We’re entering the final week of February, which means March – and March Madness – are right around the corner. Before we really get into the throes of the NCAA Tournament, we’ll have a busy week of action in front of us this week.
The NFL Combine has gotten underway, we’re into XFL week 4 picks, the NHL trade deadline has just passed and the NBA season is gearing up for the home stretch.
Let’s take a closer look at this week’s XFL action and hone in on the three best bets of the week:
XFL Week 4 picks & lock of the week
The DC Defenders were the favorite to win the XFL Championship through two weeks but their season took a turn in Week 3.
DC Defenders at Tampa Bay Vipers
Date: Sunday, March 1st
- They opened Week 3 as a touchdown favorite at the Los Angeles Wildcats but they got smoked 39-9.
- While many people are overreacting here – including the oddsmakers – this is a Defenders team that’s still one of the best in the XFL.
- The Vipers are one of the worst.
When it comes to XFL week 4 picks… this is a no brainer.
With the Defenders, the story of Week 3 was turnovers. It’s hard to win when you turn the ball over five times. They still had a good day on the ground, compiling 200 rushing yards, but Cardale Jones threw four picks, which is what led to the disaster. He should have more success against the Vipers, who are 0-3.
The Vipers offense had struggled in the first two weeks of the season but got on track in Week 3. They still lost 34-27 but at least they were able to put significant points up on the board. I’m still not all that impressed as they averaged 4.8 yards-per-play, which was barely an improvement over the 4.1 they averaged in Week 2.
To me, this is a bit of a mismatch as the Defenders should be favored by a field goal. They had a bad game in Week 2; the Vipers are just a bad team overall in my eyes.
Pick: DC Defenders +1
New York Rangers at Philadelphia Flyers
Date: Friday, February 28th
The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers will battle on Friday in an important contest. Although just seven points separate the two in the standings, the Flyers are currently third in the Metropolitan Division while the Rangers are seventh.
Both teams are red-hot right now, though, as the Rangers enter the week having won seven of eight while the Flyers are 12-4-1 in their last 17 contests.
I like the Flyers in this spot mostly because they’re a tough team to beat at home. They’re a healthy 21-5-4 at home this season and goaltender Carter Hart has been excellent in front of the home audience.
- Taking a look at his splits, he’s 3-10-1 on the road with a 3.88 goals-against average and an ugly .855 save percentage.
- He’s been completely opposite at home, though, going 16-2-2 in his 20 starts while posting a healthy 1.64 GAA and a sparkling .942 save percentage.
The Rangers have played well of late but they are just 16-11-2 on the road. A lot of that damage has been done of late as they have won seven straight away games. That means they were just 9-13 on the road before that.
The Flyers took the first meeting between the teams with a 5-1 victory and I’m expecting them to come away with the win again on Friday.
Los Angeles Dodgers Regular Season Win Total
We’re looking at a massive regular-season win total for the Dodgers at 101.5. As a matter of fact, it’s just them and the New York Yankees that have a number that high; the next highest number is 92.5.
I do like the Dodgers over here, though, mostly for two reasons. For one, this is a team that’s won the division seven straight years.
- They again have a lot of consistency across the roster with a number of young players who should continue to improve.
- There should be little volatility to be expected here.
- On top of that, don’t forget that they added the 2018 American League MVP in Mookie Betts and David Price to their roster.
That’s going to give them a huge boost.
The second point here is that the division simply isn’t that good. FanGraphs projects that three of the teams in the NL West will be below .500 while the only team that will be above will be the San Diego Padres.
In my eyes, that’s still a question mark. The Dodgers should cruise to 102 wins or more.
Pick: Over 101.5
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Other Things To Watch This Week
UFC Fight Night: Benavidez vs. Figueiredo – Benavidez is ranked as the UFC’s No. 1 Flyweight and he’ll take on Deiveson Figueiredo for the vacant Flyweight belt on Saturday. Figueiredo is 17-1 in his career and is currently ranked No. 3 in the division.
No. 16 Penn State vs No. 18 Iowa – Both Penn State and Iowa are ranked in the Top 25 and are tied in the Big Ten standings. They’ll meet at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday as they vie for second place in the Big Ten. Maryland is two wins up on both, so they might not catch them. However, this is an important contest for March Madness seeding.
NFL Combine – While it’s not something you can bet a lot on, it’s worth keeping an eye on for future purposes. The NFL combine will screen a whole bunch of draft prospects and it will give us an early indication of what kind of impact these players can have on their 2020 NFL teams.
See you same time next week when we start off the week with our Best Bets Of The Week!