The rebooted XFL franchise’s first weekend went off without a hitch.
With four games complete, four teams are in the win column, while four others are still searching for their first victories in franchise history. A new sports league creates uncertainty. It’s unclear which teams are considered the ones to beat on a weekly basis or the contenders who look like they’ll have a shot at a championship. Which teams are doomed to spend the season at the bottom of the standings? Next week’s games will continue to provide more clarity.
With that in mind, here are the XFL power rankings after the first week of the regular season.
1. Houston Roughnecks
They scored the most points of any team in the league. They had the best quarterback performance. And they battled back after falling into an early hole in the first half. In their 37-17 victory against the L.A. Wildcats, quarterback P.J. Walker put on a clinic with 272 passing yards and four touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Walker spread the ball around, with eight different players catching a pass. The leading Roughneck receiver had 67 yards.
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2. D.C. Defenders
Quarterback Cardale Jones showed why he was so effective at Ohio State and why he was drafted years ago into the NFL in Saturday’s 31-19 victory against the Dragons. Of all the XFL passers in Week 1, he had the cleanest performance, completing 61.5 % of his throws for 235 yards with two scores and one sack. But in outscoring Seattle 19-6 in the second half, D.C. showed it could adjust and finish games.
3. New York Guardians
Defense was a big reason why the Guardians beat the Battlehawks. New York tied with the Roughnecks for the league-high in sacks forced with five in their 23-3 victory against the Vipers. Quarterback Matt McGloin looked solid even though the offense left several plays on the field with self-enforced errors like penalties and execution lapses. It looks like the Guardians might have the XFL’s best defensive line, if not entire defensive unit.
4. St. Louis Battlehawks
They arguably had the most complete game out of all teams, striking a solid balance between rush and pass. But they leaned on the rush. Offensive line play is tricky in leagues outside of the NFL because talented linemen are tough to find. Still, St. Louis led the XFL with 191 rushing yards behind a two-headed tandem of Matt Jones (21 attempts for 85 yards) and quarterback Jordan Ta’amu (nine attempts for 77 yards), whose athleticism helped open up the passing game.
5. Seattle Dragons
The Dragons tied the game in the third quarter, but couldn’t fend off the Defenders. The defense is an area of concern after it sputtered in the second half against D.C., but the Dragons actually outgained the Defenders 310-295, converted more trips in the red zone and posted an effective 4.6 yard-per-carry average. The key moving forward will be limiting turnovers, as two interceptions and a fourth-quarter fumble proved to be costly.
6. Los Angeles Wildcats
They fired defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson on Monday after giving up a league-high 37 points. They also need to shore up their offensive line play after allowing Houston to sack them five times. Their biggest concern should be a second half in which they came out flat. The Wildcats were shut out in the final two quarters and allowed Houston to put up 19 points. After gaining 210 net yards in the first half, L.A. posted just 47 in the second.
7. Dallas Renegades
Bob Stoops hadn’t coached since January 2017 — and though there are certainly other factors that played into Dallas’ 15-9 loss — it showed. The Renegades couldn’t sustain drives and converted just one of 10 third-down attempts. They couldn’t finish drives and failed to score a touchdown on either of their two red-zone trips.
8. Tampa Bay Vipers
Quite the first week for the Vipers. They went into their opener against the Guardians as the favorite, but they scored a league-low three points. They have the XFL’s first quarterback controversy with Aaron Murray sputtering and calls for Quinton Flowers to start — and they fielded cries on social media for coach Marc Trestman to get the boot. Kicking a field goal when losing by 17 didn’t help. It’s only Week 1.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes.
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