By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
With two weeks of play under their belts, the XFL took a major collective step forward offensively this week. The ‘preseason period’ as a few of the broadcast teams called it is over, which explains some unexpected outburst. On the flip side, those teams that haven’t figured it out may just be showing their true colors.
Which teams put together statements, and who is in trouble of being rendered irrelevant as the season approaches its halfway point? To the Week 4 Power Rankings we go...
1. Houston Roughnecks (3-0)
Last week: 1
Is it concerning that Houston allowed 27 points to a previously impotent Tampa offense this week? Probably. Do I care? No. The Roughnecks have the best offense in the league, led by PJ Walker who is the unquestioned MVP to this point. They may end up in some shootouts, but I’ll take them in that sort of game against anybody else.
Keep an eye on wide receiver Cam Phillips as the season goes on. Obviously Walker has been the star, but Phillips is making a serious case for an NFL roster spot. He put up his second three-touchdown game of the season, and leads the XFL in receiving yards. He’s been insanely fun to watch.
Every @camphil5 TD from yesterday ???? 8️⃣ CATCHES 1️⃣ 9️⃣4️⃣ YARDS https://t.co/1KjkGorTxf
2. Dallas Renegades (2-1)
Last week: 3
While Landry Jones’ second week back wasn’t dominating, it was a major improvement. He threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns in the Renegades 24-12 win over Seattle. 101 of those yards and two of the touchdowns went to tight end Donald Parham, who is proving to be one of the tougher covers in the XFL.
Cameron Artis-Payne added 110 all-purpose yards in a well rounded effort. Dallas sort of fell into the second spot this week, but they’ll have a chance to cement themselves when they play Houston next.
@Jiggydd_49 [email protected]_49 having a coming out party at CenturyLink Field, and the Renegades lead 21-12 with under 9 minutes to play! #RaisingHell ???? #ForTheLoveOfFootball https://t.co/WO49IIOM10
3. DC Defenders (2-1)
Last week: 2
Even great teams have a bad game now and then. It happens. Sunday wasn’t just the first time the Defenders traveled, they had to go all the way across the country to play a supremely talented L.A. team fighting to save its season.
That being said, it was a pretty pitiful effort. Cardale Jones had been nails for two weeks, but his four interceptions were brutal. On defense D.C. barely got to the quarterback, something they’ve excelled at all season. I’m willing to assume this was a one-time slip up and only drop them to third, but there’s now game tape on how to beat them and how to beat them badly.
The @XFLWildcats get their fourth interception and fifth total turnover. Sheesh. ???? @FS1 ???? https://t.co/LsFYGAPLBa https://t.co/OTGs3dt39J
4. St. Louis Battlehawks (2-1)
Last week: 4
St. Louis remains a successful but confusing team. They can throw the ball well, but don’t do it often. Their opponents get to the red zone often, but rarely score. An emotional first home game against a bad New York team doesn’t help solve much. It was cool to see them record the first kick return touchdown in league history, and on a trick play none the less.
The one thing definitive about the Battlehawks is this team loves playing together. They’re fun to watch when things are clicking, the roster works well as a unit. As the season wears on, that’s going to matter more and more. I’m intrigued, but still not sold.
The first ever XFL kickoff return for a TD. B E A U T I F U L https://t.co/zqdHTlxMaL
5. Los Angeles Wildcats (1-2)
Last week: 6
Patience paid off with the Wildcats, who finally played at the level the talent on their roster suggests. They walloped a stellar Defenders team 39-9 as Josh Johnson shook off the rust, throwing for 278 yards and three touchdowns. The craziest part is he did it without the team’s leading wide receiver, Nelson Spruce, getting any targets until garbage time. With the secondary weapons in place, this offensive unit can be a problem.
Defensively, L.A. was constantly in Cardale Jones’ face, forcing five turnovers and collecting three sacks. The ‘Cats now get what should be back to back easy games against New York and Tampa. They’re far from out of it after an 0-2 start.
By the way, give whoever put this tweet together a raise.
MR. EXCITEMENT DOES IT AGAIN! ???? DC 3 | LA 33 #TheWildcatWay https://t.co/kwkOgqxFpv
6. Seattle Dragons (1-2)
Last week: 5
Brandon Silvers only threw one interception this week, and that’s about all the good news there is for the Dragons. They’re still a run-first team that struggles to run the football, and the defense hasn’t been good enough to get them through games.
Seattle has played in three close games, which is more than can be said about the rest of the league. They must be doing something right, it’s just hard to tell what it is. The pieces are there (Farrow, Reynolds, Proehl) for them to make some more noise on offense, they just can’t get them in the right spots.
Brandon Silvers to Austin Proehl. Touchdown. #ForTheLoveOfFootball | #BreathingFire ???????? https://t.co/rGSzVqyz21
7. Tampa Bay Vipers (0-3)
Last week: 8
Tampa gave Quinton Flowers a bigger role in the offense, and they actually put up numbers! Who would have thought? The tempo of the game certainly helped, but the Vipers were finally able to show something on offense. The problem? PJ Walker rendered it useless.
Still, sometimes seeing a bogey putt go in the hole can help your confidence the rest of the round. Tampa’s defense had been at least a neutral to this point, so if the offense can catch up they should have a chance to play in some close games. They need to get Taylor Cornelius out of the picture and run an option offense around Flowers. Next up is a D.C. team looking to avenge a bad loss, so they’d better come with something good. Also, they need to burn these uniforms.
The play that made that touchdown possible ‼️ @i_BSmith4 | #HOUvsTB https://t.co/8zTHhAv2uw
8. New York Guardians (1-2)
Last week: 7
Show me two things that go together better than New York and disaster football. The only thing this team does on a more consistent basis than turn the ball over is get into fights, either with their opponent or themselves. We were robbed of a Matt McGloin halftime interview this week when his team was getting demolished going into the break.
It doesn’t look like there’s much they can fix either. McGloin should objectively be the third or forth best quarterback in the league, and he has capable receivers, but they’re just not on the same page. The defense is committing a ton of penalties, and there seem to be basic mistakes on special teams at least once a game. I’d say it’s time to tank, but who knows if there will be a draft or another season to tank for?
They call it SPECIAL teams for a reason, folks ???? @espn ???? https://t.co/qZVDJBytZi https://t.co/TzT1GjGjPB
Barth’s Week Four Game You Should Watch: Houston Roughnecks (3-0) @ Dallas Renegades (2-1), Sunday 4 p.m.
One versus two, Texas versus Texas, June Jones versus Bob Stoops. However you want to swing it, this projects to be a fantastic football game. If Landry Jones continues to progress like he has the last two weeks this will be a bona fide shootout. Houston has a chance to truly separate from the pack as the lone elite XFL team, while Dallas could create a situation where the league is five teams deep with contenders. Tune in.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Hate mail? Let him hear it on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].