In a time usually vacant of football, the XFL is now filling that void. With the initial league folding in the middle of its' 2001 inaugural season, many were skeptical whether or not the relaunched league could provide quality play. During the opening weekend, that question was answered. Fans love it. After a slow start, the games increasingly got better and better. There are definitely some very talented players in this league who showed out in their first games. We will be providing you a look into the brand new league with weekly power rankings. Let's get into the first installment.
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1. Houston Roughnecks 1-0 (HOU 37 - LA 17)
Hunter: Houston is an offensive powerhouse. Led by P.J. Walker, who has a cannon for an arm and is extremely elusive in the pocket, he is the closest thing the XFL will see to a Lamar Jackson type player. He was able to extend plays and find his open receivers downfield. Walker led the league this week with four passing touchdowns and finished with a QB rating of 103.8. He's surrounded by a very solid receiving core, with players such as Sammie Coates & Cam Phillips, not to forget Nick Holley who probably had the catch of the weekend. Their defense is nothing special but is good enough to keep them in games if the offense for some reason struggles.
1c3: I don't think any team impressed more week one than the Houston Roughnecks. Many teams had difficulty scoring, but the June Jones led Roughnecks put up a whopping 37 in a dominant win. P.J. Walker showed that his great NFL preseason wasn't a fluke. He completed 23 of 39 passes for 272 yards and four touchdowns. With Jones known for having high powered offenses when he was coaching for the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii, you can expect the Roughnecks to be near the top of every offensive statistical category.
MVP: P.J. Walker 272 Yards, 4 TDs.
Prediction: Houston will represent the Western Conference in the XFL Championship barring any serious injuries to Walker.
2. New York Guardians 1-0 (NY 23 - TB 3)
1c3 : The New York Guardians solidified itself as one of the top defensive teams in the league with their stellar performance. They forced the Tampa Bay Vipers into three turnovers, including a fumble return for a touchdown that sealed a Guardians 23-3 victory. While the offense wasn't great, Matt McGloin was still able to lead two touchdown drives, where he sneaked in from one yard out and threw a nice fade route to the back of the end zone. If the offense can gain consistency, the Guardians will be tough to beat.
Hunter: New York, in my opinion, is the best all-around team in the league. The only reason they aren't at the #1 spot is because of how spectacular Houston played. QB play from Matt McGloin was much better than his stats may show. He is extremely talented and will consistently make smart deep throws. The question isn't if the offense is good, it's when will they gel? The NY offense is talented and just needs a little more time to click. Once they do, their offensive unit will be a nightmare for opposing defenses. NY easily had the best defensive showing of week 1 forcing three fumbles (returning one for a touchdown) and picking off Aaron Murray twice.
MVP: NY Defense - Three FF, two Interceptions, five sacks, one defensive TD.
Prediction: Fighting for a playoff spot with St. Louis.
3. DC Defenders 1-0 (DC 31 - SEA 19)
Hunter: DC is a solid team. Did I see anything extremely special? No. The Defenders are an above-average team with potential. I like their chances to win the championship if they can get rolling. The Defenders looked slow and out of sync at times, especially at the start. I do like seeing Cardale "12 Gauge" Jones under center again. After a lethargic start, the Ohio State product finished the game completing 62% of his passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns. Eli Rogers caught all 6 of his targets for 73 yards. Jones spread the ball around well, as eight different players caught a pass. The run game was ineffective, only accumulating 58 yards on 28 attempts. The defense played well recovering a fumble and forcing 2 interceptions all while only having 1 sack.
1c3: The DC Defenders might have the most talented offense in the league. Not only do they have former National Champion Cardale Jones under center, but they also have Donnel Pumphrey, the all-time leading rusher in Division I football. In addition to those two, they have former NFL wide receiver Eli Rogers, who spent three years with the Pittsburgh Steelers. They do have a kicking problem though, and one can only wonder how good the Defenders could've been if they signed PFT Commenter. Anyways, the Defenders looked really strong in their opener and will be one of the favorites to win the XFL Championship.
MVP: Cardale Jones 235 yards, 2 TD's
Prediction: Playoff caliber team with the potential to win it all
4. St. Louis Battlehawks 1-0 (STL 15 - DAL 9)
Hunter: If you like high-scoring shootouts this game was not for you. This game was a defensive battle from the start till the end. Do I credit this to high powered defenses? No. Both offenses were out of sync for most of the game. Pounding the ball on the ground worked very well for St.Louis. The Battlehawks ran for 191 yards in the game, with 85 coming from former Redskins running back Matt Jones. They took a while to get the passing game going with 22-year-old Jordan Ta'amu leading the charge. He was able to put up a solid stat line though, despite missing a couple of throws. He finished with 209 yards passing and the winning touchdown, along with 77 yards rushing, including a 37-yard run that pretty much sealed the game. St. Louis is a Wildcard team and their success will depend on how their young QB develops, to me they are hit or miss.
1c3: I decided to root for the St. Louis Battlehawks, mainly because of their proximity to Illinois. This is definitely a team you can get behind. They have a great young quarterback in Jordan Ta'amu, who showed flashes of future NFL potential in his first start. He was off on a couple of throws, but the arm talent is there. He also flashed big-play ability on the ground, including a 37-yard scamper that set up the only touchdown in the game. The defense played well, but they were playing against a backup. They'll have a real test next week against the DC Defenders, but the Hawks showed us that there's a lot to like about them going forward. They could be a darkhorse candidate to win the title.
MVP: Jordan Ta'amu 209 passing yards, 77 rushing yards, 1 TD
Prediction: Can make playoffs if they gain more consistency on offense
5. Dallas Renegades 0-1 (DAL 9 - STL 15)
Hunter : The Renegades fall to #5 on our list because of their below-average play on both sides of the ball. They were missing their starting QB in Landry Jones who did have a stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers and is supposedly the star of the league. Backup quarterback Phillip Nelson played well completing 79% of his passes for 209 Yards. He had nothing to show for it but a interception, as the Renegades failed to score a TD in their debut game. The defensive played relatively well only allowing one total touchdown. As long as Landry is able to come back and provide a spark I can easily see them as the last seed in the playoffs.
1c3: The Dallas Renegades were able to move the ball against St. Louis, but that couldn't translate to points. Landry Jones should give this team a major boost, as he has experience playing in this type of offense. Don't look too much into this performance, Dallas is going to be a good team and I still consider them to be one of the favorites to win it all.
MVP: Lance Dunbar 58 total yards on 11 touches
Prediction: Likely playoff team that can compete for the championship
6. LA Wildcats 0-1 (LA 17 - HOU 37)
Hunter : Chemistry was the downfall of the LA Wildcats this weekend as backup quarterback Chad Kanoff filled in for an injured Josh Johnson. Kanoff and his receivers looked out of sync for a good majority of the game. He finished with 214 yards, 1 TD and 1 Interception, only completing 53% of his throws. Starting receiver Nelson Spruce was the star for LA, finishing with 11 receptions for 103 yards. Needless to say, the Wildcats can't wait for their starter to get back. The defense was solid with the run game only allowing 50 yards on 16 attempts but was ravaged in the air allowing nearly 300 yards. Hopefully, the dual-threat Josh Johnson can provide a very much needed boost to a disjointed LA Offense.
1c3: The L.A. Wildcats had a pretty good first half. They were able to move the ball up and down the field and even put up a couple of touchdowns. Everything imploded in the second half though, as they couldn't get anything going against the stout Houston defense. It will be interesting to see how the team looks when quarterback Josh Johnson returns. He has NFL experience, including starting for the Washington Redskins just a few years ago.
Team MVP: Nelson Spruce - 11 Receptions, 103 Yards
Prediction: Likely won't make the playoffs
7. Seattle Dragons 0-1 (SEA 19 - DC 31)
Hunter: QB Brandon Silvers inconsistent play slew the Dragon's hope of capturing a win week 1. He has the ability to extend plays with his legs by scrambling out of the pocket. For example, the 57 Yard Touchdown pass to Austin Proehl made possible by Silvers' mobility. He had 3 TDs but also 2 interceptions because of his willingness to air it out instead of making the smart decision to throw the ball away. The Jameis Winston of the XFL (at least for week 1). Proehl lit up his XFL debut with 88 yards on 5 catches and 2 TDs. As long as Brandon Silvers can make smarter decisions and the offense can find their groove, there is a chance Seattle can move up to #5 on our list eventually.
1c3: The Seattle Dragons showed flashes of good play in their opener. However, quarterback Brandon Silvers struggled to get it going for a good portion of the contest. The defense also played poorly, which is why they fall to #7 on our list. Austin Proehl was the lone bright spot as he was able to make big plays with the ball in his hands. Look for Dragons head coach Jim Zorn to look to get Proehl the ball more often in upcoming games.
MVP: Austin Proehl - 5 receptions, 88 yards, 2 TD's
Prediction: Most likely won't make playoffs unless Brandon Silvers becomes more consistent
8. Tampa Bay Vipers 0-1 (TB 3 - NY 23)
Hunter : The Vipers are clearly the worst team in the XFL. This starts with the coaching, yes I have bias as a Bears fan who despises Marc Trestman but I can safely say he royally fucked his team this week. The XFL is built so teams can get back into games, that's why you can get up to 3 extra points after a touchdown for a total of 9. Trestman's Vipers being down 17 in the 4th (only a 2 score game in the XFL) decided to kick a FG. So let me get this straight, let's make this 2 score game into a 3 score game? Fucking Idiot. Trestman would rather not lose bad (which he did anyway) than try to win. If I was a GM I'd fire him on the spot. His conservative coaching style in a league that rewards being aggressive will be the down fall of the Florida Snakes. Daniel Williams was the only bright spot for the Vipers with 6 receptions for 123 yards. Aaron Murray was horrible, the back-up who played for only a couple of snaps was miles better. Expect a QB change relatively soon. Fuck it give the Game MVP to the kicker, he is the franchise leader in points right now.
1c3: Marc Trestman sucks, Aaron Murray sucks. That is all
MVP: Daniel Williams 6 receptions, 123 yards
Prediction: Will continue to struggle as long as Aaron Murray starts.