickers will tee up from their own 25-yard line as opposed to NFL players kicking from the 35. Kicks landing in the end zone on the fly come out to the 35-yard line, while those that bounce in will come out to the 15. Also, any coffin-corner punts that go out of bounds deep in opposing territory? They get brought back to the 35-yard line.

With 25-second play clocks and game clocks resuming despite incomplete passes our play going out of bounds, the XFL estimates an average time of just 32 seconds between plays.

This all sets up for more entertainment, more scoring, faster-paced.

DraftKings, FanDuel partner with upstart league

In a recent announcement, DraftKings formed a partnership with the XFL to make the daily fantasy sports company the “Official Daily Fantasy Sports Partner” and an “Authorized Gaming Operator” of the league. Not to be outdone, FanDuel announced its deal with the league to also become an “Official Fantasy Sports Partner” of the XFL.

Per the release, and in states where legalized, DraftKings intends to offer customers opportunities “to place a variety of bets and draft daily fantasy lineups on the eight-team XFL.” As such, the likes of DraftKings Sportsbook will feature XFL lines while integrating league logos and player imagery into DraftKings platforms and marketing promotions.

In the release, Jeffrey Pollack, president and COO of the XFL, noted the significance of DFS and legal wagering as they relate to the sport.

“We want what our fans want, and millions of football fans have made fantasy and legal wagering an essential part of their football experience. DraftKings is a leader in this space and shares our commitment to giving fans more ways to connect to the game we all love. This partnership is another great way to broaden our reach and introduce our new league.”

For FanDuel, the partnership affords the group access to official XFL data along with league logos. As such, FanDuel will create DFS contests throughout the XFL season. Additionally, FanDuel and the XFL will collaborate on “custom content and special promotions” for DFS customers.

Outlook for XFL betting

The reinvigorated XFL kicks off Feb. 8, the first of a 10-week regular season. The top two teams in each division will advance to the playoffs, which will span two weeks and conclude with the league championship.

Speaking of the championship, here is DraftKings’ rundown of the title futures for each team:

Game DraftKings Sportsbook FanDuel Sportsbook Date, Time (ET)
Seattle Dragons at DC Defenders DC Dragons -7 DC Dragons -7.5 Sat., Feb. 8, 2 p.m., ABC
Los Angeles Wildcats at Houston Roughnecks Houston -5.5 Houston -5.5 Sat., Feb. 8, 5 p.m., Fox
Tampa Bay Vipers at New York Guardians Tampa Bay -2.5 Tampa Bay -2 Sun., Feb. 9, 2 p.m., Fox
St. Louis BattleHawks at Dallas Renegades Dallas – 7.5 Dallas -10 Sun., Feb. 9, 5 p.m., ESPN

The quest for the crown begins this weekend. Week 1 has finally arrived. Football season continues. The question remains: Who ya got?

Team DraftKings Sportsbook FanDuel Sportsbook
Dallas Renegades +400 +400
New York Guardians +400 +430
Tampa Bay Vipers +450 +400
DC Defenders +500 +500
Los Angeles Wildcats +650 +650
Houston Roughnecks +900 +850
St. Louis BattleHawks +1000 +1000
Seattle Dragons +1200 +1200

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