Forty percent of the XFL 2023 regular season has been completed. With six weeks left to play before the XFL playoffs. Two teams are still unbeaten at the top of their respective divisions, while two others remain winless.
Let’s see how all eight XFL teams stack up after four weeks of play as we head toward Week 5.
XFL 2023: Week Fiver Power Rankings
#1: Houston Roughnecks (4-0)
The Roughnecks are now 9-0 in their XFL history after their best all-around performance of the season Saturday night in Orlando. Houston’s 44-16 conquering of the Guardians marks the most points scored by a team in XFL history. Dating all the way back to XFL 1.0 in 2001.
The Roughnecks rolled to a 20-0 lead quickly against Orlando. Thanks to a defensive score and a red-hot offense that added some extra sizzle to their steak with a double forward pass executed by league standout WR Jontre Kirklin.
The Roughnecks would appear to be repeating their weekly pattern of going into cruise control in the second half. Especially when Orlando rallied to cut Houston’s lead to 26-16. However, Wade Phillips’s defense and rising coaching star A.J. Smith’s offense slammed the door shut on any potential Guardians rally, rattling off and 18-0 shutout to close the game.
Everyone expected Houston to handle Orlando easily in their first of three straight road games. But they face their stiffest challenge to stay unbeaten in Week 5. The Roughnecks have a short work week; they will be in Seattle Thursday night to meet the 2-2 Sea Dragons. The game will air on ESPN at 10:30 pm ET/9:30 pm CT.
Houston is stepping up in class for the next few weeks. They play at Seattle and D.C. and then return home to play the Battlehawks. We are going to find out how good the Roughnecks are. But thus far, they have been the league’s best.
#2: D.C. Defenders (4-0)
The Defenders stay undefeated after a 32-18 victory over the Vipers. D.C. is now 6-0 all-time at Audi Field.
Reggie Barlow deserves a lot of credit for the way his new team has opened the XFL season. It can be challenging getting 51 players and an entire coaching staff to get on the same page when they work together for a short time.
But from the outset, Barlow’s Defenders have quickly established an identity. They are a smashmouth team that plays excellent complimentary football.
D.C. was too much for Vegas overall on Sunday night.
After four games, one team looks like a fully polished product, while the other is still trying to discover itself.
D.C. is now 4-0 within their division, and they have a chance to go 5-0 in the North in Week 5. They will be headed to St. Louis to meet the Battlehawks for a second time on Saturday night. A sweep of STL by D.C. will all but seal the Northern Division.
#3: St. Louis Battlehawks (3-1)
Week 4 in the XFL was all about the Battlehawks returning home for the first time in three years. And their return to STL didn’t disappoint. St. Louis soared past the Arlington Renegades 24-11 in front of 38,310 fans. The total set an XFL attendance record, surpassing the 38,253 fans at the San Francisco Demons home opener in 2001. Sunday’s Battlehawks crowd was the largest for a spring pro football game in the United States in three decades.
For the first time in four weeks, the Battlehawks didn’t have to overcome a two-score deficit. St. Louis was able to put forth a complete team effort from start to finish.
Anthony Becht’s bunch is a clear contender for a league championship. But for them to have a chance to accomplish that feat, they will need to exact revenge against the D.C. Defenders at home this coming Saturday in The Dome. It’s arguably the biggest game of the XFL season to this point. And it could very well be a preview of the Northern playoff final. The winner of this Week 5 game could help determine where that game is eventually played.
#4: Seattle Sea Dragons (2-2)
After a 15-6 victory at home at Lumen Field over the San Antonio Brahmas. The Seattle Sea Dragons have blazed their way back into the playoff picture with two consecutive wins.
It wasn’t pretty, and the Dragons continued to burn themselves with costly mistakes at inopportune times. So much, so that head coach Jim Haslett jokingly threatened to kill his quarterback Ben DiNucci for a poorly timed interception late in the game. However, Seattle has found a way to win after finding ways to lose in their first two weeks.
The Dragons, thanks to a passing attack that eclipsed over 1,000 yards in the XFL season. And an emerging ground game with league standout Morgan Ellison look like a legit playoff contender. The problem, however, is the division they play in. They are staring up at two teams in the North, D.C. (4-0) and STL 3-1, who have head-to-head victories over them.
Notwithstanding that, the Sea Dragons can gain ground on the Defenders or Battlehawks this week because one of those teams is guaranteed to lose in Week 5 because they are playing each other. Seattle’s dilemma is that they need to find a way to beat the league’s best team Houston at home, and they can’t perform as they did against San Antonio and expect a victory against the Roughnecks on Thursday night.
#5: Arlington Renegades (2-2)
The Renegades had the toughest draw of any team in the XFL in Week 4. After all, beating St. Louis in their long-awaited home opener was an almost impossible task.
Arlington played the role of sacrificial lamb this past weekend. To borrow a wrestling term from XFL co-owner Dwayne Johnson. The Renegades did the job on Sunday.
Bob Stoops’s squad talked up a good game and put up a good fight but ran out of steam late in St. Louis. Falling 24-11 to the Hawks.
On a positive note, Kyle Sloter made some nice plays, and Arlington showed some progression in their passing attack. But three interceptions by Sloter in a hostile environment did the Renegades in.
Arlington needs to regroup and rebound quickly. They have two crucial back-to-back divisional games against the San Antonio Brahmas. Starting with a trip to the Alamodome on Sunday night. The Renegades can right the course of their season and lay claim to a spot in the Southern playoffs by taming the Brahmas.
#6: San Antonio Brahmas (1-3)
All is not lost for the San Antonio Brahmas and their season, despite their 1-3 start. But they are going to need to start winning games immediately, or they will fall by the wayside as the midway point of the XFL campaign approaches.
Saturday’s 15-6 loss to Seattle was another hard-fought game by San Antonio. But the Brahmas simply haven’t been able to generate enough big plays on offense to pull through in games. Hines Ward needs to consider making a switch at quarterback. Jack Coan has played relatively mistake-free football, but the lack of a downfield passing attack has clogged up the Brahmas’ ability to run the football.
The move to Reid Sinnett at quarterback should be coming. But will San Antonio pull the trigger too late? They are facing a must-win situation Sunday night at home against Arlington, and the Brahmas can’t afford to fall back any further behind the Renegades.
#7: Vegas Vipers (0-4)
Vegas may have changed their offensive coordinator heading into Week 4. But it didn’t change their fortunes. The Vipers’ run of bad luck continued, as evidenced by them fumbling the game’s opening snap.
Then at the end of the first half against D.C., Luis Perez, who came in the game for a hobbled Brett Hundley, appeared to cross the goal line with seconds left before halftime. But the scoring play was overturned when the replay showed that Perez was down before crossing. And because Vegas was out of timeouts. By rule, the final seconds of the half expired. The Vipers had a chance to tie the game but instead slithered away with nothing. And their head coach Rod Woodson was seething.
It’s been that kind of season for the snake-bitten Vipers. Their venomous follies continued in the second half.
They forced and recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff in the third quarter and yet came away with no points. Then down eight late in the game, Vic Beasley strip-sacked Jordan Ta’amu, but Vegas was unable to scoop up the bouncing football deep inside DC territory. To make matters worse, a recovery wouldn’t have counted anyway, and an illegal contact penalty negated the significant loss created by the sack.
Then in comeback mode late, a wide-open WR, Cinque Sweeting, slipped down the field, causing an easy interception.
The Vipers hung tough for a while with the Defenders at Audi Field. But every time, the game appeared to be swinging in Vegas’s direction. Things would turn on them. And ultimately, the Vipers keep turning on themselves.
Vegas is headed back home to Cashman Field next Saturday night to face another winless team in the Orlando Guardians. One of those two teams will finally taste their first victory. Everything so far about the Vipers season has been bitter up until now.
#8: Orlando Guardians (0-4)
The Guardians have taken so much abuse this season from all directions that even misinformed and petty Canadian football sportscasters have chimed in to rip their poor level of play publicly. Although as a weak and insecure attempt to use them as an example of a league’s overall worth.
Lame takes aside, Marshalling Orlando into the worst spot in the rankings has been a thing since the preseason.
Terrell Buckley’s Guardians squad played Houston much better in Week four than they did to open the season. Even though the final score would tell you otherwise. They lost to the Roughnecks by 21 to start the season and by 28 this past Saturday. However, Wade Phillips threw Orlando a sympathy bone in his post-game press conference by complimenting the Guardians on their improvement.
Even still, the Guardians remain horrible. They can’t pass protect, turn the ball over way too much, and were once again penalized over a dozen times. The team is undisciplined, poorly constructed, and coached. But that’s been Orlando’s theme all season.
All sports leagues have bad teams. It’s the law of averages; someone has to lose games. Unfortunately, the Guardians go beyond being bad; they are in the awful category right now.
Before the season started, I projected the possibility of them going 0-10. They might achieve that shameful honor if they don’t beat dually winless Vegas this coming weekend.
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