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XFL Team Power Rankings Week One: Renegades & Defenders Top List

The NFL season is over, and after an exciting Super Bowl fans have a whole new season of football to look forward to. It’s been a long offseason of roster building for the XFL’s 8 Head Coaches/General Managers, and with the release of the final 52 rosters this past week we’ve got a good sense of where teams are at. Oddsmakers have released their championship predictions, and for these, we’ll use Bovada.com odds.

They have Dallas at +300 to win it all, followed by New York at +400, Tampa Bay at +500, Los Angeles at +550, D.C. at +700, Houston at +750, St. Louis at +800 and Seattle at +1100.

Let’s go ahead and break it down in XFL News Hub’s first official Power Rankings. All season long, I’ll have these coming every Monday night after the weekend action. Keep in mind that initial power rankings are typically based on two factors: each team’s past performance and offseason roster moves, and we only have one to look at here. These are highly preliminary at this point, and we’ll probably see a lot of movers as the season goes on.

1. Dallas Renegades (+300)

There’s a reason why the Renegades have the best odds to win the Championship here. Former Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops was a 10x Division Champ there and won a National Championship in 2000. He’s only 59, and has assembled a staff that includes air raid guru Hal Mumme, former Cowboys sack artist Jim Jeffcoat, and his defensive protege at Oklahoma: Chris Woods.

He’s reunited with former Sooners QB Landry Jones, now an NFL vet. Jones is a prototypical pocket passer with a big arm and a quick release, and he knows the offense well. They’ll likely be looking to former Panther Cameron Artis-Payne as the workhorse back here, and former Cowboy Lance Dunbar has great complementary skills as a 3rd down guy.

They have a fantastic and versatile group of targets in Jeff Badet, Jazz Ferguson, Donald Parham and Sean Price. OL groups are hard to judge at this stage, but they have vets with NFL experience in Alex Balducci (C), Josh Allen (G), Pace Murphy (T), and Willie Beavers (T).

Their defense is looking tight as well, and former Washington star Hau’oli Kikaha is looking like one of the XFL’s premier pass rushers. Keep an eye on LB Reshard Cliett and DL Frank Alexander to hold down the front seven. Their secondary is solid with Micah Abernathy and ballhawk Derron Smith at Safety, and NFL Corners Josh Hawkins and Dashaun Phillips should hold down their end.

I think we’re going to see a high scoring, offense based on passing efficiency here as one of the XFL’s best veteran QB’s mounts an air raid attack. Their defense has the talent, experience and star power to keep the ball on their side, and overall there’s a lot to be excited about here.

2. D.C. Defenders (+700)

For the life of me, I can’t understand how oddsmakers put D.C. at 5th in their rankings. In my mind, they’re neck and neck with the Renegades for that #1 spot. Coach Pep Hamilton is a QB whisperer, and if anyone can ignite the greatness we saw from Cardale Jones at Ohio, it’s Pep. They’ve been killing the game of roster Olympics, and have picked up some great surprise cuts like WR’s Simmie Cobbs Jr and Jalen Rowell as well as former Falcons pass rusher Jonathan Massaquoi.

I like what I’ve seen from Cardale Jones this offseason, and I think he’s primed to make a big splash in the XFL. He’s been showing off the cannon that won him glory with the Buckeyes and should ball out with a stacked group of targets. Rashad Ross could be the XFL’s best receiver, and the speedy vet has a great #2 across from him in former Steeler Eli Rogers. RB Jhurell Pressley had a great showing in the AAF last spring and brings a dynamic threat to their backfield. I’m not too sure about their O-Line depth, however. Tackle De’Ondre Wesley is the only lineman with NFL starting experience, and though every other member of that unit has been through at least a Pre-Season of play, it’s an unproven group.

They have stars all over their defense. Rahim Moore, Matt Elam and Shamarko Thomas have played in 171 NFL games altogether, and are easily the best Safety group in the XFL. I wouldn’t be surprised if they dropped Shamarko in the slot here. They also have former 3rd round pick Jay Bromley at DT, and he logged 80 tackles and 2 sacks with the Giants. Scooby Wright III had a monster Junior year at Arizona with 15 sacks and could rekindle that fire in D.C.

I think the Defenders are going to be electric. With a big armed QB, speed outside and a talented defensive group led by longtime defensive coach Louie Cioffi, they’re the East division’s team to beat. Also, you gotta love the +700 odds.

3. Los Angeles Wildcats (+550)

HC Winston Moss knows what championship teams look like. He served as Mike McCarthy’s assistant HC for 16 years in Green Bay and won a Super Bowl there.

His offense will be led by Norm Chow, and he could be the league’s best QB guru aside from Pep Hamilton. In his day, he’s coached the likes of Steve Young, Phillip Rivers, Carson Palmer, and Jim McMahon. He’s consistently helped his passers along to success and efficiency, and Josh Johnson is next. Johnson is a highly sought-after player in the football world, and the AAF’s first overall pick was being pursued by NFL teams even after signing with the XFL. He has a good football IQ, arm and is still a dual-threat at age 33. He has some size/speed receivers in Tre McBride (6’0″, 4.37) and Saeed Blacknall (6’3″, 4.39). On the line, Storm Norton (T) has some NFL regular-season experience, and Nico Siragusa (G) was a highly touted draft pick before injuries derailed his NFL career.

On defense, their line is going to be a literally massive problem for opponents. They recently reunited with Baylor DL star and internet sensation Shawn Oakman (6’9″ 280), who could be a monstrously disruptive force in the trenches. DT Montori Hughes is an NFL vet who reminds me of Vince Wilfork, and should be a space-eater alongside Oakman, while Devin Taylor (6’8″ 267) brings 94 tackles, 15 sacks and 4 FF with the Detroit Lions on his resume. Wouldn’t wanna block these guys.

I believe in the Norm Chow-Josh Johnson pairing, and this is arguably the best defensive line unit in the league. There’s a lot to like here.

4. New York Guardians (+400)

The Guardians have a really solid group, and this team is a prime dark horse contender. Kevin Gilbride is a longtime NFL Head Coach/OC/QB Coach who has already won 2 Championships in the Big Apple as Eli Manning’s playcaller.

Matt McGloin is a wily vet who played respectably in much less than ideal conditions with the Oakland Raiders. He battled his way onto the field at Penn State before breaking school records there and went from undrafted camp arm to starter in Oakland. He’ll have offseason star Mekale McKay to throw to, and the 6’5″ receiver has been turning heads in camp. Hopefully, they get Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi back from the Reserve/Injured list, as he’d give them a dynamic deep threat. They have a couple of good young backs in Tim Cook II and Darius Victor, but Ian Silberman (C) is their only O-Lineman with starting NFL experience.

I think Linebacker Ben Heeney will be the star of this defense, and though they have some solid pieces on the line, their secondary is young and untested.

I wouldn’t count the Guardians out, and as we see more from some of their younger pieces, this picture will become clearer

They could come out and shock the world, and Marc Trestman would be the guy to do it but I’m tempering expectations here. With some good pieces on offense and a solid D, they have one of the better teams but I’m not ready to put them in the top 3.

5. Houston Roughnecks (+750)

The Roughnecks look like a really balanced roster all around, but much of their fortunes will depend on whether Connor Cook or Phillip Walker starts at QB. The fact that a starter hasn’t been named may have already hurt the team. June Jones is proven running his Run N Shoot system, and this system requires a lot of sync between passers and receivers. If the offense doesn’t know who’s running things, it puts them behind.

When it comes to weapons, Houston has a versatile arsenal. RB’s DeAngelo Henderson and Andre Williams have looked strong thus far, and WR Sammie Coates is a contender to be the XFL’s leading receiver. June Jones didn’t deem it necessary to roster any TE’s, as the Run N Shoot typically runs singleback-4 wide sets.

Their line features T Kevin Palmer, who played 18 games over a few years in Canada, Demetrius Rhaney, an NFL center with 33 games of experience, and Sebastian Tretola, who was a 6th round pick by the Titans and had his career derailed by a gunshot injury to his leg.

On defense, all I gotta say is keep an eye on Kony Ealy. I have no idea why he hasn’t found work in the NFL, and the former 2nd round pick is poised to tear it up in the XFL. With 15 sacks, 26 qb hits, 6 forced fumbles and a Super Bowl record on his resume, he’s the XFL’s gold standard for pass rushing. They have a solid secondary as well, with veteran DB’s Charles James, Marqueston Huff, and Deji Olatoye.

Overall, I think the Roughnecks have a complete roster here and could easily move up, but I’m not high on this QB situation. Cook and Walker both performed well in college years ago, but haven’t done much in the pros and put up mediocre preseason play.

6. Tampa Bay Vipers (+500)

Oddsmakers are really high on the Vipers, and I’ve even seen them leading Over/Under totals at 7.5 (out of 10 games). I feel the urge to pump the brakes. I think their biggest asset is Marc Trestman, and he’s in contention for the XFL’s most lauded coach alongside Bob Stoops. Trestman is a legend in Canada where he’s one 3 Grey Cups. The most recent was in 2017.

It seems like people are buying Aaron Murray, but after a fantastic run at Georgia, he hasn’t proved himself a viable option in the pros thus far. Sure, he got stuck behind Alex Smith in KC, but when he got a starting gig with the Atlanta Legends last spring, he threw only 3 scores and 7 picks. De’Veon Smith and Quinton Flowers are two young bucks in this RB stable to keep an eye on, and Flowers offers value as a passer.

Antonio Callaway would’ve been perhaps the league’s best young talent at receiver, but he’s on IR with a leg injury. The focal point of this offense will likely be Nick Truesdell, and the athletic freak of a TE touts elite tools with a 6’5″ frame and 4.4 speed. He’s an arena ball guy, but if Trestman can get him involved, he could be a game-breaker. Their line is young and unproven, but we’ll have to wait and see before making a call here.

On Defense, LB Terrance Plummer is reunited with Trestman after being a contributor with the Toronto Argonauts during their last Grey Cup run. He can make plays all over the field and is a field general in this defense. They also tout an experienced secondary that includes NFL starters like CB Jalen Collins and Demontre Hurst, and Safety Corey Moore, who have 170 tackles, 18 PD’s and 5 INT’s in the NFL between them.

7. Seattle Dragons (+1100)

I’m not as down on the Dragons as some, but they have a lot to prove. Jim Zorn has experience as a HC and has been a highly valued QB coach for years.

If he can get Brandon Silvers acclimated to his system, I think they could present an efficient offensive attack. Silvers showed out well in the AAF last spring, throwing for 799 yards, 4 TDs, 2 2PTs and 2 INT’s with a 64% completion rate. While competing with Johnny Manziel for playing time with the Memphis Express, he was clearly the better passer.

Zorn typically features Tight Ends in his offense and having a vet like Evan Rodriguez to dump it off to will help the young passer a lot. They have some solid talent across the board on this offense, but nothing that jumps off the page thus far.

Their defensive core is impressive, as they have some good talent in the trenches like Stansley Maponga and former Chicago Bear Will Sutton. They also boast a strong secondary led by veteran corner Steve Williams and Jordan Martin.

I think a lack of name recognition and star power has hurt the Dragons in the odds thus far, and they could do much better than what people are projecting.

8. St. Louis BattleHawks (+800)

For the sake of St. Louis’ scorned football fans, I hope they move up. But at this point, I’m having a hard time riding the high of a Jonathan Hayes the Tight Ends coach from the Marvin Lewis tree, leading a 22 year old QB with only a year and a half starting in the NCAA.

Maybe Jordan Ta’amu will come out and prove me wrong, but I think he needs more time to develop. His lofty stats at Ole Miss were undoubtedly padded by the fact that he was throwing to two elite prospects that went high in the 2019 draft. DK Metcalf (900 yards, 7 TD with the Seahawks) and AJ Brown (1051 yards, 9 TD with the Titans) lit up the NFL this year, and while his WR group has potential, only two have made pro starts (L’Damian Washington-CFL and Keith Mumphery-NFL).

He will have the luxury of a killer running game to lean on, as Christine Michael and Matt Jones will be a dynamic one-two punch, and perhaps are the best RB’s in the league. He’ll also have a solid line led by veterans Brian Folkerts (G) and Matt McCants (T), who’ve played in 28 and 30 NFL games respectively.

The defensive line should be held down by Will Clarke, who’s made 7 sacks in the NFL. They also tout a strong linebacker corps led by Steve Beauarnaise and Terrence Gavin, and an 11-deep secondary. Having this many DB’s will allow them to keep fresh legs in the game as they contend with a 25-second play clock. Kenny Robinson is a huge factor in this secondary, and he’ll be aided by the veteran presences of Will Hill, Harold Jones-Quartey, Dexter McCoil, and Robert Nelson.

They have a strong defense, and if Ta’amu shocks us or they dominate on the ground the BattleHawks could move up in a big way. At this point though, I have more concerns here than anywhere else.

Matt Nagashima is a Sports Writer for XFL News Hub. Born in Denver and raised on the John Elway Super Bowl tapes, he has been following the game since he was a kid. He studied at Colorado State University and graduated with a Degree in History and Creative Writing. Writing about football is his forte, but he's also been published twice in literary journals and continues to build his portfolio

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Jared

    February 5, 2020 at 3:41 am

    I understand why don’t have faith in Jordan Ta’amu but I think (or hope) St Louis proves you wrong because all stl was been waiting for football for a long time now Let’s Go BattleHawks Kaw-kaw

    • Matthew Nagashima

      February 5, 2020 at 10:50 am

      I hope he proves me wrong! I think St. Louis deserves a winning football organization after getting screwed twice by the NFL, but Ta’amu is just 22 and I think there could be growing pains. If Heinicke starts here, I think they could make a big leap.

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