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6 Unique Ways The XFL Will Differ From The NFL

Photo by XFL / CC0 1.0

With the 2020 XFL season scheduled to kick off on February 8, 2020, Vince McMahon’s ultimate resurrection of a sports league is nearly complete. 

We can expect plenty of fireworks and flair in XFL 2.0 given McMahon’s involvement and what we saw with the XFL’s first incarnation in 2001

And since the XFL launch comes just six days after Super Bowl LII, we got to thinking about some differences fans will notice between the NFL and our decidedly more experimental league – the XFL is designed to maximize speed, creative plays, and scoring, all factors that draw spectators to the game. 

Without further ado, here are six uniquely XFL aspects of the game viewers will notice. 

When a forward move is lateral 

The allowance of multiple forward passes behind the line of scrimmage marks a dramatic departure from the NFL’s once-and-done passing rule. In the XFL, players can throw any number of forward passes behind the line of scrimmage. 

Any dropped pass will be considered incomplete and not a fumble. The league hopes this rule will encourage more trick plays and involve creative line-ups, like the backup QB sneaking into a receiver slot. 

The after TD Variety Show 

The XFL is doing away with extra-point kicks in a bid to spice up post-touchdown scoring. Teams will instead have three end zone conversion options, worth up to three points. A two-yard conversion will yield one point, a 5-yard conversion will score two points, and a 10-yard conversion will be worth three points.   

Photo by Airman 1st Class Nicholas Pilch  / CC0 1.0 

Don’t rest for long  

The NFL uses a 40-second play clock so offensive coordinators can radio in calls to the QB. And order a pizza if they so choose. The gap creates an excruciatingly long period between plays that last mere seconds. 

Brevity will reign over work stoppages in the XFL where the play clock is limited to 25 seconds. The up-tempo play starts are likely to lead to no-huddle, pass-heavy offenses, and equally quick-setting defenses.  

It will be interesting to see if the faster-paced game results in a slew of false starts and offsides. 

Props to the sportsbooks 

The outrageous and unpredictable will no doubt play out frequently in the XFL with McMahon at the helm. Expect bookmakers to take advantage of a slew of quirky wagers on the occurrence of an event that has nothing to do with the outcome of the game, aka, prop bets. 

Whereas traditional pro football betting focuses on outcomes like NFL point spreads, totals, and moneylines, the XFL may popularize props in a different way, such as the appearance of robot players and the possibility of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson owning a team. 

Do call it a comeback 

The XFL is also introducing what it calls “The Comeback Period” in an effort to eliminate the leading team’s QB from taking kneel-downs to run out the game clock.  

In McMahon’s league, the clock will stop after every play during the final two minutes of the first and second half. Teams with possession will be forced to run real plays, a twist intended to increase the number of games decided in the final minutes. 

Overtime in the XFL is going to look different from the NFL. The new league will employ an extra-time system closer to soccer where both teams have a chance to score. There are no kickoffs in XFL overtime, the offense takes control of the ball from the five-yard line. 

In a league dedicated to extending the action while eliminating free passes, touchbacks won’t exist in the XFL. Kicking teams must give returners a five-yard neutral space to recover and run the ball. Defenders caught breaching the neutral space will receive a penalty. 

Tap Out the Player, Not the Team 

Perhaps the most ingenious officiating nuance tested by the XFL in spring league play, the “tap penalty” functions as gridiron’s version of the hockey penalty box. 

The rule calls for a penalty to be assessed on individual players instead of entire teams in the case of fouls not considered serious enough to draw a flag. The offending player is sent to sit out the next play while a substitute fills in. 

Simply put, the tap penalty is the panacea to the NFL’s increasingly egregious use of borderline penalty calls. 

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