The first weekend of the new iteration of the XFL has come and gone. All in all, it appears to be a success so far if the fact that it outsold the defunct AAF’s entire lone season in ticket sales within just one weekend is any indication. Some teams took an early lead in making themselves known as winners, while others struggled. Let’s take a look at the first XFL Power Rankings to see where each team lands.
2020 XFL Power Rankings: Week 1
1. Houston Roughnecks (1-0)
Two quarterbacks in particular stood out in Week 1, but Phillip “PJ” Walker stood out in particular by leading a deadly pass offense with four touchdown passes. They put up 37 points in total in their first go-around, which was the most of any team in Week 1. They didn’t rely much on the running game, but they didn’t really need to and it worked well enough later in the game and they got a touchdown out of it. The defense also did its part, pulling a shutout in the second half and getting two interceptions.
They may seem a little one-dimensional due to heavily relying on the passing game. But it certainly worked for them in Week 1. We’ll see whether they can continue to be successful this way and whether they’ll try and balance the offense a little more later.
2. DC Defenders (1-0)
The DC Defenders also had a strong passing attack led by Cardale Jones that helped them get their first win. There were also a couple of big plays by the defense, including a pick-six that essentially sealed the game. The one thing that they struggled at was running the ball. Unlike the Roughnecks, they actually tried it repeatedly but failed to go anywhere, averaging only 2.4 yards an attempt. It didn’t hurt them too badly this time, but they may need to get more traction out of the running game in the future.
Still, they can’t complain too much. Their quarterback gave one of the top two performances of the weekend, and their defense played strongly as well. And they’re the only other team besides Houston to crack 30+ points. They’ve established themselves as an early threat in this league.
3. St. Louis BattleHawks (1-0)
St. Louis scored the least amount of points among the winners in Week 1, but that shouldn’t necessarily be a deterrent. They had arguably the most balanced offense of all, as quarterback Jordan Ta’amu played efficiently and they had almost 200 rushing yards. The only issue seemed to be scoring points, but they made up for that by playing strong defense, holding Dallas to only nine points.
They’ll certainly need to score more points in future weeks. But they still established themselves as a winner in Week 1, and they do have a balanced and efficient offense as well as what looks to be a lockdown defense (granted, it was against a backup quarterback). The lack of scoring keeps them from being nearer a top spot for now, but this team does look promising.
4. New York Guardians (1-0)
New York had probably the most dominant win of the week, but don’t let that fool you. They were playing against a team led by Aaron Murray (more on him and his team later), and while their defense was certainly dominant and had multiple takeaways… they had an easy opponent. Their offense was less impressive. Matt McGloin didn’t play badly, but only had 182 yards and meanwhile, the team only had 44 yards of rushing. Sure, they didn’t struggle with turnovers. But they could’ve made this game a lot more ugly if they’d moved the ball better.
If their defense can play like this against stronger opponents, they might be okay even without a higher octane offense. But if not, they’ll have to do more. And their showing on offense doesn’t seem overly promising. Still, they did win and that does put them off to a good start.
5. Seattle Dragons (0-1)
Among the four losers, the Dragons put up likely the best performance. They were in the game right until the fourth quarter when Brandon Silvers threw a pick-six. Silvers was quite inconsistent, but he did still throw three touchdown passes and the running game was efficient. Their main issue will be avoiding turnovers in the future – which may come down to Silvers.
They do have a fair amount of positives to work with, though. They were moving the ball well when they weren’t turning the ball over, and on defense, they shut down the running game. Their pass defense left more to be desired, however. Still, there’s good reason to think this team can win some games as long as they avoid giving the ball up.
6. Los Angeles Wildcats (0-1)
This is where ranking a couple of the teams gets tricky – because two of the weekend’s losing teams were playing with backup quarterbacks. That makes it harder to evaluate. The Wildcats had a tale of two halves – the first half they were quite efficient, even with a quarterback they had just recently signed. Unfortunately, perhaps due in part to that quarterback’s hotheadedness, they imploded in the second half and failed to score a single point.
Still, the offense as a general unit performed decently. Their running game was efficient, and they had arguably the best performance by a receiver across the league as Nelson Spruce brought in 11 catches for 103 yards. But their defense left a lot to be desired, as they got shredded by Houston. We’ll be able to get a better idea of how good the offense is when Josh Johnson returns, but the defense will have to play better.
7. Dallas Renegades (0-1)
Like the Wildcats, Dallas was also missing their starting quarterback Landry Jones. In contrast to Los Angeles, however, their offense didn’t really accomplish much – even for one half. They were even more reliant on the passing game than Houston, but they relied too much on short passes. Philip Nelson had 33 completions, but only 209 yards. Meanwhile, they only tried running the ball 12 times, even though it was a close game the whole way through.
Their defense at least kept St. Louis from running roughshod over them. But the fact that their own offense failed to get into the end zone even once and the lack of big plays on offense doesn’t bode well for them, even with a backup playing. Maybe the scheme will change when Jones returns, but right now this squad doesn’t look promising.
8. Tampa Bay Vipers (0-1)
There’s a common factor between the bottom dwelling Vipers of the XFL and the former bottom dweller Atlanta Legends of the defunct AAF. Both had Aaron Murray at quarterback. There is a question of whether Murray will remain the starter, but as long as he is, this team looks unlikely to go anywhere.
What’s problematic for them, however, is that they were turning the ball over even without Murray’s gaffes. This included a receiver fumbling the ball which was returned for a touchdown. The running game did well, but that’s about the best that can be said. Tampa Bay has cemented themselves firmly in the cellar.
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