XFL Roughnecks Cool Down Dragons

Quarterback PJ Walker led the Houston Roughnecks to their fifth win. (Credit: XFL.com

The Houston Roughnecks took down the Seattle Dragons 32-23 Saturday afternoon in what was a closer game than anyone expected. Houston went in as an 11.5 favorite, but they actually trailed for most of this game. This was BJ Daniels’ first start, PJ Walker’s first game with multiple turnovers, and this was the first game that the Roughnecks would be down by multiple touchdowns. The 14 point deficit the Roughnecks faced Saturday was the largest deficit they have faced all season. They were either going to crumble, or they were going to dig deep and fight. Luckily for all Roughnecks fans, it ended up being the latter. The Roughnecks came back to win the game, and with that they will remain perfect on the season at 5-0. Let’s see how they did it.

First off, let’s talk about PJ Walker, because this was probably his worst game of the season by far. Don’t get me wrong, he still threw for three more touchdowns, he still had some big time plays that were able to bring the Roughnecks back to victory. But he is also the reason that the Roughnecks were in a tough spot to begin with. The Dragons offense looked better with Daniels at the helm, but let’s not act like they were dominating or anything. Two of their touchdowns came from extremely short fields due to Walker turnovers. The first came on a Walker fumble, where he didn’t notice the defender behind him, and he got strip sacked. That lead to Seattle’s first touchdown. Then, later on, he threw probably the worst pass he has thrown all season, where it looked like he was throwing it right to the Dragon defender, who nearly took it back for a pick 6, if it weren’t for PJ tackling him down at the goal line. That lead to another Seattle touchdown. He then threw another interception later on in the game, to bring his turnover total to three. But even after all that, he still made the big time plays to rally his team back to victory. So we got to see how PJ Walker would deal with adversity, and he seemed to deal with it really well. He threw 2 interceptions, and still wasn’t afraid to sling it downfield. Very Brett Farve-ish. He finished with 351 yards, which is a career high, and he did that while completing 71% of his passes, and tossing 3 more touchdowns. So if this is the worst PJ Walker we are going to get, there are a lot of teams that would take that in a heartbeat.

But like always, he wasn’t the only one making plays out there. Welcome back Cam Phillips! Phillips, after being pretty much shut down against Dallas, bounced back with a huge game. He finished with 10 receptions for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was sensational, and he came through big time in the clutch moments, catching what would end up being the game winning touchdown. Sam Mobley, Nick Holley, and Kahlil Lewis were all big in the passing game as well.

But where I was really impressed, was how well the Roughnecks ran the ball. James Butler had himself a game. He ran for 52 yards and 2 touchdowns, and also was very involved in the passing game. Andre Williams also had an excellent game, running for 54 yards. and he was moving the chains all game long. If the Roughnecks can continue to build on their ground game, to go along with what is already an elite passing game, I just don’t see how you can stop this offense. The Dragons defense was very good Saturday, and the Roughnecks still managed to score 32 points. Good luck to anyone trying to stop the “Firework Show”.

The Houston Roughnecks will travel to New York to take on a revitalized Guardians team next Saturday, so we shall see if they can maintain their perfect season going for 6-0. For right now, they are STILL the best team in the XFL, ’til somebody can prove them otherwise.

XFL Week 5 Power Rankings

Four weeks are in the books, and just when you thought you had it all figured out, we have another week where the league shakes up again. The XFL has parity and that is a wonderful thing. At this point, I can honestly say, no team is truly out of it, and while we may have a pretty good idea at who the #1 seed for each conference will be, that race for the #2 seed is going to be interesting and exciting as the season progresses. But for now, let’s look at where we stand heading into Week 5.

8. DC Defenders (2-2) Last Week (4)

Yes, they are 2-2. Yes, I still believe in this team. Yes, I would still pick them over New York and Tampa Bay to grab that #2 seed. But, nobody has looked worse these past two weeks than the DC Defenders. I mean they have looked BAD. At least when Tampa Bay was looking rough those first two weeks, they were at least moving the ball downfield. Their issue was they just couldn’t get into the endzone. DC however, they can’t even move the ball downfield. Every time their offense took the field Sunday night, I had absolutely no confidence in them whatsoever. The real problem though is, neither did they. Their body language was one of defeat, and Pep Hamilton has got a huge test in front of him. We shall see if he can rally his troops, because if he can’t, DC has a shot to end up last in the East. They head back home this weekend, so that should help things, but they face a major test in the St. Louis Battlehawks. And if they play like they have the past two weeks, it is going to get ugly fast. They sit at no. 8.

7. Seattle Dragons (1-3) Last Week (6)

Welcome to the league BJ Daniels. Unfortunately, it took Jim Zorn all the way up until halftime of Week 4 to realize that BJ Daniels was his best option at quarterback. I was tempted to put Seattle a little higher, because they almost upset a really good team in the Battlehawks, but ultimately, I have to see more. And they face a big test this weekend in the undefeated Roughnecks, so we will see what this Dragons team with Daniels at the helm really looks like. From what I saw from the 2nd half on Saturday night though, I am really intrigued to see what this team can do. Now that Daniels will be getting starting reps, and they can form a game plan around his strengths, we will see how serious this team can be in making a run. Their defense is still as solid as ever, and they kept Seattle in that game against St. Louis. But it’s going to come down to the Dragons offense scoring points and not turning the football over. If they can start to do that, they will have a shot. For now, they sit at no. 7.

6. Los Angeles Wildcats (1-3) Last Week (5)

Consistency. Consistency! C’mon guys! This team has the talent. This team has the star power. This team has the weapons. But they can’t seem to string together consecutive strong performances. Even within the same game. They look good one drive. They look lost the next. Their defense makes a huge stop. Their defense allows a big play. What is this team? I know what they can be. They can be the team that absolutely destroyed the Defenders last week. But for some reason, some weeks, they would rather be the team that played Saturday afternoon. I get that it was cold. I also understand that Nelson Spruce, their leading receiver, was out. But they had their chances, and they just couldn’t capitalize. They play a much improved Vipers team at home this weekend, so we will see if they can get back on track. For now, they sit at no. 6.

5. New York Guardians (2-2) Last Week (8)

Turns out, they didn’t need to “change the entire game plan”, they just needed to change the quarterback. Now, Matt McGloin was out with a injury, but they would be crazy not to go back to Luis Perez. Perez had that offense moving the best it had all season, and the most important thing is, they didn’t turn the football over. Perez isn’t going to light it up on the stat sheet, but honestly, with this team, their offense just needs to be serviceable and turnover free. Their defense is good enough to get the job done, and if their offense can now play clean football and score enough, this team could make a serious run at that #2 seed. Their defense can create takeaways, as they did Saturday, and they will give this offense chances to capitalize. They play Dallas this weekend, who won’t have Landry Jones, so we shall see what they can do. They sit at no. 5.

4. Tampa Bay Vipers (1-3) Last Week (7)

Here come the Vipers! This is the Vipers team we thought we were going to get at the beginning of the season. Well, better late than never I guess. This team has found its identity on offense, and that is pounding the rock. They not only provided the XFL with their first 100 yard rusher, they also provided them with their second. Both Smith and Patrick were phenomenal Sunday night against the Defenders, and the Vipers brought the fight to DC on all levels. Defense, offense, and special teams were all clicking, and the East should be terrified, because this team has all the potential. Cornelius looked good, and as long as he isn’t turning the football over, he should improve week by week. I do wish that they would use Quinton Flowers, but with Flowers requesting for a trade, it seems that that ship has sailed. But nevertheless, this team can hang with the best of them as we have seen the past two weeks. Hopefully they can continue this momentum, because if they can, that #2 seed is ripe for the taking. For now, they sit at no. 4.

3. Dallas Renegades (2-2) Last Week (3)

Thank God Landry Jones’ injury was not as serious as first thought to be. He should be back Week 7 it seems like, so if Phillip Nelson can just hold down the ship until then, the Renegades should be okay. This team is for real. Landry Jones turned the football over three, THREE times…..in the 1st quarter. Yet, they still only lost by one possession, with a real chance to tie or take the lead at the end. Yes, they need to limit the turnovers, but this team is good, and it all starts with their running game. Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar have done an excellent job moving the chains and making plays when nothing else seems to be open. Donald Parham continues to be a beast, and this defense doesn’t get enough credit for how good they are. They held that high powered Houston offense to just 21 points, which is excellent when you consider that they went into that game averaging 33 points a game. Hopefully Jones can make a quick recovery, because this team to me is the clear favorite right now to take that #2 seed in the West. They sit at no. 3.

2. St. Louis BattleHawks (3-1) Last Week (2)

Nothing has changed at the top of the East. That still belongs to the BattleHawks, whose only blemish this season comes against the undefeated Roughnecks, on the road, in a game they could have won. This team is so good, and it all starts with their fantastic head coach Jonathan Hayes. He has this team in a great position to succeed, and his belief and confidence in his players has really shown through. Jordan Ta’amu continues to be a star every single week, making plays with his arm and legs, and the most impressive thing about him is his quick decision making. He protects the football, and he trust his receivers to make plays in the open field. Pierson-El has done just that, and he is quickly becoming a breakout star as well. Of course, you still have Matt Jones, Keith Ford, and Christine Michael holding down that running game, and this defense is the best in the league. I don’t see anyone slowing down this team, and they might roll into DC and crush their season this Sunday. This team is awesome, but they are still no. 2.

1. Houston Roughnecks (4-0) Last Week (1)

Because the Houston Roughnecks have still not tasted defeat. This team is impressive on so many levels. Let’s get the obvious out of the way. The Houston offense is unstoppable. You can maybe slow them down a bit, but as long as PJ Walker is under center, you are not shutting them down. Four weeks now, and it’s pretty clear, PJ Walker is the BEST quarterback in the XFL. He is phenomenal! Whether it’s throwing passes like the one he finessed to Nick Holley on the sideline, that was just BEAUTIFUL. Or if he’s running over defenders and knocking them down like he did Sunday afternoon. He has been magical, and there is no stopping him. Now, Dallas’ defense was able to shut down Cam Phillips, but other guys stepped up. Like I mentioned before, Nick Holley was one of those guys, but you also had Khalil Lewis, Sam Mobley, Sammie Coates, and James Butler and Andre Williams all made contributions Sunday afternoon. But again, we already know how good their offense is. But their defense has been suspect this season. They give up a lot of yards, they give up a lot of points, but give them credit, because they somehow ALWAYS come up with a big play. And Sunday afternoon, they came up with a bunch of them. Four interceptions total, five total takeaways, and none greater than the one that sealed the game by Gates at the goal line. Dallas was fixing to punch it in to possibly tie or take the lead, and De Marquise Gates made an excellent interception to seal the game, by never letting that ball off of Nagel’s hands touch the ground. It was spectacular. The defense has sealed the past three wins with game saving interceptions. At some point, that might not be the case, but the point has not come. So they are still the best team in the XFL.

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.

A Tale of Two Halves – Dallas Renegades at Seattle Dragons

Dragons quarterback Brandon Silvers went 21 for 34, for 204 yards and one interception. (Credit: XFL.com

48 degrees, cloudy and a 100% chance of football at Century Link.

This past Saturday, the 1-1 Dallas Renegades traveled to Century Link to play the 1-1 Seattle Dragons in a battle for second place in the West. The Renegades and the Dragons were both coming off games where the offense started off extremely slow but came to life in the second half and led them to week 2 victories.

From the first drive, this stadium was humming. As Landry Jones entered the shotgun about to take the first snap of the game, this crowd got loud. Screaming and waving their orange towels, Dragon fans made their presence felt forcing two pre-snap penalties and aiding the Dragons defense in forcing an early three and out.

Renegade players admitted that the crowd noise did affect them. “At first it impacted us greatly,” said running back Cameron Artis-Payne. “But around the third drive we kind of got it together.”

Artis-Payne said that around the end zones, the Renegades had to switch to a silent snap count.

The Dragons immediately responded with one of their best offensive drives of the season. Brandon Silvers completed 3/4 passes for 43 yards and had an impressive 1st down scramble. On 3rd & 10, Silvers hung in the pocket and took a hit as he delivered a 21-yard touchdown strike to Austin Proehl. The quick 6-0 lead built by the Dragons would not last, though.

The Renegades responded by storming back down the field and scored on a 12-yard catch and run by wide receiver Flynn Nagel. Landry Jones started out slow, peppering the running backs with targets for minimal gains, but eventually got going after two straight 3rd down pass interference calls kept the Renegades offense on the field. Jones found big targets, Donald Parham and Jazz Ferguson, for first downs before hitting Nagel for the score.

After two quick scores, the offenses for both teams would hit a wall. A little punting and some ill-advised throws later, it was still a 6-6 game and the Dragons had the chance to take the lead going into halftime. Coming off an interception, Silvers responded well making some huge throws; a 29-yard completion to Austin Proehl and the 19 yard TD pass to running back Kenneth Farrow. Farrow, one of the three dynamic running backs for the Dragons, ran a great route, beating the linebacker, and Silvers dropped in a perfect throw.

Coach Jim Zorn was impressed by the play of Brandon Silvers this week. “He definitely improved (from week 2 to week 3),” said Zorn. “We were a lot better on third down and he managed the game very well.”

Silvers also said that he was more comfortable and felt that he played a lot better in the first half.

Going into the locker room, the Dragons had played one of their most complete halves of the season. They had, for the most part, shut down the Renegades offense and had put together some impressive drives on offense. Up 12-6 and getting the ball to start the half, the Dragons were in a good position

Then the second half happened. The Dragons offense sputtered, having three 3-and-outs and the defense was on the field 24/7, eventually allowing some big plays to the Renegades offense. Among the second half stars on offense for the Renegades were running back Cameron Artis-Payne and tight end Donald Parham. Artis-Payne had 110 total yards and Parham had 101 yards and 2 touchdowns. Parham’s 65 yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter really put the game out of the Dragon’s reach.

When asked about Artis-Payne running wild in the second half, Zorn said that [Artis-Payne] did a great job hitting the holes but the Dragon’s defense lost contain on some of the plays.

Despite the big turnaround, Renegades Coach Bob Stoops said that the team did not make any huge adjustments at halftime.

“It was mostly the coordinators communicating with people in the box on what our issues were in the first half. There was just some talk like ‘If we get in this set and run this or that we have a better chance rather than a certain other set’,” said Stoops. “We don’t all of the sudden find new plays but we may call some other things and different sets more often. That is what we did in the second half with the two-back sets which helped set up the run game and the play action.”

“They brought a little bit more pressure and they were coming off the edge,” said Silvers in regards to the halftime adjustments made by the Renegades. “We just did not make enough plays. They are a good team but us not scoring anything in the second half cannot happen.”

The Renegades went on to win 24-12 and the Dragons fell to 1-2 on the season, putting them in 3rd place in the West.

This game had shades of the week 1 loss when the offense just sputtered late in the game after going toe-to-toe with the opposition for most of the game. Zorn said it was encouraging because he knows the mistakes are very fixable but it still stings because they were so close.

The Dragons will fly away from Century Link next week and begin a little road trip with the St. Louis Battlehawks first on the docket. The Dome in St. Louis could be a tough place to play as they are projected to match the Dragons has the highest attended games. The Dragons could be in for a loud, hostile environment like the one the Renegades had to play in today.

In regards to injured wide receiver Kasen Williams’ status, Zorn was non-committal. “His quad was not responding so we had a procedure last week where they ejected blood pooled up in his quad,” said Zorn. “I am hoping for improvement and to see some progress this week now that we got some stuff to heal his quad.”

“It is a nuisance to him,” said Zorn. “He wanted to be out on the field last week and I can’t put him on yet.”

At least there is some improvement in the status of Williams but it does not sound like there is a huge chance he plays this coming week.

Going into next week, the Dragons are in an almost make or break spot already. Falling to 1-3 and having to play Houston right afterwards is not a good spot to be in. It is crucial to win one of the next two games at least and in St. Louis is their best chance.

Until next week, Go Dragons!

How the Dallas Renegades can beat the Seattle Dragons

The Dallas Renegades will need to find several ways to win their upcoming game on Saturday against the Seattle Dragons.
The Dallas Renegades will need to find several ways to win their upcoming game on Saturday against the Seattle Dragons. (Credit: XFL.com)

The Dallas Renegades are back on the road, and this time they head to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Seattle Dragons this Saturday. They went to Carson, California to take down the LA Wildcats in a close 25-18 win. Their latest road trip challenge could put the team to the test. Seattle’s defense is considered to be one of the best in the league and the rushing attack has a deep running back core to deal with. Many challenges face the Renegades heading into their matchup on Saturday. So, the question is how do you defeat the Dragons in the best home field advantage in the league?

Get Landry Jones’ Confidence Up Early

Renegade fans saw early that Landry Jones was a bit rusty in his first play on the football field in over two years. He threw two interceptions in the game, but completed almost 70 percent of his passes and threw for over 300 yards (the first XFL player to do so). There are signs that Jones has the ability to be one of the best passers in the XFL. Patience will be key for not only fans, but the Jones as well. During the broadcast, many noticed Jones was taking responsibility for his mistakes and looked confident as the leader of the team. That earned the respect of many in the media and fans alike.

The Dragons defense had a great showing last week as they forced three turnovers and sacked the Tampa Bay Vipers’ quarterbacks four times in the win. They will provide plenty of pressure on Jones. He had similar experience against LA as Jones faced a lot of pressure from the defensive line. Offensive coordinator Hal Mumme will have to call a lot of quick, short passes to add spacing to the passing game and avoid Jones getting hit. Jones knows the offense and knows he needs to protect the ball to win the turnover battle. Expect him to learn from his mistakes and go into week three with a lot more confidence.

Run the Ball

The coaching staff knew from the beginning of the season that the running back position would be tough to decide who to run the ball since the depth of the backs are so deep. Week one was a major disappointment as the team ran for 58 rushing yards against the St. Louis BattleHawks. Week two was a whole different story as they drastically improved with 154 yards rushing in the win against the LA Wildcats. It may be early, but having a successful running game might be the key to the offense being successful. Giving the ball to Cameron Artis-Payne would be a good start.

Artis-Payne only gained six yards on two carries in the season opener. In week two, he recorded 99 yards rushing on 14 carries. His play, as well as Lance Dunbar’s play, made the difference in the fourth quarter against LA. The running game was needed in the game since Landry Jones was easing back into the offense. Artis-Payne and Dunbar were the keys to the team winning their game against the Wildcats. They will be called upon to do it again.

Frank Alexander Needs a Big Game

Winston Craig was ruled out of the game Saturday against the Seattle Dragons which is a big loss for a defensive line that doesn’t have a lot of depth in the first place. Gelen Robinson stepped in nicely last week with two quarterback hurries and one tackle for loss. Being listed as the backup on the roster, Robinson should be taking over as the starter on the opposite end of the best defensive lineman on the team in Frank Alexander.

Alexander recorded the first sack in Dallas Renegades’ history in week one against the St. Louis BattleHawks. He has proven to be a dominant pass rusher with great ability off the edge. He will be called upon to step up and make plays in Craig’s absence. A key could be Alexander might demand double teams which could open up for the other lineman to get sacks and quarterback pressures. With Craig being injured and out, watch out for more blitzes being called from the linebacker position.

Shutdown the Seattle Running Game

The Dragons have three strong running backs who could start for any team in the XFL. With Kenneth Farrow, Ja’Quan Gardner, and Trey Williams splitting carries between the three, Dallas could have their hands full. Dallas fans saw it first hand at Globe Life Park when St. Louis ran for 191 yards with Matt Jones and Jordan Ta’amu gashed the defense. Last week was a better performance from the Dallas defense against the run, but they played a winless LA team who hasn’t had the strongest running game this season. If Dallas’ front seven can’t stop the running game, it could spell for a long day for the defense.

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 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.

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

(NON-CONTENDERS)

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.

(CONTENDERS)

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.