Week three changed the landscape of the XFL season. One of the undefeated teams fell, and a sleeping giant awakened. The next several weeks are entirely unpredictable, which is just how the XFL wants it to be. Football reimagined. Here are the week four power rankings:
Houston Roughnecks (3-0)
Can Houston be stopped? The Roughnecks continue to improve offensively, and quarterback P.J. Walker finds new and different ways to excite fans each week. Against Tampa, Walker recovered a fumbled snap and ran it for an 8-yard touchdown. Walker is clearly the best quarterback in the league right now. Currently, Walker is 67-for-105 for 748 yards and ten touchdowns. He has been intercepted only once. The only obstacle standing in Walker’s way for league MVP is his own teammate, wide receiver Cam Phillips. Phillips has caught 20 passes for 324 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Houston gets a real test this week as the Roughnecks face both a divisional and state rival: Dallas.
Up Next: vs. Dallas Renegades (away)
St. Louis BattleHawks (2-1)
The BattleHawks made a statement in the week three dismantling of the New York Guardians. St. Louis is a football town. The BattleHawks dominated New York in front of a sellout crowd of over 29,000. Special teams shone the brightest for the BattleHawks. St. Louis blocked a punt, returned a kickoff for a touchdown (an XFL first), and connected on three field-goal attempts. The BattleHawks rushed for 156 yards, controlling the clock most of the game. Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu played well, going 12-for-18 for 119 yards. More importantly, Ta’amu did not turn the ball over in the win.
Up Next: vs. Seattle Dragons (home)
Dallas Renegades (2-1)
Dallas showed two critical things on Saturday: the team is slowly beginning to gel and tight end Donald Parham is the best tight end in the XFL. Parham caught five passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns. The Renegades relied on the short passing game and well-timed runs to overtake the offensively inept Seattle Dragons. Dallas was very pass-heavy in this game, as Landry Jones threw the ball 41 times. The Renegades showed more balance in the second half, however, which led them to victory. Dallas will need a balanced attack and will have to limit turnovers to defeat the XFL leading Houston Roughnecks. The Renegades turned the ball over three times against Seattle, but the Dragons were unable to capitalize.
Up Next: vs. Houston Roughnecks (home)
DC Defenders (2-1)
Road teams in the XFL are 4-8 so far this season. DC did nothing to improve that stat against LA on Sunday, getting blown out by a score of 39-9. Nothing went right for the Defenders. Quarterback Cardale Jones looked lost, going just 13-for-26 for 103 yards. Jones also threw four interceptions. In the previous two home games, Jones was picked off only once. DC has another road game this week, so the focus has to be the theme of practice this week. The XFL east has suddenly become wide open due to this lopsided loss.
Up Next: vs. Tampa Bay Vipers (away)
LA Wildcats (1-2)
Will the real LA Wildcats please stand up? Los Angeles, winless and listless in the first two games of the season, awakened on Sunday to trounce the once unbeaten DC Defenders. Quarterback Josh Johnson, who missed game one with a hip injury, looked completely healthy against the Defenders. Johnson was 18-for-25 for 278 yards and three touchdowns. Besides Johnson’s efforts, LA’s defense intercepted four passes and blocked a punt to win the day. Head coach Winston Moss, who caught a lot of criticism for firing his defensive coordinator after game one, is looking like he may have made the right decision after all.
Up Next: vs. New York Guardians (away)
Seattle Dragons (1-2)
Seattle struggled on offense in week three, getting shut out in the second half after leading 12-6 earlier in the game. The Dragons often looked out of sync, and head coach Jim Zorn struggled with the play calls, as evidenced by the open mic access allowed by the XFL. Defensively, Seattle has played very well all season. The Dragons forced three Renegade turnovers on Saturday, but could not capitalize. The most prominent missed opportunity occurred in the fourth quarter when Seattle recovered a Landy Jones fumble on the 32-yard line. The Dragons came away with zero points. Seattle’s schedule is very challenging over the next several weeks, having to play at St. Louis and then traveling to Houston. Without some significant offensive improvement, the Dragons could be 1-4 at the halfway mark of the season.
Up Next: vs. St. Louis (away)
Tampa Bay Vipers (0-3)
Despite being winless, the Tampa Bay Vipers showed remarkable improvement in week three. Tampa led the number one rated Houston Roughnecks going into the fourth quarter, only to fall short in the end. One of the keys to success for the Vipers was head coach Marc Trestman’s decision to hand over play-calling duties to his offensive coordinator. The change resulted in the most points scored all season (27). Oddly, Tampa is still utilizing a two-quarterback approach. Adding to the confusion, quarterback Aaron Murray is returning from injury this weekend. Will Tampa employ a three quarterback strategy this week? Perhaps the unconventional thinking will result in the first victory in team history for the Vipers.
Up Next: vs. DC Defenders (home)
New York Guardians (1-2)
The New York Guardians are in shambles at this point. The Guardians used three different quarterbacks on Sunday, leading to only nine points. Third-string quarterback and AAF alum Luis Perez threw the only touchdown pass for the Guardians. Beyond that, New York was penalized twelve times for 86 yards, with multiple personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct calls. The Guardians have been outscored 56-9 in the last two road games. New York will be at home in week four, which will be a welcome change of scenery.
Up Next: vs. LA Wildcats (home)