For those of us who have been following this league closely from day one. The level of excitement is growing by the second. The XFL 2020 Season has officially arrived. The games start this weekend.
The DC Defenders kick off the season at home against the Seattle Dragons Saturday, 2p ET on ABC. The second half of Saturday’s big network doubleheader sees The Houston Roughnecks host the Los Angeles Wildcats, 5 pm ET on Fox.
Sunday’s doubleheader has The Tampa Bay Vipers traveling to MetLife Stadium to play The New York Guardians, 2 pm ET on Fox. Week one is capped off on ESPN, when Bob Stoops makes his pro football coaching debut, as the Dallas Renegades host the St. Louis BattleHawks at Globe Life Park, 5 pm ET on ESPN.
Part of the fun with the XFL is that it’s an entirely brand new league. Eight brand new pro football teams making their debuts. The exciting part is the unknown. The oddsmakers have picked their favorites. Fantasy sites and fantasy players are projecting who the league’s best players will be. Still, until the games happen, we won’t know for sure what the XFL or its teams will be like.
It won’t stop me from doing something foolish. It started with my fantasy football rankings on the first day of the year. Now it’s time to make season predictions. I have gone through every single team’s roster and coaching staff. I have dissected every team’s schedule. Four out of the eight XFL teams will make the playoffs. Two from each division. A Ten-week season and a two-week playoff.
So here goes. I am taking a leap of faith. Hopefully, football fans will do the same thing this weekend. Here’s hoping that the league ages well because my predictions probably won’t.
XFL EAST STANDINGS
NEW YORK GUARDIANS: 6-4*
DC DEFENDERS: 5-5*
TAMPA BAY VIPERS: 4-6
ST. LOUIS BATTLEHAWKS: 4-6
The XFL not only has a comeback period set up in their game rules, but it’s also reflected in their schedule making as well. The final three weeks of the regular season are all divisional matchups.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that a 2-5 team can run the table in weeks eight, nine and ten, and make the playoffs. On the flip side, a 5-2 team can fall out of the mix by losing their final three games. The eastern team that goes 2-1 or 3-0 during this stretch will make the playoffs. I see the East as being undecided going into the final three weeks of the season.
So why New York and DC?… I am going to base it on balance and coaching experience. Both teams are designed to be effective running and passing teams. New York and DC have proven play-callers, good quarterbacks, deep backfields, and excellent receivers.
New York has a dependable coaching staff with a championship pedigree. The majority of the staff has coached together in the NFL and won. On the defensive side of the ball, the Guardians have significant run stuffers up front, a versatile group of sideline to sideline linebackers, and perhaps the league’s best overall secondary.
A team labeled the Defenders might have some struggles on the defensive side of the ball. Losing Defensive Coordinator Jeffrey Fitzgerald this late in the process doesn’t help. DC’s offense should be good enough to balance the team out.
St.Louis is starting a rookie pro Quarterback in Jordan Ta’amu, and they might have some early season woes as a result. Coupled with the fact that they just changed their offensive coordinator. If Ta’amu breaks out and surpasses expectations. The BattleHawks can be championship contenders.
Tampa has a ton of talent upfront. Still, I am skeptical about their skill player talent at RB and WR, and I have never been a big believer in Aaron Murray. The loss of Antonio Callaway hurts. The Vipers lack dynamic playmakers.
In these projections, All four of the teams are separated by only two games in the standings. I see a lot of parity in the East. Any one of these teams can win the division.
XFL WEST STANDINGS
DALLAS RENEGADES: 8-2*
HOUSTON ROUGHNECKS: 6-4*
LA WILDCATS: 4-6
SEATTLE DRAGONS: 3-7
Top to bottom. Dallas has the best roster in the league. Daryl ‘Moose’ Johnston, along with Bob Stoops and the Renegades staff have done a tremendous job putting together their team. The team is loaded and balanced on all three phases. I am betting on Stoops, Hal Mumme, and this staff.
The focus will be on Houston’s talented quarterback duo in Phillip Walker, Connor Cook, and June Jones passing offense. Houston also has a solid offensive line and some really good backs in Andre Williams, DeAngelo Henderson and James Butler. On defense, Houston is very balanced. The Roughnecks have a very skilled and experienced defense on all three levels.
Los Angeles and Seattle have demanding travel schedules. In this division, LA’s secondary worries me. The Wildcats secondary is mostly unproven and will not match up well against some of the elite passing attacks in the entire league.
Josh Johnson will keep the Wildcats in every game, but I don’t know if LA has enough talent overall to make a run. They start the season at Houston, home versus Dallas and then home versus DC. If LA gets off to a good start in this stretch against three of the league’s better teams. Then perhaps they will contend. It’s hard betting against Winston Moss and Pepper Johnson, but LA strikes me as a team that will lose a lot of close games during the season.
The Dragons have an unproven defense and arguably the weakest receiving corps in the league by comparison. Brandon Silvers was one of the better quarterbacks in the AAF, and he has a very talented backfield to work with. One of the league’s best groups, but the other areas of the team, are question marks.
DC DEFENDERS OVER THE NEW YORK GUARDIANS IN THE LEAGUE”S FIRST EVER OVERTIME GAME 38-36
– OT finally happens, and The Defenders steal one at MetLife. This will be DC’s second trip to MetLife in three weeks. Both teams play one another in week nine.
DALLAS RENEGADES OVER THE HOUSTON ROUGHNECKS 35-33
– Just like the eastern final. Dallas will avenge a week nine loss at Houston by winning the west at home. On the final play of the game, June Jones goes for three and the win, but the Roughnecks are unable to convert.
XFL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
DC DEFENDERS 32 DALLAS RENEGADES 29
– The Defenders upset the favored Dallas Renegades on a late Tyler Rausa field goal. PFT Commenter watches from the sideline. Cardale Jones is named the XFL Championship Game MVP.
XFL COACH OF THE YEAR: BOB STOOPS
XFL MVP: LANDRY JONES
XFL OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: SAMMIE COATES
XFL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: HAU’LOI KIKAHA
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