This league only gets better. With 5 weeks passed already, the midpoint in the season couldn’t have been a dull one if it tried. It didn’t try, with all but 1 game ending in a single-score point differential. League ratings hold steady and people can’t seem to stop watching this new, exciting, football league. Let’s get into it:
#1: Houston Roughnecks 5-0 (+0)
Where do you go once you get to the top? Nowhere, apparently. The Houston Roughnecks are the undisputed best team in springtime football and they own it. Admittedly, taking a knee with 2 seconds left in the game on 4th down on your own 21-yard line whilst you’re up 1 score (9 points) was probably not the best move, but XFL Officiating Supervisor Wes Booker let them off the hook.
P.J. Walker to Cam Phillips made it’s return this week, as they connected for 122 yards, completing 10 of 13 attempts and 2 of Walker’s 3 TDs. Walker handed out 351 yards in total, including 95 on 6 to S Mobley and 72 to standout Nick Holley (largely owed to a 50-yard TD). They have the most complete team around and don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
#2: DC Defenders 3-2 (+2)
Nothing to note here, in truth. Cardale Jones went 0/2 with 1 INT and the coaches decided they’d seen enough already. He was immediately pulled, and backup QB Tyree Jackson answered the call by delivering a 9-yard TD to Khari Lee. The game ended there, in a way, as that was the only significant score on the day for either team.
Jackson went on to go 9/14 for an uneventful 39 yards. RB Jhurell Pressley was the entirety of the Defenders offense, churning out 107 yards on 15 attempts. Likely the least entertaining game of the year, for those who are counting.
#3: St. Louis BattleHawks 3-2 (-1)
What happened? The play of the St. Louis BattleHawks seems to rise and fall about as quickly as an unkempt bouncy house. QB Jordan Ta’Amu was good but underutilized, the run game was consistent and effective, and WR L’Damian Washington has the best game of his life (8 of 5 for 114 yards). How does all this translate to only 6 points? Good question. We don’t really have answers for you here, so go elsewhere.
#4: New York Guardians 3-2 (+2)
After a tough win against the Wildcats last week, the Guardians hit cruise control this week. A splatter of field goals, a pair of offensive TDs, and one very shiny pick-6 all added up to make for a game that could’ve been won by Team 9. It goes to show the unpredictability of week-to-week XFL football, as stars rise and fall with increasing impunity.
The pick-6, by DE Ryan Mueller, was executed about as beautifully as a DE could’ve done. A bat, save, stiff-arm, and route that an NFL WR would be proud of all led to one of the best TDs of the year. QB Luis Perez picked up over 1/3 of his 229 yards on an 80-yarder to WR Colby Peterson, owed largely to some incredibly poor tackling by Dallas.
#5: Dallas Renegades 2-3 (-2)
An ugly loss to the New York Guardians seemed to be on the menu this Saturday, and Dallas ate their fill. On the back of their recent successes, this felt like a step back, as 2 field goals were the only offensive scores on the day for the usually apt Renegades. They slapped on a too-little-too-late TD on an impressive kickoff return, but they left much to be desired.
CB Josh Hawkins forced a physical interception, his 2nd of the season, in a dismal losing effort that should force the Renegades to learn their lessons now, or repeat them later.
#6: L.A. Wildcats 2-3 (+1)
One team’s villain, another’s hero. CB Jack Tocho reeled in the game-saving INT to put the whole thing away on Sunday night in what was likely the best game of the season so far. In a deadly shootout, the Wildcats shot straightest and furthest, forcing their way back into playoff contention.
Breaking the 1000-yard passing barrier was no small feat for QB Josh Johnson, but neither was handing out receptions for 9 different receivers and TDs to 4 of them. His smallest accomplishment of any significance on Sunday was leading the team in rushing yards, along with everything else. We may be watching a star in the making here.
#7: Tampa Bay Vipers 1-4 (-2)
This was one comeback that fell just short. Tampa has a lot to be proud of this go around, but holding just 1 win after half the season has passed isn’t enough. Either they need to turn on the jets now or it’ll be too late to qualify for playoff contention, though they luckily reside only 2 games short of their postseason spot.
In a shootout, QB Taylor Cornelius fell just shy as a wayward INT ended what was likely one of the best individual performances of the season (22/34 for an even 300 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs). The WR group featured 3 separate 80+ yard guys (Jalen Tolliver for 95 and a TD, Reece Horn for 90 and a TD, and Dan Williams for 86).
#8: Seattle Dragons 1-4 (+0)
Dragons fans may believe that they were robbed on Saturday afternoon. Most fans would say otherwise, as the first significant refereeing controversy in XFL history reared it’s head. It’s not a controversial issue, however, if everyone agrees. The Dragons should have had the ball at the Roughnecks 21-yard line with 2 seconds left on the clock, but, instead, the referees called game. They needed a TD, as well as a 3-point conversion to tie the game, and it was unlikely that they would’ve had it.
Regardless, it was an unimpressive performance for the most part from the XFL’s dumpster dwellers. The uninspiring run-first play was just that. Uninspiring. Lacklustre, dull, and entirely successful in taking the X-factor out of the FL. The lone highlight was QB Brandon Daniels rushing in 2 TDs, though he passed for none and generally was the least entertaining man on the field.