XFL Week 4 Power Rankings

We are now 3 weeks in, and man oh man, is football crazy. One week you think you know exactly how the season is going to turn out, and the very next week, something happens that throws everything out of whack. That is what Week 3 in the XFL was, and let’s not waste any time. Let’s get to it.

8. New York Guardians (1-2) Last Week (7)
The New York Guardians are an absolute dumpster fire. Matt McGloin is becoming more and more Jay Cutler-esque as the weeks go by. Marquise Williams certainly hasn’t been any better. Luis Perez might be the answer, but even then, not great. G.A. Magnus has been atrocious. Kevin Gilbride can’t seem to control his team. It’s an absolute mess. The only bright spot has still been their defense, which by the numbers, has been pretty good. But it won’t matter if their offense can’t stay on the field and score points. This season is quickly spiraling out of control, and I don’t see it turning around. The Guardians will probably guard the no. 8 spot til season’s end.

7. Tampa Bay Vipers (0-3) Last Week (8)
BREAKING NEWS! The Vipers can actually play competitive football! Man, they gave the Roughnecks all they could handle, and had a legitimate shot at winning that game in the closing minutes of the 4th quarter. Now, this week, Marc Trestman addressed the media and noted that quarterback Quinton Flowers, who was starting to excel a little bit in this offense, would be taking an extended leave of absence. That definitely hurts some of the momentum that they built this weekend. But, I think this team still has a slight chance to make a Playoff run. They definitely have the talent, and the fight is still there. It’s just going to come down to quarterback play and coaching. I’m not sure how much I trust Marc Trestman, but if this weekend is any indication, he might be able to rally the troops and make a push. They play DC at home this weekend, and we will get to them later, but that is a winnable game. So we shall see if they can continue to keep that momentum they had. For now though, they sit at no. 7.

6. Seattle Dragons (1-2) Last Week (6)
The Dragons are who we thought they were. Solid defense. Offense has its moments. Good coaching. But they just aren’t quite good enough to compete in the loaded West. Keenan Reynolds and Austin Proehl are very productive. Kenneth Farrow is dynamic. Their defense makes stops, and causes turnovers. The problem is, they can’t always capitalize on those turnovers, because Brandon Silvers just isn’t that dude. He’s a good quarterback. He makes some good throws. He makes some timely throws. But when the moment is calling him, he just can’t seem to deliver. They had a shot, late in the game against Dallas, to get back in it, and Silvers just could not come through. I don’t know if BJ Daniels is the answer, but I don’t think it would hurt to try. For now, Seattle sits at no. 6.

5. Los Angeles Wildcats (1-2) Last Week (5)
Wow! The Wildcats showed up Sunday night. They were unstoppable! They looked like the best team in the league. I want everybody to take caution a little bit. First, I called this. I said, once Josh Johnson gets acclimated to this offense, they will be right there in the hunt for the top of the West. Well, I told you so. Josh Johnson was incredible. Martez Carter was sensational. But it was the coming out party of Tre McBride that really put this team in the hunt. We already knew about Nelson Spruce, who is reportedly injured, but hopefully not anything too serious. But it was the emergence of a second deep threat that now makes this team scary. And let’s not forget about the most impressive part of LA that night, their defense. Which caused the Defenders to turn the ball over 4 times in the game. They really dominated in all phases. BUT, the reason I said be cautious, is because this game was somewhat, I think, of an anomaly. They had a lot of short fields, and the DC Defenders just looked completely out of sorts. I want to see a more consistent performance from these guys before I totally buy in. So until then, I will still sit them at no. 5. But I do think this team has the capability to potentially win the West this season, because they can be that good.

4. DC Defenders (2-1) Last Week (2)
Sunday night is one to forget about if you’re the DC Defenders. They looked AWFUL against the Wildcats this weekend. Cardale Jones was just bad, no other way to slice it. Pep Hamilton didn’t have any answers for Winston Moss’ defense. The running game continues to struggle. And their defense was exposed. Now, I do think this game was somewhat of an anomaly. I don’t believe Cardale Jones is going to be this bad every single week. I think Pep Hamilton is a great coach who will make adjustments. But, I do have to say, I think the Defenders clear weaknesses were really masked the first two weeks getting to play Seattle and New York at home. Look, the Defenders are still a Top 4 team I believe. But, they are not as elite as we thought they were. And I think there is a strong possibility, that if they make it to the Playoffs, which I still believe they will, it will be on the road against a St. Louis team that might be better than them. DC sits at no. 4 for now.

3. Dallas Renegades (2-1) Last Week (4)
Man does this team take a while to get going. But once they do, they dominate and demoralize you. And they use their running game to do it. Cameron Artis-Payne might be…..scratch that, IS the best running back in the XFL. Matt Jones is a close second, but what Artis-Payne is doing is phenomenal. He is wearing down defenses, and they just haven’t been able to slow him down. Landry Jones is getting more and more comfortable each week, and this offense has a nice balance to it. But we have to talk about the star that is emerging in Dallas in tight end, Donald Parham. This dude is massive, but he can run downfield with the best of them. This tight end was burning defensive backs down the field Saturday night, and he is a locomotive that is getting better each week. He is quickly becoming Landry Jones’ favorite target and for good reason. This team is just hitting its stride, and they will have a big test this week with Houston coming to their house. Landry Jones has got to cut down on the turnovers, but the Dallas Renegades are for real. They sit at no. 3.

2. St. Louis BattleHawks (2-1) Last Week (3)
I absolutely love this team. Their energy. Their heart. Their passion. It’s infectious! Jonathan Hayes has this team playing great football, and it all starts with breakout star Jordan Ta’amu. Nobody expected Ta’amu to be this good, but this dude is straight up ballin’. He’s doing it with his arm. He’s doing it with his legs. His football IQ has been excellent. He really is doing it all. Pair that with a very strong running game, in fact the best overall rushing team in the XFL, and you have a recipe for success. Matt Jones and Christine Michael are dominating on the ground, and Ta’amu forces defenses to stay on their toes. But it’s this defense that takes this team to the next level. They are, without a doubt, the BEST defense in the XFL. They make stops and force turnovers, which leads to their running game keeping the opposing defense on the field for longer than they would like to be. Could you imagine, a East Conference Championship game in the Dome…. I’m starting to think that is becoming more and more of a reality as the weeks go by. The BattleHawks are the second best team in the XFL.

1. Houston Roughnecks (3-0) Last Week (1)
But they still aren’t no. 1, because that still belongs to the only undefeated team left in the XFL, the Houston Roughnecks. PJ Walker. Cam Phillips. Those names should strike fear in every team they play this season. I’m to the point, that I feel the only chance you have at beating the Roughnecks, is you are going to have to outscore them. Because you are NOT stopping the Walker and Phillips connection, the most lethal duo in the XFL. James Butler, Nick Holley, Sam Mobley, Khalil Lewis, and Sammie Coates hasn’t even got going yet. This team is LOADED! They are without a doubt, the BEST OFFENSE IN THE LEAGUE. Hands down! And it all starts with June Jones. His play calling has been nothing short of extraordinary. This Roughnecks team makes it look so easy to get into the end zone. PJ Walker is the MVP three weeks in, and Cam Phillips should be second on that list. Now, their defense is a little concerning. But as long as they can do just enough, and be opportunistic in the turnover battle, this team has got to be the favorite for the XFL Championship. The Houston Roughnecks are the best team in the XFL.

XFL Week 3 Power Rankings

Well, that’s 2 weeks now officially in the history books. We saw all different kinds of games this weekend. We saw defensive battles, slow building dramas, back and forth thrillers, and total domination, in what was another exciting week of XFL Football. This week’s Power Rankings are the most confident I have felt thus far, but of course, with the nature of football, that can all change week to week. So let’s see where we stand heading into week 3.

8. Tampa Bay Vipers (0-2) Last Week (8)

XFL fans, allow me to introduce to you your “Homecoming” team of the XFL 2020, the Tampa Bay Vipers. They are such a mess. Marc Trestman can’t decide on a quarterback. Whoever he decides will be playing quarterback that day, absolutely stinks. The defense gives up too many big plays. I have lost all confidence in this team, and it’s a shame, because they are talented in their skill positions. But in the sport of football, the quarterback position is the most important. And when you don’t have good quarterback play, you will struggle mightily. The Vipers will be playing their first home game this Saturday, but unfortunately for them, it will be against the Houston Roughnecks, and it will probably be a long day in Tampa for the Vipers. They are still at no. 8, and I expect them to remain there. Houston, congratulations, it’s “Homecoming Week”.

7. New York Guardians (1-1) Last Week (4)

Matt McGloin is leading this team. And after Saturday afternoon, that’s all you need to know to know why they are ranked no. 7. If Tampa had a decent quarterback, they would be ranked 8th. Once again, it’s a real shame. Because just like with Tampa Bay, they are talented. They got some good receivers. They got some decent running backs. They have an elite defense. They have a great Head Coach. But their “leader” is Matt McGloin. And if Saturday is any indication, he is not the right guy to be leading a locker room. If you can’t take ownership for your own mistakes, and you just throw your teammates and coaches under the bus, you don’t DESERVE to lead a team. Yes, he has some talent, but working together, as a team, goes far more than talent ever will. Until McGloin can buy into the concept of “TEAM”, they will sit at no. 7, and possibly fall to no. 8.

6. Seattle Dragons (1-1) Last Week (7)

Seattle, you have impressed me. By no means am I picking you to win the Championship, but you guys will be competitive in every game, and that is “For the Love of Football”. Brandon Silvers is not an elite XFL quarterback, but he has had his moments, and his play makers have made plays when they needed to. But the strength of this team is the defense, which is no unfamiliar territory for Seattle. Their defense has impressed me the past few weeks against DC and Tampa Bay, and if they can keep that up, I think they have the potential to pull off some real upsets. Especially when they play at home, with that raucous crowd. The key for their offense is to get the running game going, and take that pressure off of Brandon Silvers. If he can just limit the turnovers and make the key throws, this team should be fine, and at least be in most of their games til the end. They are my no. 6 team.

5. Los Angeles Wildcats (0-2) Last Week (6)

Some people are probably going to be surprised that I have LA ranked 5, especially since they haven’t gotten a win yet. But honestly, in their 25-18 loss to Dallas, they looked pretty good. Especially in the 4th quarter once Josh Johnson started getting that chemistry with Nelson Spruce. You have to remember, Johnson hasn’t even been able to really practice with his team much, due to him signing late, then getting injured. I believe that this team has enough talent to start racking up some wins. And don’t be surprised if that starts this Sunday against DC at home. I believe people are looking at that 0-2 record and really underestimating what this Wildcats team is capable of. If Johnson and Spruce can build that connection, this can become a scary team in the West. I have not counted the Wildcats out yet, and I think they might surprise the league here the next few weeks. For now, they sit at no. 5.

4. Dallas Renegades (1-1) Last Week (5)

This team is good. Yes, it took them a while to get going, but once they did, I don’t think they’re looking back. This might be the most well balanced offense in the league. They can run it with Artis-Payne and Dunbar. They can sure throw it with Landry Jones. And I believe they have play makers at the wide receiver position that can make plays in the open field. All of this was on display Sunday afternoon, once Landry Jones settled in the offense. Much like Johnson, he has not had a lot of reps with his team, so that chemistry will only build and get better. Their defense is good, not great, but if they can keep their running game strong, long drives will keep their defense on the sideline. The Renegades are threat in the West, and Houston better be looking over its shoulder. Dallas sits at no. 4.

3. St. Louis Battlehawks (1-1) Last Week (3)

St. Louis showed Sunday night, they are for real. They can compete with the big dogs, and they have a legitimate shot at winning the East and taking home the XFL Championship. Jordan Ta’amu is the real deal, and man is he fun to watch. He can do it with his arm, he can do it with his legs, and he has a strong running game backing him up. Matt Jones is a beast, and Christine Michael finally came alive in this game. Keith Ford will be back, and their receivers are really underrated. Pierson-El is a stud, and Washington can ball as well. But man, the defense is LEGIT. I’m confident in saying, this is the best defense in the XFL. All around, they can stop the run, protect against the pass, and they can cause turnovers. I think this team has a fight that can carry them a long way, and their Head Coach brings an energy that can motivate this team to a title. It’s why they are my 3rd ranked team.

2. DC Defenders (2-0) Last Week (2)

Total domination is what this team did to the New York Guardians Saturday afternoon. Cardale Jones is just that good. Rashad Ross is just that good. Eli Rogers is just that good. And oh yeah, DeAndre Thompkins made his return, and yep, he is just that good. Add that with a running game that seemed to be finding life in the 4th quarter, and a defense that has a pick six in each game so far, and you have the best team in the East. The DC Defenders are great, and Pep Hamilton is the main reason why. His play calling has been outstanding, and his willingness to take risk has paid off tremendously. This team has an identity, and it sticks to that. Have Cardale Jones make plays on the move, give the ball to their play makers, and let their defense have its opportunities. Drop in their some trick plays, and you have a recipe for success. But, they are still no. 2.

1. Houston Roughnecks (2-0) Last Week (1)

Because the Houston Roughnecks are still the best team in the XFL. PJ Walker is hands down, right now, at this moment, not just the best quarterback in the league, he is the best player in the league. He has looked unstoppable through the first 2 weeks, and I don’t see him slowing down anytime soon. But he ain’t by himself. Cam Phillips, who was named the Star of the Week this week, is an absolute beast. He can route run, he can turn on the gas, and he can catch with the best of them. Khalil Lewis, Nick Holley, Sammie Coates, James Butler, who do you try and stop? Good luck to any defense that has to play this Houston offense this season. But what’s scary for the league, is this defense is coming alive week by week. They get to the quarterback, and I mean they GET TO THE QUARTERBACK. Not to mention, they capitalize on every opportunity they get with takeaways, and they do not break easily. This is the clear favorite right now to win the West, and my current favorite to win it all. The Houston Roughnecks are the XFL’s best team until somebody proves otherwise.

XFL Dallas Renegades Take Down LA Wildcats 25-18

Renegades QB Landry Jones runs with the ball. (Credit XFL.com)

It was the much anticipated debut of the XFL’s first signing Landry Jones as he and head coach Bob Stoops were together for the first time since 2012. After over 770 days removed from being on the football field, Landry Jones led the Dallas Renegades to their first win of the season as they defeated the LA Wildcats 25-18.

Key Observations

Landry Jones’ Debut Performance

Everyone was excited to see what Landry Jones would look like being the poster boy of the league back in August. There can be some arguments that his performance on the field was up and down. The offense for Dallas looked much better passing the ball as Jones was more willing to throw it deep and make some plays down the field. Unfortunately for Jones and the Renegades, that meant turnovers. He threw two interceptions in the game that both looked ugly.

Despite some inconsistencies, Jones still made some nice throws down the field as he was able to hit Joshua Crockett on a nice 39 yard pass down the field and hit Donald Parham on some nice routes past ten yards as well. His throws looked and felt better than Philip Nelson’s throws in week one. He was confident in the pocket even if he had a lot of pressure put on him all game long. He showed audiences that he had full control of the offense, but even Jones would admit that he wasn’t all that impressed with his performance.

“Let’s call a spade a spade. You know what I mean? Let’s not sugarcoat things. That’s the only way you’re going to play better,” Jones said. “We play in a public arena for all the world to watch so it’s not a secret I didn’t play very good today.”

Jones finished the game 28-40, 305 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. The 305 yards makes Jones the first quarterback in the XFL season to throw for over 300 yards in a game.

The most impressive part of Jones’ performance was more about how he handled the off the field interviews. Numerous times during the broadcast on ESPN, he was interviewed about his interceptions and missed opportunities. Instead of taking it the Matt McGloin route and talk down on his teammates and coaches’ game plan, Jones kept taking the blame. He continued to talk about how he needs to improve and no one else.

“It’s the same story over, and over again,” Jones said after he threw his second interception of the game. “I need to make throws.”

His composure and leadership showed XFL fans why he was the first player signed to the league and why he’s a starting quarterback. While fans hope his play gets better (which it should), his words spoke louder and impressed many. It should be a sign of good things to come for Dallas this season.

Josh Johnson’s Impressive XFL Debut

Landry Jones overshadowed the XFL debut of another former NFL quarterback in Josh Johnson. After being out for week one due to an injury, Johnson seemed to have recovered nicely from his injury as many would say he outperformed Jones in some aspects of the game. He seemed calm, cool and collected in the pocket as pressure didn’t seem to rattle him very much.

Johnson’s ability to hit receivers in stride was impressive to watch. While he’s known for being a mobile quarterback, viewers saw more of a pocket quarterback in the game. Credit needs to be given to the offensive line for giving Johnson plenty of time in the pocket. It’s pretty clear that Johnson and Nelson Spruce will be a dynamic QB-WR combo as they connected twice for scores. They should cause a lot of trouble for defenses all season long.

The lack of a consistent running game might have effected Johnson’s performance a bit. Elijah Hood broke off a couple of nice runs, but nothing that would make the Renegades’ defense scared of stopping the run. Johnson never really showed off his scrambling abilities as much either as that might be something the Wildcats and offensive coordinator Norm Chow can think about utilizing this season.

Turnovers Plagued Both Teams

Both teams through three quarters had trouble protecting the football. It became a big problem as Dallas was lucky it didn’t cost them the game. Typically, whoever wins the turnover battle comes out on top in the game. Not this time around. Landry Jones threw two critical interceptions while his tight end Sean Price fumbled that gave LA the ball back. The Wildcats had their chances in the red zone, but two of the times they were within the ten yard line they fumbled the ball and lost it to Dallas. Those were points taken off the board. The argument can be made that it cost them the game.

Cameron Artis-Payne Bounced Back Nicely

Week one’s performance against the St. Louis BattleHawks is one that Cameron Artis-Payne would like to forget about. He wasn’t able to produce a single rushing yard in the game and eventually was replaced mostly by Lance Dunbar. Artis-Payne came back stronger and had the best single game rushing performances of the young XFL season. He came one yard shy of hitting the 100 yard mark and ran in two touchdowns.

The running game for Dallas was stalled out for the first three quarters of the game. The fourth quarter was a whole different story as Dunbar and Artis-Payne had their way with the Wildcats defense. The Renegades seemed to have moved away from the passing game and relied on their running game to bring them home. It could be a strategy that the team uses more often throughout the year. The plan was to pass the ball 60 percent of the time in a game, but with the running game picking up steam, a whole new game plan might be in place heading into week three.

Top Performers

Dallas Renegades

Passing: Landry Jones – 28-40, 305 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions

Rushing: Cameron Artis-Payne – 14 carries, 99 yards, two touchdowns

Receiving: Donald Parham – five catches, 76 yards, one touchdown

LA Wildcats

Passing: Josh Johnson – 18-34, 196 yards, two touchdowns

Rushing: Elijah Hood – 10 carries, 31 yards

Receiving: Nelson Spruce – six catches, 89 yards, two touchdowns

Dallas Renegades vs. LA Wildcats Week 2 Preview

All eyes will be squared away at Landry Jones as he makes his first start of the season for the Dallas Renegades as they take on the LA Wildcats on the road. Philip Nelson filled in for Jones and while he was efficient and accurate, the play calling was conservative with short passes. Head coach Bob Stoops hopes to have a stronger showing from his running game and defense that fell short of high expectations against the St. Louis BattleHawks.

LA has had a lot happen to them in the past two weeks. They lost their starting quarterback Josh Johnson to injury for week one and most likely week two. Not to mention head coach Winston Moss fired his defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson. Defensive lineman Anthony Johnson became a free agent after he was let go. On top of that, Charles Kanoff hasn’t practiced with his shoulder/thigh injury that might keep him out of the game Sunday.

Keys to the Game

Dallas Renegades

With Landry Jones starting at quarterback, this should open up the offense and allow Hal Humme to be more aggressive. The team will need to pass the ball deeper and often. The running game must improve as Cameron Artis-Payne will have to do better than zero yards rushing. A healthier Jeff Badet and Jazz Ferguson should make the passing game more effective. The offensive line had some issues protecting Nelson as he was sacked four times and open more running lanes for the running backs in the middle of the line.

Defense has to take advantage of a banged up quarterback play. If Kanoff cannot go, Jalan McClendon will take over at quarterback. His athletic ability should make things interesting as the defense struggled against another athletic quarterback in Jordan Ta’amu. The issues lie with McClendon fumbling and getting intercepted within a few plays. His inexperience could be an advantage for the Renegades. The front seven allowed almost 200 yards rushing so stopping Elijah Hood will be priority one. Josh Hawkins will be tasked with covering Nelson Spruce.

LA Wildcats

There’s too many questions in terms of what’s going on with the quarterbacks. Kanoff and McClendon both struggled in the loss to Houston. The offense will be relying on Nelson Spruce to step up and continue making big plays at receiver. The running game shorten out in the second half for the Wildcats. Elijah Hood will need a big game as the passing game could be in need of it. Norm Chow will need to dive deep into the playbook to come up with some creative plays to open up the offense.

The defense got exposed in the secondary for poor pass coverage as PJ Walker threw for four touchdowns. They have another tough task of covering the fastest receiver unit in the league. The secondary will need to play back further and be ready for big plays. Now with Anthony Johnson out of the picture, the front seven took a hit and will need to step up.

X-Factors

Lance Dunbar

He played a key role in last week’s game game as he was the team’s leading rusher and tied for the lead in catches. While he wasn’t listed on the depth chart last week, his speed and athleticism makes him a weapon on offense. He should get more touches this weekend as he proved to be their most efficient runner on the roster.

Jordan Smallwood

Nelson Spruce will command most of the attention which could open the door for Jordan Smallwood to have a big game. He already made an impact on last week’s game as he caught a touchdown pass in the game against Houston. Bob Stoops should know a lot about him being a former Oklahoma receiver there. Smallwood has quick speed and is a threat on the outside.

Injury Report

Dallas Renegades

Winston Craig, DL – Thigh, Did not participate
Landry Jones, QB – Knee, Limited participation
Hau’oli Kikaha, LB – Wrist, Limited participation

LA Wildcats

Saeed Blacknall, WR – Thigh, Did not participate
Chad Kanoff, QB – Shoulder/Head, Did not participate
Dujuan Harris, WR – Ankle, Did not participate
Harlan Miller, CB – Ankle, Did not participate
Jerome Couplin, S – Ankle, Limited participation
Josh Johnson, QB – Thigh, Limited participation
Kahlil McKenzie, C – Ankle, Limited participation
Jack Tocho, CB – Hip, Limited participation
Trevon Sanders, DT – Hand, Limited participation
Tre Williams, LB – Hand, Limited participation

Summary

The game comes down to how well Landry Jones can move around with his knee and how soon he can get into a rhythm. It will be important for Winston Moss to bring the heat early to try to rattle the veteran quarterback. The Renegades are filled with so many weapons for Jones to throw it to that Mumme will be dialing up some big plays to hit early. If the Wildcats don’t have a solution figured out at quarterback by kickoff, it could smell for a long day for LA.

Prediction: Dallas 29, LA 15

XFL Week 2 Power Rankings

Now that we got our first look at all 8 teams in action, I feel a little more confident in my Power Rankings this week. Unfortunately, there are still a few teams I’m unsure about, especially because teams like LA and Dallas didn’t have their starting quarterbacks. But I can at least say, with a hundred percent certainty, that I feel a lot more confident in my picks this week than I did last week. A few I nailed, a few I whiffed, but these things change week to week, so let’s talk about it.

8. Tampa Bay Vipers (0-1)
Oh boy. If you read my Power Rankings last week, you’ll know that I had really high hopes for this team. A talented roster, a proven Head Coach, and a good vibe coming out of Training Camp, I thought had this team poised to make a run. Well, either they thought this was still the pre-season, or they really are this bad. I know New York’s secondary is the real deal, but Tampa could not do ANYTHING offensively. Aaron Murray was off, sometimes way off, on too many throws. When his throws were on target, they either dropped the ball or fumbled it. What could go wrong for the Vipers, did go wrong, and it was a complete nightmare. They are glad that there is a running play clock in the XFL, because this thing could have been much worse. Not prepared, not focused, not in sync. A lot of issues for the Vipers in Week 1, and I am really hoping that they can get it together for Week 2. For right now, I am willing to still hold out, because it was Week 1. But with a performance like that, you deserve the no. 8 spot.

7. Seattle Dragons (0-1)
I will start with this. Better than I thought…..just not by much. Brandon Silvers was decent enough. They ran the ball alright with Farrow and Gardner. But they were just simply outmatched. They hung in there with DC, but once DC started getting in a groove, it was evident who the better team was. I think Seattle got lucky with it being Week 1, and the Defenders were still working out some kinks. I think Seattle’s offense will be ok, but their defense just won’t have a chance against teams like DC and Houston. Unless Silvers and company, on the offensive side of the ball, start really getting creative, I think this team can be competitive, but ultimately come out on the losing end of a lot of games. I think Seattle fits perfectly in the no. 7 spot.

6. Los Angeles Wildcats (0-1)
Hmm…this is the most puzzling team to me. On the one hand, we still haven’t seen them at full strength with Josh Johnson under center. But now, reports are coming out that he may not be ready for Game 2, so who knows how long this injury is going to last. And in a 10 Week season, you can be out of the Playoff race fast. But even when Johnson gets back, i’m not sure about what kind of team we are going to get on the field. Nelson Spruce looked amazing, which did not come as a surprise, but I also think part of that was just the fact that Houston’s defense is suspect in between the numbers. As far as the rest of the team, they kind of disappointed me. Now, perhaps it was just the fact that they were playing the best offense in the league, so maybe their defense will bounce back, but their offense definitely left a lot to be desired. Yes, they were in it in the first half, but I think that had more to do with the fact that Houston didn’t really have a good feel on Chad Kanoff yet. Because in that second half, they completely shut him down. When Josh Johnson gets back, they will definitely be better. The question is, just how much better. For right now, I think the no. 6 spot is the perfect spot for them.

5. Dallas Renegades (0-1)
Now, this might be the biggest surprise of these rankings, but I saw something in their game against St. Louis that concerned me. Even with Landry Jones, who should be back next week, I think this might be the most overrated team in the league. Yes, Landry Jones is good, but i’m starting to think he might be the 4th best quarterback in the league. Now, come next week, I could be proven wrong, but we shall see. However, the reason I bring that up, is because based off of what we saw this weekend from Dallas, he is going to have to be a top 2 quarterback in this league if they want to get where many project them to be. Dallas, you should feel lucky that St. Louis didn’t figure it out until the 2nd half, because you got owned in this game. St. Louis controlled this game on the ground, and their defense completely shut down anything you wanted to do offensively. But we will get to St. Louis’ defense later, first we need to talk about Dallas’ game plan. Bob Stoops and Hal Mumme have the name recognition, and perhaps in their heyday they were ahead of the curb. But perhaps, they might be behind the curb here, because this “Air Raid” offense, at least the one we saw Saturday with Phil Nelson, ain’t gonna cut it against teams like DC and Houston. The “Air Raid” is an offense that builds over time in the game, but DC and Houston can have you down by 20 before you know it. Look, i’m still willing to give Dallas a chance, because we still have to see how Landry Jones will do in this offense. But, even the running game and receiving core underwhelmed in this game. Hopefully, it’s just those Week 1 tweaks that need to be worked out, but this game did not show me enough to think Landry Jones is the only solution to fix this. For now, they sit at no. 5.

4. New York Guardians (1-0)
I told you guys. I told you. New York’s secondary is the real deal. Jammar Summers, Bryce Jones, and company will make life hard for any quarterback. And that’s exactly what they did to Aaron Murray Sunday afternoon. 5 sacks, 3 takeaways is what lead the Guardians to victory. Their offense was run really well too on the backs of Victor and Cook, and McGloin threw the ball well to put them in scoring position often. But, as strong as their defense is, and it is definitely top 2, if not the best defense in the league, I think their offense is going to have to get a bit more creative with their passing game to move on up in these rankings. Matt McGloin is very capable, but due to his lack of mobility, he will need to get the ball out quick to his playmakers, which he has with his receiving core. McKay, Pearson, and company can add yards after the catch, which will only help this New York offense as they progress throughout the season. For now, I have them at no. 4.

3. St. Louis Battlehawks (1-0)
Now, I said Dallas being ranked no. 5 might be the biggest surprise on this list. But, perhaps an even bigger surprise is the fact that the team I had as no. 7 last week, is now my no. 3 team. The St. Louis Battlehawks are better, in fact, a lot better, than I thought, and I couldn’t be happier. First off, yes, I understand, they only beat a Dallas team, which was missing Landry Jones, by six points (15-9). I get it. Sal, you’re over reacting! Well, allow me to explain. In the 2nd half of that game, towards the end of the 3rd and in the 4th, Jonathan Hayes and Chuck Long figured out what kind of team they are. And let me tell you rest of XFL, you better be ready. Yes, they are going to lose to Houston next week, but that’s nothing to hang your head about. Chuck Long is going to put Jordan Ta’amu on the verge of success, and possibly in contender-ship for the MVP award at the end of the season. XFL fans, I give you the Baltimore Ravens of the XFL. Yes, if you watched that second half, Ta’amu, Jones, Michael, and Ford ran all over Dallas’ defense, and they are fixing to run all over the league. Now that they are letting Jordan Ta’amu be who he is, which is not a passer, but another threat in the running game, not only will that open up the passing game, but defenders are going to have to decide whether to bite on the run or not. Matt Jones and Keith Ford, plus you can’t forget about Christine Michael, are going to be effective in the running game. But now with Jordan Ta’amu playing to his strengths, that running game might be near unstoppable. And if Ta’amu can make just enough throws, this team might win the East. But that’s not all. Their defense might be the best in the league. It is going to be hard to find openings anywhere against this defense, who are big in size and stature, but can also ball hawk like New York. Now, I don’t think they will have as many takeaways as New York, but they might prevent less points on the board. This St. Louis team is for real, and while I do expect them to lose next week, they might not lose very often after that. They are my no. 3 team.

2. DC Defenders (1-0)
Cardale Jones was awesome Saturday afternoon. He would never go down. Even when you thought they had him, he refused to give in. He showed off his spectacular arm strength and mobility, but really he showed the absolute force that he is at the quarterback position. Good luck sacking Cardale, because it ain’t gonna be easy to get him down on the ground. He spread the ball across numerous receivers, and made the correct reads when he had to. Rashad Ross was who we thought he was going to be, and Eli Rogers made you sure you took notice. But who really opened the field up for DC was their Tight End, Khari Lee, who was terrific Saturday. Don’t forget, DeAndre Thompkins will be joining them soon, who was sidelined with an injury, and at that point, you can’t double team anyone. Their running game didn’t show much Saturday, but I still believe they will be fine. Their defense is what surprised me the most. They aren’t great, but I do believe that they are good enough to win the Championship. This isn’t Old School Football. Defense doesn’t win championships, offense wins championships. If you have an elite offense, you will be there. But, you still need a good defense to get the job done. This team is excellent in all phases, and I wouldn’t argue if you had them no. 1. But there is another team that I believe is currently better than them, so for now they are my no. 2 team.

1. Houston Roughnecks (1-0)
Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to “The Firework Show!”. The highest scoring offense in the league, and the best team in the XFL! The Houston Roughnecks are the real deal, and it took me by surprise just how good this offense is. They scored 37 points, scoring 5 offensive touchdowns, 4 of which came from the electric arm of PJ Walker. Walker was absolutely sensational in his debut, and while it was only one game, if he continues at this rate, he will be a runaway MVP. But as great as PJ Walker was, it wasn’t just him out there making plays. Cam Phillips, Khalil Lewis, James Butler, Nick Holley, and Sammie Coates all made impactful plays on the field. De’Angelo Henderson went out of the game with a injury early in the 1st quarter, but when he comes back, it will be near impossible to stop the plethora of weapons this Houston offense has. But what surprised me the most was the defense. Now, I do want to proceed with caution, because they were playing against a Wildcats team lead by Chad Kanoff instead of Josh Johnson, but we can only go by the one game we have. And the one game we have, this defense was quick and decisive for the most part. They were getting to Chad Kanoff frequently and in the second half, they completely shut him down. Their weakness though, is in between the numbers. Nelson Spruce was having a field day in the middle of the defense, so that is something that we will have to monitor as the season progresses. But for now, I don’t see any team, besides maybe DC, that can stop the Houston Roughnecks, the best team in the XFL.

Houston, We Have Lift Off!

The Houston Roughnecks beat the Tamp[a Bay Vipers 37-17
The Houston Roughnecks beat the Tampa Bay Vipers 37-17 (Photo: XFL.com)
Game 1 is officially in the books. The Houston Roughnecks defeated the Los Angeles Wildcats Saturday night 37-17 in a game that was really a game of two halves. The first half was a back and forth affair that was a game of momentum. The second half was a total domination by the Roughnecks, that really showed the separation between these two teams. Now, do keep in mind that LA was missing their starting quarterback, Josh Johnson, due to a lingering injury he has been facing since Training Camp. So we will have to wait until Week 8, March 29, at Los Angeles, to see these two teams square off at full strength. But I’m not sure how much of a difference it’s going to make, because by then, Houston’s offense will really be clicking, and we could see that game get out of hand quickly. But until then, we only have this game to go on. So let’s get into it.

Roughnecks got the ball to start off, and it didn’t take long for them to put their stamp on this league. Within just three plays, PJ Walker hit Cam Phillips with a 50 yard bomb for a touchdown, and the crowd erupted. That’s how you get a crowd fired up! It’s funny, because on the broadcast, Joel Klatt talked about taking a shot, and take their shot they did. They would go on to miss the conversion, but they were on the board early 6-0. But the Wildcats were not intimidated. They marched right down the field and added a touchdown of their own, after Chad Kanoff ran it in to make it 6-6. But unlike the Roughnecks, they converted on their 2 point conversion, so they took the lead 8-6. Later on in the 1st quarter, the Wildcats muffed the punt, which gave the Roughnecks the ball on LA’s side of the field. But it was a wasted possession, as Sergio Castillo missed the field goal try wide left. That would bring an end to what was a back and forth opening quarter between two of the league’s best teams.

The 2nd quarter got under way, and the Wildcats continued moving the ball successfully against this shaky Houston secondary. Nelson Spruce was all over the field in this game. No matter what Houston did, they didn’t have an answer for him. He was killing them in between the numbers, and it ultimately lead to a touchdown pass from Kanoff to Jordan Smallwood on the left side of the endzone. They failed to convert after the touchdown, but extended their lead to 14-6. But you knew the Roughnecks were going to come back fighting hard, and they did just that. PJ Walker led them right down the field, and they ended the drive with a touchdown on a screen pass to James Butler, who ran down the right sideline into the endzone. The Roughnecks would fail to convert for the second time, but they would close the gap 14-12. Los Angeles kicker Nick Novak would add a 35 yard field goal, to make it 17-12, but that’s where anything positive for the Wildcats on offense would come to an end. PJ Walker and the Roughnecks took over this game. On Houston’s final possession of the half, Walker hurled an absolute bomb to Sam Mobley, that was knocked away by Harlan Miller, which would have been a touchdown. But I guess PJ Walker and June Jones thought, why not try it again. Walker dropped a 39-yard bomb to Sam Mobley for a touchdown, and after yet another failed conversion, (0-3 up to this point, we’ll get to this in our analysis), they would go up 18-17 with a 1:03 left in the half. Now, the Wildcats could have possibly taken the lead heading into the locker room, but due to mismanagement with the clock and timeouts by Winston Moss they were not able to get a field goal off in time as the 1st half came to a close.

Now we get to the 3rd quarter. Remember when the Wildcats led the Roughnecks 17-12 in the 2nd quarter? That would be the last time the Wildcats have not only have the lead, but would even score a single point. The Roughnecks would end up scoring 25 unanswered points on their way to a 37-17 victory over the Wildcats. PJ Walker threw his 4th touchdown pass of the night to Kahlil Lewis, and Walker decided to run it in himself for the 2 point conversion, their first successful attempt of the night, to make it 26-17. Sergio Castillo then added a 44 yard field goal to make it 29-17, and that would be the end of the 3rd quarter.

The 4th quarter would see the Wildcats Jalan McClendon get some time at quarterback, and it would not go well for him. Deatrick Nichols would intercept his pass, and just six plays later, the Roughnecks would pound it into the endzone again, this time with Butler running it in on the ground. They would then convert on their 2nd consecutive 2 point conversion, to make it 37-17, as they opened a 20 point lead, and would hold that until the end of the game.

Houston absolutely dominated the second half of this game, and Walker was sensational. He finished with 23 of 39 passing for 272 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. His pick came late in the game during garbage time, and it was in the redzone, but all in all, PJ Walker made a case for himself, that he should be considered as an early MVP favorite. The Roughnecks proved their passing offense is exactly as advertised. In my opinion, it’s the best in the league, and with PJ Walker playing at an elite level, probably better than people even imagined. Now, one concern I have, are the point after touchdown conversions. They did convert on their last two, which gives me hope that they can get better, but they will need to. Especially when they get in these games that are going to be close. Now De’Angelo Henderson did go out early in the first quarter with a shoulder injury, so I do believe he will make life easier in that department when he gets back. But if they can improve in that area, their offense will be near impossible to stop. Now as far as their defense is concerned, I think we still have to wait and see when they play a top tier quarterback. They played fine in the second half, but they showed vulnerability in that first half. Especially with slot receivers. As I stated earlier, Nelson Spruce killed them in between the numbers, and that might be an issue as the season progresses. But all in all, last night Houston proved what most people already believe, that they are one of the XFL’s elite teams, and they are a force to be reckon with.

Are you ready for some football?

Audi Field in Washington, DC is ready for some football!
Audi Field in Washington, DC is ready for some football! Are you? (Photo: XFL.com)

Hank Williams Jr. developed a  song for Monday Night Football which had the classic lyric line “are you ready for some football?” and this question equally applies to the upcoming season which finally starts tomorrow.  After nearly two years of waiting and anticipation, team drafts, coaching staff assignments and training camps, eight XFL teams are finally ready to prove that this league is not just a novelty item but a legitimate football league.

The Seattle Dragons will kick off the new XFL2020 season against the DC Defenders tomorrow afternoon at 2pm Eastern on ABC and Day 1 will finish off with the Houston Roughnecks taking on the Los Angeles Wildcats on Fox at 5pm Eastern.  There has been a lot of excitement and anticipation in the air, and on the air as well with Fox and ESPN both running TV commercials promoting this weekend’s XFL games.  Fans have been chiming in on social media about how this new league is going to be a cure for the Super Bowl “Letdown Syndrome” which forces people to live in a football-deprived environment until next summer’s NFL training camps open.

What should fans expect of this new XFL?  Football fans are scrupulous in their desire to see quality games both on television and live at stadiums and the long term health of the XFL depends on the following factors:

Quality Football: Fans are paying good money to see live games or watching them using networks such as Fox, ABC and ESPN. The failure of the Alliance of American Football (AAF) last year was partly due to the fact that quality football was in question in a number of games, not to mention the rosters were filled with many players whom fans had either vaguely heard of or were relatively unknown players.  Each XFL roster is filled with former NFL and CFL players along with many standout college players, and the quality of play should be dramatically different than the product the AAF produced this time last year.

Interesting Changes to the Game: The XFL must immediately let fans know that it is not a feeder or minor league for the NFL but a league designed to promote a different if not better brand of football than the NFL has been producing lately.  Fans, players and coaches alike have become largely disenchanted with a myriad of officiating changes that have essentially altered the nature of the game of football in the United States.  The XFL is trying to bring some excitement back to the game with rule changes on kickoffs and returns and the elimination of the extra point kick in favor of a 2, 5 or 10 yard conversion try worth 1, 2 or 3 points.  What many fans may not realize is that if a defense can cause a turnover during the conversion try, and return the ball to the opposing end zone they will be awarded whatever points the offense was trying to convert after the touchdown. This is not only a unique rule, but a revolutionary rule as well, and game scoring strategies are going to be affected in every game this season.

Stay Around for Awhile: Every football league that has even remotely attempted to challenge the juggernaut known as the NFL has disappeared in the last 50 years from the WFL to the USFL.  CFL America failed back in the 90’s, and most recently the Arena Football League and the AAF have all gone to the sports graveyard where you can only find remnants of these leagues on websites and eBay.  The XFL tried to bring a new brand of football to America back in 2001 and failed after one single season.  Relevance is the keyword for the XFL to survive past 2020.  Show football fans that spring football the XFL way is vibrant, relevant, competitive and unique in its brand, and many people will be genuinely excited about  next week’s games.

Innovative concepts such as a league-wide practice squad known as Team Nine show that the XFL is thinking ahead and trying to revolutionize players’ careers by developing their abilities better and keeping them healthier and in greater playing shape.  However, if the XFL officials fail to capitalize on the huge growth potential for America’s true favorite sport (compare the Nielsen ratings and the advertisement costs of the Super Bowl to a World Series, NBA Championship or the Stanley Cup Finals and you will see that America lives for football) then we may have to wait another nineteen years for XFL 2039 to try again to win over the hearts and wallets of American football fans.

XFL Week 1 Power Rankings

XFL Power Rankings

Well, here it is. Week 1 of the inaugural XFL season is here. Starting on February 8, at Audi Field, the brand new league kicks off to a lot of anticipation and fanfare. Brand new players, brand new coaches, brand new teams, and brand new fans are ready to take off and experience an exciting time in American Professional Football! Let’s be honest, we haven’t seen a single snap from any of these teams, so we don’t really know what we are in for when it comes to any eight of these teams. So I’m going into these power rankings with as much knowledge about these teams as you. After week 1 is officially in the books, we will have a little better feel about where we are, but until then, let’s just have fun with these week 1 power rankings.

WEEK 1 POWER RANKINGS

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8. Seattle Dragons

Okay Seattle fans. Before you get your pitch forks and start yelling from the rooftops, let me just say this. I am totally ready to accept and admit the fact that I’m wrong about the Seattle Dragons. I hope I am. I like Jim Zorn as a coach. Brandon Silvers is a good quarterback. Kenneth Farrow is a good running back. They have some decent pieces. But quite honestly, there is just not enough for me at this time. I think Brandon Silvers will have some decent stats, but I believe that’s because they will be playing from behind… A LOT. Their receiving core leaves a lot to be desired with Kasen Williams and Austin Proehl. Evan Rodriguez, their starting TE, is decent, but their offense is going to struggle, and their defense is nothing to write home about. It doesn’t help that they play in the Western Conference, which I believe is the best conference, and they will have to deal with Dallas, Houston, and LA all season long. Look, it’s a new league, there are only eight teams, so somebody had to be no. eight, and I think the Seattle Dragons are that eighth team at this time.

7. St. Louis Battlehawks

Pro football is back in St. Louis baybay! I’m so excited to see that first home game in the Dome. The crowd will be electric. The stadium will be rocking. And the players will be motivated. Mainly because they are going to be playing a must win game in that 3rd week against the New York Guardians after going 0-2 against Dallas and Houston. Talk about a brutal start to the season. Well, I guess when there’s only eight teams, you kind of have no choice. But man, this St. Louis Battlehawks team is a team that I can honestly see in the Eastern Conference Championship, or I can see being right here, exactly where I have them, as the 7th best team in the league. Jordan Ta’amu is going to be fascinating to watch. Mainly because how good is he going to be? He has the athleticism, but I’m not quite sold on the rest of him yet. He did win the starting job, so there is that, but I think that was more due to the lack of depth in the St. Louis QB room. Now I do respect Christine Michael, and Matt Jones is no slouch, but I believe they will have to be relied on so much that the D-lines will hone in on them, forcing Ta’amu to beat them with his arm. Their defense is big. Big bodies, good size, strong, athletic. And I do think that their defense might actually be able to carry them to a few surprise wins. But all in all, I think they will go as far as Jordan Ta’amu takes them. Just like with Seattle, I am totally prepared to be proven wrong, and I hope that I am., because St. Louis deserves a good football team. But for right now, I have them as no. 7.

(DARK HORSES)

6. New York Guardians

This team. I can’t quite get my finger on them. Are they pretenders? Are they contenders? I guess time will tell. But for right now, I have them as a dark horse to win the East. Matt McGloin, we all know what he brings, but it’s the other pieces that intrigue me the most. First off, Mekale McKay. If you’re a fantasy player, snatch him up, because he is going to be raking in the numbers. Matt McGloin is going to find life a lot easier being able to pass to McKay, who can really do it all at receiver. Then you got Tim Cook, who will be looking out for him, especially on those after TD conversions. Strong back, who will keep the chains moving and especially at home in that cold weather. But let’s be real. What really makes New York dark horse contenders? The secondary. Jamar Summers, Wes Sutton, Demetrious Cox, and company are going to lead the league in takeaways, I’m calling it now. These guys are going to be a “no fly zone”, and if the offense can run out the clock and put points on the board, this is a scary team. It’s why the New York Guardians are my no. 6 team.

5. Tampa Bay Vipers

Out of all the teams on this list, this is the team that terrifies me the most. Look, whenever I play Dallas, or Houston, or DC, or LA, I know what I’m getting. I’m playing one of the XFL’s elite teams, so I’m going into that game expecting a hard fought match. But when I play the Tampa Bay Vipers, I may be getting a mediocre team, or I may be playing the favorite to win it all. I’m serious. This team scares me…A LOT. Marc Trestman is a winner. Just look at what he has done in the CFL. He brings a lot to this team, but that’s just the Head Coach. Nick Truesdell might be the best TE in the league. Quinton Flowers might be the most lethal weapon on any team this season. But where it becomes a question mark for me is the QB Aaron Murray. If he can be the precise passer that he is capable of being, there might be no stopping this team. He is talented, and he brings a lot to the table. But he is inconsistent. That’s where it’s troublesome for me. But here’s the thing. If they can just get into the Eastern Conference Championship, and Aaron Murray can be “good” Aaron Murray for 2 straight games, I would not be surprised in the slightest if they go on and win the XFL Championship. It’s disappointing that Antonio Callaway had an injury, because I might have them higher on this list. But look out for the Tampa Bay Vipers, because they might be your worst nightmare. I have them no. 5.

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4. Los Angeles Wildcats

Now we get into who I believe are the real contenders for the XFL Championship this year. First, we start off with the Los Angeles Wildcats. I think a lot of people would start with starting QB Josh Johnson, but I want to start with who might be my favorite Head Coach of the entire league, Winston Moss. This guy brings the energy, and in my opinion, that fits this team perfectly. Coach Moss has a winning attitude, and he is all over the Xs and Os and player personnel. I think the LA Wildcats set a record with how many moves they made this off-season. Trade after trade after trade, and some left you scratching your head. Rashad Ross??? But man, Moss’s attitude makes you truly believe that they have got this exactly how they want it. Now, who knows, maybe after a couple of games, some of those trades are going to look foolish. But as of right now, they have made a believer out of me. There defense has size and agility. Norm Chow, their OC, is a proven commodity. Elijah Hood is nothing to sneeze at. But their fire power lies in two areas. The passing game and the line backing core. Will Smith, Shawn Oakman, Taiwan Jones, Tre Williams, the list goes on. These guys are massive, and they aren’t going to be pushed around. Good luck running on these guys. And of course, Josh Johnson. What more can I say? The most proven quarterback in the league, and the fact that he is going to be throwing to guys like Tre McBride and Nelson Spruce, good luck. The Wildcats are legit, and that is why they are my no. 4 team.

3. Houston Roughnecks

Do you like offense? Do you like big plays? Do you like scoring? If you answered yes to all of these questions, let me introduce you to the Houston Roughnecks. The team, who I believe, will be the highest scoring offense in the league. Be prepared to AT LEAST score 30 points in order to be competitive in a game with the Roughnecks. June Jones, master of the “Run and Shoot” offense has weapons galore at his disposal. Let’s start with their quarterback, PJ Walker. Walker can sling it west coast, he can sling it downfield, he can run all over the field, and even if the pocket collapses, he can extend plays like it’s nobody’s business. His accuracy can sometimes be a problem, but so far in Training Camp and in the Scrimmages, he has looked as precise as ever. That should scare people, because if he can protect the football, his playmakers will do the rest. Sammy Coates, Kahlil Lewis, Sam Mobley and company will be running all over the place, and it is going to be difficult to cover them. Coach Jones’ offense is hard to prepare for, because it is predicated on makeshift plays and routes. And if you think the receivers are all you have to worry about, think again. De’Angelo Henderson and Andre Williams will be coming out of the backfield to balance out this offense, but not just to run the ball, to run and catch as well. These guys are scary. SCARY! If you aren’t catching up quick, you might be down 3 TDs before you know it. But the defense is where I’m still not so sure. Now, what I am sure about, is they will be getting to the quarterback. I know that. Kony Ealy is the truth. He will lead the league in sacks this year, mark it down. Especially, since I think a lot of teams will be having to play from behind against Houston, he is just going to be able to pin his ears back and get after it. But I’m just not sure yet on the rest of the defense. Time will tell, because if they have a good defense, just cancel the season, the Houston Roughnecks are XFL Champions. But until I see that defense, I will have them at no. 3.

2. Dallas Renegades

Bob Stoops. Hal Mumme. The best coaching staff in the league in my opinion. Coaching goes a long way, and that is why I have the Dallas Renegades winning the West this season. It sucks, because as a Roughnecks fan, I hope, I pray that I’m proven wrong. But I gotta be unbiased on these Power Rankings, and they have the goods. Landry Jones is a accurate quarterback with a strong arm, and he’s a proven winner at the highest level. Put along with that Jazz Ferguson and Jeff Badet, and you have one of the league’s most potent passing games. But it ain’t just passing. Their running back core is solid. Cameron Artis-Payne is the real deal, and every Cowboys fan remembers Lance Dunbar, he is legit. Dunbar can also be lethal in the passing game, which just gives Landry Jones another weapon to use. But what separates them from the Roughnecks for me right now, is I have a little more faith in their defense. So much so, I think they might be the most balanced team in the league. They don’t have names that are going to pop out at you, but they are solid and sound football players who will make the plays that are needed to be made in that moment. The moment isn’t too big for this team. That’s what Bob Stoops and Landry Jones brings to you. You will be seeing them in the XFL Championship later this spring. But against who?…

1. DC Defenders

Now we get to my favorite to not only win the East, but win the whole thing. The DC Defenders. Cardale Jones! Cardale Jones! A lot of people’s pick to win MVP this season. And rightfully so. He’s got a CANNON! He’s got the size to bulldoze you over. And he’s got the athleticism to extend plays. But if you think that’s it, think again. He’s got freakin’ Rashad Ross! Rashad Ross! LA gifted Cardale Jones and Pep Hamilton Rashad Ross! Why!? Who knows? Eli Rogers! Simmie Cobbs! I was talking about the Roughnecks scoring. Holy cow! How do you stop this offense!? And it doesn’t stop there. They might have the best running back group in the entire league. Jhurell Pressley, Donnel Pumphrey, Khalid Abdullah, are you kidding me? Now, just like with Houston, their defense does worry me a little bit. But that’s how much I trust Head Coach Pep Hamilton. I know he is going to make the proper adjustments necessary to win football games. He has proven time and time again, that he can succeed at a high level, and I think this time is no different. My pick to win the XFL Championship this season, my no. 1 team, the DC Defenders. Audi Field is going to be buzzing come late April.

Four XFL Teams Engage in Wide Receiver Trades

The XFL announced more trades on their transaction page Sunday with all four teams involved swapping wide receivers. This is the first trades made since December 18th as it is the latest wave of roster moves being made by teams before training camp concludes on January 21st.

Dallas Renegades trade Wide Receiver Stacy Coley to the Tampa Bay Vipers for Wide Receiver Freddie Martino

Stacy Coley performed well at mini camp last month for the Renegades as they have one of the deepest wide receiver cores in the XFL making competition fierce at the position. Jazz Ferguson has emerged as a big play receiver on the outside for Dallas which could have played a role in Coley being traded to Tampa Bay. Vipers head coach Marc Trestman loves to sling the ball as he is known for being able to work well with quarterbacks. Coley should have plenty of time to prove himself during training camp. He will have to compete with a receiving core that should open up chances to start, but Coley have great speed and showed reliable hands for Dallas.

Freddie Martino will fit perfectly in Renegades offensive coordinator Hal Mumme’s offense as he also possesses great speed as he runs at around a 4.49 40-yard dash and has a chance to come in and play in the slot. Don’t be surprised if he gets a look at special teams as well as he could be looked at as a returner. He showed great potential in his last stop in the AAF with the Arizona Hotshots where he recorded 11 catches for 126 yards. He will have a lot of competition as Ferguson as well as Flynn Nagel have made things tougher with their play on the field.

LA Wildcats trade Wide Receiver Rashad Ross to the DC Defenders for Wide Receiver Tre McBride

Rashad Ross was a force in the AAF as he was regarded as one of the best receivers in the league. He is an absolute burner and can go one-on-one with any corner in the XFL. He had 36 catches for 583 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games with the Arizona Hotshots. It comes as a surprise that the Wildcats would let him go, but this can be seen as a major boast for the Defenders. Quarterback Cardale Jones will have a deep threat to throw it to and really makes the receiver position tough for the DC coaches to decide on with Malachi Dupree and Eli Rogers highlighting a deep group. It’s safe to say that DC improved with this move and now makes what is already a talented offense better and more dangerous.

Tre McBride ran a 4.37 40-yard dash if that speaks to what kind of receiver he is at 6 foot tall. He will make for a solid slot receiver in LA. There is talent at receiver for the Wildcats, but will need to find their number one target in the offense for either Luis Perez or Josh Johnson to throw to when the season starts. McBride will have to make his mark as a deep threat with his speed and could work his way into a returner role being one of the faster players on the active roster. Chow now has another piece to the offense to play with in regards to how to utilize his speed to deep routes or wide receiver reserve runs.

Overall Impression

It’s hard to say who won with these trades as all four of these receivers will have equal opportunity to make their teams and all have prior professional football experience which is a plus. They all have until January 21st to quickly learn the offenses and show off their skills quickly. Coley and Ross should play well enough to earn roster spots and even start for their teams in week one of the season. All these receivers are good roster fits with great speed which opens up special teams returner as options for each of them.