Through 1 week of the XFL season, reviews seem to be overwhelmingly positive. Despite initial concerns that the league would fold immediately, the model seems to be more stable, manageable, and entertaining than it’s predecessors. Regardless of it’s watch-ability and longevity, it’s still a new league and the teams haven’t made much of an impression yet. After only a single game each, XFL teams might be hard to rank: let’s give it a go anyway.
1 – New York Guardians (1-0)
What a way to start the season off right. New York was the only team to allow 0 TDs through this first week of XFL action, and they did it on the back of what looked like one of the most balanced rosters in the league. Even-handed play calling, as well as a solid performance by QB Matt McGloin (15/29 for 182 yards, 1 pass TD, 1 rush TD, and no INTs) made for a very nice home opener in New York. The Guardians made full use of their team and look to do the same next week in St. Louis.
2 – Houston Roughnecks (1-0)
Not far from 1st place through a single week, the Roughnecks did it all with their new philosophy: the opposition can’t score if they don’t have the ball. Putting up a whopping 37 points, Houston was carried largely by QB P.J. Walker (23/39 for 272 yards, 4TDs, and 1 INT), handing out TDs to 4 different targets. The defense was none too shabby either, picking up a pair of INTs and doling out big hits all day. One of 2 teams to win by 20 this weekend, Houston has a bright future ahead of it.
3 – DC Defenders (1-0)
Starting QB Cardale Jones impressed in his XFL debut, as did the DC Defenders. ‘Defending’ they new turf was no short order, but they got it done in the end as they made good work of the Seattle Dragons. The running game way stymied by Jones (16/26 for 235 and 2 TDs) led a solid receiving unit (8 players with a reception) to victory. A balanced team played well and get to enjoy a trip to LA next week, on business.
4 – St. Louis BattleHawks (1-0)
The BattleHawks looked lethargic on offense, but stoic on defense, much like the opposing Renegades. These two teams seemed like they’d rather be elsewhere and though they both played clean games, they left something to be desired. St. Louis was consistent defensively, allowing very few yards despite forcing only 9 incompletions on 42 attempts, and forcing the game-winning INT. QB Jordan Ta’amu, however, was electric: doing it all on land (7 rushes for 78 yards) and through the air (20/27 for 209 and 1 TD) to put the BattleHawks in prime position to start putting games away.
5 – Seattle Dragons (0-1)
Kenneth Farrow was supposed to be the RB to watch, and he did the best he could in his 7 attempts with the ball, averaging 5.9 YPC for 41 yards. Despite his limited involvement, the Dragons played a good game in the XFL’s inauguration, and WR Austin Proehl reeled in the league’s very first TD (a 14-yard dart from QB Brandon Silvers). Though they didn’t do it today, keep an eye on Seattle: they’ve got potential.
6 – Dallas Renegades (0-1)
Two nearly identical teams facing off seemed like a good way to start the league off, but the St. Louis Battle Hawks traded no blows with the Renegades, and vice versa. This was the dullest game of the week by far and the once-league favourite Renegades felt lacklustre. At one point in the 4th quarter, QB Philip Nelson was 30/36 , which is impressive until you see that all that passing only adds up to 190 yards (he finished 33/42 for 209 yards and 1 INT). Did they sorely miss Landry Jones or would the system have failed to benefit him as well? We’ll find out next week when Jones returns in LA vs the Wildcats.
7 – LA Wildcats (0-1)
Rarely is a WR the lone highlight for a team. Nelson Spruce (11/15 for 103 yards) was just that on Saturday, when both the Wildcats’ QBs tossed INTs and the array of rushers they displayed all fell short of the big one. Still, the day wasn’t entirely lost, as they have plenty to work on for week 2 when they host the 1-0 DC Defenders.
8 – Tampa Bay Vipers (0-1)
Terrible news, Tampa Bay football fans: both your teams suck. Starting QB Aaron Murray was doing his best Jameis Winston impression in his first XFL game, hucking 2 INTs and 0 TDs en route to a 23-3 thrashing by the New York Guardians. Despite good showings from WR Daniel Williams (6/9 for 123 yards), RB De’Veon Smith (16 attempts for 79 yards), and backup/gadget QB Quinton Flowers (5 rushes for 34 yards), they fell way short and should look to shore up in time for week 2 in Seattle.