A Tale of 2 Cities in 2 Weeks

by Bee Jay Glosson

Lets flash back to 2 weeks ago when the DC Defenders were undefeated coming off of the league’s first shutout. DC was in the 1 or 2 slot of everyone’s power rankings, riding high and feeling good, looking at the first road game against a winless wildcats team in L.A.. Undefeated vs winless means great things right? No, not at all. The wildcats showed up and smacked the Defenders right in the mouth and then kicked them in the ribs while they were down.

In a game that Cardale Jones throws 4 INTs and a punt gets fumbled; we saw an offense, that in weeks 1 and 2 were good enough to keep any team in a game, completely crumble and any hope of winning the game flew right out the door. L.A. would go on to blow the doors off of the Defenders in a 39-9 rout.

Its ok, just get up and dust yourself off because the winless Tampa Bay Vipers are up next and there is no way that the Defenders could lose to a winless team 2 weeks in a row, right? Well, they would indeed give a winless team their first win for a second straight week. Where the Wildcats lived off of the INT the week before, the Vipers would live off of completely shutting down the Defenders offense on every level.

With only 107 total yards in the entire game, the Defenders found a way to look even worse than they did the week before. With only 30% efficiency on 3rd down, and a complete lack of offensive ability, the Defenders who completed the first shutout in league history just 2 weeks earlier would indeed be the victim of another as they would fall to the Vipers 25-0.

Cardale Jones could be heard completely throwing his wide receiver under the bus saying “that 1 needed to be benched because he didn’t show up to play today.” In a clip that was reminiscent of Matt Mcgloin’s tirade where he stated that it was the game plans fault they were losing instead of shouldering the blame himself, Cardale pushed all the blame off on everyone else instead.

For a Defenders team that looked so great in weeks 1 and 2, weeks 3 and 4 were clearly a different tale. However, there is no time to waste on preparations though as the high flying Battlehawks come into D.C. for week 5 as they are riding a 2 game winning streak.

If the Defenders are to have any chance in this game they need to find a way to play like they did in the first couple weeks of the season. They need the defense to make stops and the offense to not give the ball over on the short field. 

Not as easy as it sounds in a league where there are no off weeks and every team is a threat. Even the winless ones like the Defenders found out the hard way. Fans shouldn’t give up on the team though as there is still 6 more weeks of football and anything can happen. The Defenders are still the number 2 seed in the east and with the toughest stretch coming up they really need to get back to their roots of defense first.

I believe Pep can find a way to get this team going, but if Jones continues to not get the offense moving then I expect to see a QB change in the near future. Jones has 6 INTs on the year and that is only 1 behind the league leader Landry Jones.  Shields up Defenders fans, stay loud and proud because your team needs you this week to try and stop this skid and start a winning streak again.

Deep Routes: Model-o-Rama

by Anthony Reinhard

We’ve arrived at Week 4 in the XFL season and we are starting to get a feel for how the rest of the year will shake out. In an effort to better acquaint myself with the strength of each team, I took a look at some new rating systems. Each rating system has the same basic output: the difference between the ratings for each team is equivalent to the point spread on a neutral field with an average rating of zero. Home field advantage is worth 2.6 points unless otherwise noted.

I’ll begin with my classic elo ratings that can be found at statbutler.com/xfl. These ratings are using the same parameters as the NFL elo model on FiveThirtyEight.com. Under an elo system, teams always improve their rating with a win and see a rating drop with a loss. The winning team’s rating will go up in the same amount that the losing team will go down. An underdog that wins will have a more significant rating gain than a favorite. This method also allows for a point spread adjustment so that teams that win by more are rewarded. The point spread adjustment is not linear, so a winning by 28 is not twice as valuable as winning by 14.

My XFL version of elo started with ratings that aligned with pre-season championship futures. I converted futures odds into implied probabilities and, through trial and error, arrived at pre-season ratings that produced championship probabilities that were in line with the consensus in Vegas. My thinking at the time was that this would help the model gain credibility faster, but I may have overestimated the ability of oddsmakers to evaluate teams that have never played before. This is particularly clear with a team like New York, who entered the season as the fourth best team and promptly beat the second ranked Tampa Bay Vipers by 20. New York took the top spot on the strength of a solid win against what the model thought was a good team. Tampa Bay would go on to drop their next two, and New York has been dominated by a margin of 56 to 9 in their last two games. Some models would react more quickly to New York’s blowout loss to DC in Week 2, but this version of elo doesn’t move too aggressively and can take longer to pick up on this sort of new information. You’ll also notice that Dallas (pre-season #1) is still ranked ahead of undefeated Houston and Seattle (pre-season #8) is ranked below winless Tampa Bay. These could also be examples of the model acting too slowly.

One solution to remedy the problem of questionable pre-season rankings is to start each team with a rating of zero in Week 1. With this method, we can see the rankings looking closer to what we might have expected. However, you’ll notice that the gap between the best and worst team is still pretty narrow as Tampa would be less than a five-point underdog if they were to play Houston on a neutral site. As I mentioned, elo has a tendency to move slowly. So what if we doubled the K-factor, which will push the model to react more toward recent events?

This comes out closer to what the Vegas spreads are for this week, but as the season goes on, these ratings might change too frequently. An illustration of this is LA passing DC after only one game. While LA did beat DC by 30, we’re putting an awful lot of stock in one game when we have a pair of other games for each team that suggests this was, in fact, an upset.

The simple rating system doesn’t put any emphasis on the most recent game. It weights all games evenly, but is heavily biased by point spread and strength of schedule. St. Louis had games against two of the top three teams and also has a point differential of +22, second best in the league. It isn’t unreasonable they would be the top team, but it is doubtful that they would be favored over Tampa Bay by more than 21 points on a neutral field. You can read more about SRS in this post on Pro Football Reference.

*Home Field Advantage = 1.5 points

The final set of rankings is by far the most comprehensive. I created these ratings using only the point spread from each of the 16 games this season and nothing else. The idea is that Vegas can pick up on all meaningful information that exists in the public domain and a simple linear model can easily show this. The downside is that a model created this way is opaque and it can be difficult to tell how the ratings will change on a weekly basis. This makes them dangerous for season-long forecasts, but would be my ideal power rankings for this week’s games. You can read more about this kind of model in this very very old post on inpredictable.com.

Football For All: XFL Week 3 – Heating up at the Right Time

The third week of XFL action cranked up the offense and the electric atmosphere the league is looking for! Zach had plenty to discuss including his experience at the St. Louis Battlehawks home-opener, the party-crashing explosiveness from the LA Wildcats that no one saw coming, and much more including his Week 4 picks!

Follow Zach on Twitter at @ZKPodcast and check out his other podcasts on https://zkeilman.podbean.com/

SEC Junction XFL: Rivalry Ruckus – Anthony Miller & Crissy Froyd talk XFL Texas Rivalry

This episode of ”Rivalry Ruckus’ podcast focuses on the upcoming big game between the Dallas Renegades and the Houston Roughnecks at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.

On the podcast, MJ Cropper ”The Swamp Dane” welcomes Anthony Miller from XFLboard.com and Crissy Froyd of USA Today SMG LSU Tiger Wire discuss the brewing rivalry between the city’s two newest football teams, the prospects of the two to face each other in the divisional playoffs, and the early performance and game-advantages of the two heading into the week 4 competition.

This is the SEC Junction XFL podcast bringing the passionate fans of the SEC to the XFL.  Follow us on twitter @theswampdane and find us on www.facebook.com by searching the ”SEC Junction XFL” page.

SixPackBass: XFL Week 3 Recap – It was WILD!!! (UPSET ALERT)

XFL Week 3 is now behind us. Looking back this was an Insanely WILD week of XFL football! Lots action and lots of head scratchers in this one. Tune in to see what all the commotion is about.

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SEC Junction XFL – USA Today SMG Editor Crissy Froyd

On this episode, staff writer at Titans Wire and head editor at LSU Wire, Crissy Froyd joins us to today to share with us her career paths and her interest in covering quarterbacks and the new professional league, the XFL.

This is the SEC Junction XFL podcast bringing the passionate fans of the SEC to the XFL.  Follow us on twitter @theswampdane and find us on www.facebook.com by searching the ”SEC Junction XFL” page.

Defenders Week 2 Wrap Up and Look Forward

by Bee Jay Glosson

Week 2 was the battle of the undefeated, DC vs NY and Houston vs St. Louis. The Defenders certainly didn’t disappoint in their game, unfortunately their opponent did. DC absolutely embarrassed the Guardians, or was that Matt McGloin’s interview at the half? I’m getting ahead of myself, lets see what happened to get us here. 

Well, how about this stat line, 8 of 19 for 44 yards, 0 TDs and 2 INT. Yeah, that was Guardians QB, Matt McGloin’s, day and at the half.

With the XFL’s on the field interviews we got a nugget of true golden proportions from the QB himself. When asked what the team needed to do to turn things around in the second half, McGloin offered his insight “We need to change the whole entire gameplan at halftime. Its embarrassing as an offense.”

It was embarrassing, except it was more than just the gameplan.

McGloin couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat at the bottom of the ocean. He blamed the gameplan instead of himself. He had 32 yards passing at the half. The game for the Guardians didn’t fair much better than McGloin’s stat line though as the Defenders would go on to post the first shutout in XFL history in its inaugural season.

Enough about the Guardians and their problems. Lets talk about the undefeated Defenders and how their QB, Cardale “12 Gauge” Jones, leads the league in passing yards and has found a way to guide the Defenders to a 2-0 start. Throwing for 2 TDs and 276 yards, Jones has lead the Defenders to the top of the power rankings in the XFL.

It’s not just Jones that has the Defenders doing so great, the defense has been playing lights out all year. With a pick-6 in both of their first 2 games, along with blocked punts and all around great defensive plays, the Defenders are only allowing an average of 9 points a game after giving the Guardians a goose egg to ride home with in week 2.

Riding a 2-0 attitude and heading to L.A. for the first road test of the season, the Defenders will face the winless Wildcats. L.A. looks to go for the upset and send D.C. home with their first L of the season.

Is that going to happen? Probably not. But this is a “Revenge” game of sorts as former Wildcats defensive captain Anthony Johnson and WR Rashad Ross who face off against their former team as they try to help the Defenders go to 3-0.

Around the league we saw the Houston Roughnecks continue their undefeated season as P.J. Walker maintains his M.V.P. campaign with 3 TD performance to lead his team past the Battlehawks. Pushing his total TD’s to 7 which matches or beats every team in the XFL. He is literally a 1 man wrecking crew.

The Dragons secured the largest XFL crowd this year as more than 28k fans packed Century Link field in Seattle to watch the Dragons dismantle the Vipers to move to 1-1 as the Vipers slip to 0-2 on their season.

Last, but not least, the Dallas Renegades got their franchise QB, Landry Jones, back for their second game and we saw the Renegades hand the Wildcats their second loss of the season. With the win Landry Jones becomes the first XFL QB to pass for over 300 yards in a game this season.

Every team will have played at least one road game after week 3 so I think we will start to see true power rankings as it wont be just home results getting calculated for some of the teams at the top. As always Defenders fans, be loud and be proud, shields up as your Defenders continue to put the best product on the football field for you to watch.

SixPackBass: Week 3 – Rankings and Predictions

XFL Week 3 Predictions
Can you believe it’s already WEEK 3 in the XFL?!?! Tune in to see who Harley believes will get the “W” this week.

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Football for All: XFL Week 2 – The Optimistic Road Ahead

The second week of the XFL kicked off with rocky play followed by some excellent finishes. Zach brings up topics ranging from different styles of reporting on the league to the TV Ratings and LA market.

XFL Fan Zone’s very own David Taylor joins the discussion discussing the positive signs out of Seattle from their home opener as well as what broadcast partners should do with the on-field player interviews.

The two also make their Week 3 picks!

Follow Zach on Twitter at @ZKPodcast and check out his other podcasts on https://zkeilman.podbean.com/