The XFL news cycle is slowly but surely heating up! Zach brings you the latest on signings and tryouts for former XFL players jumping to the NFL including former Houston Roughnecks WR Cam Phillips! He also gives his thoughts on the early returns from new XFL ownership and when they should begin play.
Bombshell news about the Big Ten and PAC-12 postponing their fall football season has rippled across the football landscape. On this edition of Gridiron Gallery, Zach and Tony dive into the fan reaction of a fall with no Big Ten football presence, the viability of colleges playing in the spring, and the likelihood of the XFL taking advantage of the situation.
Zach returns with what can only leave an ecstatic smile on the faces of XFL fans everywhere! the league was purchased and revived once more! In this episode, Zach dives into what could be in store for the newly named XFL ownership of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dany Garcia, and Redbird Capital. He also discusses what would be needed for a potential 2021 season and discusses which of the 8 original teams may return or change in the short-term for the restart of the league.
The XFL is the latest sports entity to be majorly impacted by the coronavirus. This weekend’s game featuring the Seattle Dragons and Houston Roughnecks will be played as scheduled, with one exception. No fans will be in attendance. Due to public safety concerns, governor Jay Inslee has declared a ban on all social gatherings of over 250 people. The ban includes all pre-game tailgate activities. The game will go on as scheduled, but Seattle and Houston will play in front of an empty stadium on Sunday evening. The fan-ban is a significant turn of events for Seattle and its fans, as the Dragons are averaging the second-highest attendance numbers in the XFL. The Dragons play back to back home games over the next two weeks. CenturyLink Field, home of the Dragons, released this statement:
The XFL released this statement today:
On a positive note, the Seattle Dragons released a statement as well, offering single-game ticket refunds to fans.
One of the most interesting details inside the refund memo was the option for fans to apply the refund to a credit for the 2021 season. This is a positive sign, as it implies the XFL is planning on a season two. The confidence the XFL has in its product is high.
Other XFL host cities, such as DC and New York, are in the process of making similar decisions, though those decisions have not yet to be finalized. Both the Defenders and Guardians have home games in week six. Houston has also canceled all city-related events, leading to speculation that the next Roughnecks home game will be played in front of an empty stadium as well. Houston returns home in week seven. In a statement from Roughnecks Team president Brian Michael Cooper had this to say, “As of now, our next game will take place as planned. We understand this situation is evolving, and the league is monitoring all developments daily.”
We have reached the midway point of the XFL inaugural season. XFL Week 5 highlights are here! Tune in to see all of the action from week 5 of the XFL. The push for the playoffs is well under way. With just 5 weeks left, who will make the playoffs?
The halfway point has arrived! Teams like Houston and St. Louis are beginning to separate from the rest of the league. Will anyone be able to run them down? Here is a look at week five, along with staff picks.
Seattle Dragons (1-3) at Houston Roughnecks (4-0)
Seattle got a new lease on the season with the impressive debut of BJ Daniels. Daniels will need to give a superheroic performance on Saturday to keep pace with the high powered Houston offense. The Roughnecks average over 31 points per game, while the Dragons have yet to score 20 in a game this year.
Pick: Roughnecks 27, Dragons 19
New York Guardians (2-2) at Dallas Renegades (2-2)
New York hasn’t won an away game, and Dallas hasn’t won a home game. Something’s got to give. Home teams are 11-4 on the season so far, but there are mitigating factors in this one. Dallas lost starting quarterback Landry Jones for this game, as Jones injured his knee in last week’s loss to Houston. New York will go with Luis Perez at the helm once more. Perez led the Guardians to a 17-14 victory last weekend. Perez seemed to be able to get the New York offense moving the previous weekend. That continuity gives New York a slight edge.
Prediction: Guardians 19, Renegades 15
St. Louis BattleHawks (3-1) at DC Defenders (2-2)
DC gets to return home this weekend after two brutal road losses. The Defenders are a different team at home than on the road. DC averages 29 points per game at home and only 4.5 points per game on the road. Depending on which Defenders team shows up, this game could be quite compelling. St. Louis is quickly becoming a complete team. The BattleHawks do everything well but are especially adept at special teams and defense. With St. Louis only allowing 15.5 points per game, week five will be tough for DC.
Prediction: BattleHawks 22, Defenders 17
Tampa Bay Vipers (1-3) at LA Wildcats (1-3)
Teams that travel cross-country are 0-4 so far this season. Tampa has a chance to buck that trend today due to the running game the Vipers have established. Tampa had two 100 yard rushers in last week’s win. Los Angeles will need to force Tampa to become a passing team to slow down the rushing attack. Stopping the run is a tall order for LA, as the Wildcats are last in the XFL in rushing defense. Los Angeles gives up 131.5 yards per game on the ground.
We are almost to the midway point of the inaugural XFL season. SixPackBass is bringing you his XFL Week 5 Predictions in this one. The playoff picture is starting to take shape. Tune in to see who he has taking the W in Week 5 of the XFL.
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.
Week four is here, highlighted by the Texas Throwdown! Dallas and Houston meet for the first time this season in what is sure to be a barn burner! St. Louis gets to be in the dome again this week, looking to put out the Dragons’ flames, while DC travels to Tampa, trying to avoid getting snakebit. New York gets to return home after two brutal beatings, only to face a rejuvenated Wildcats team. Here are a preview and some score predictions, followed by staff picks.
Guardians @ Wildcats Time: 2 pm TV: ABC
The Wildcats come into this game off of a dominant performance against DC. LA will be without top wide receiver Nelson Spruce, however, so temper expectations. Traveling across the country may also be a factor. Visiting teams are 4-8 on the season.
The Guardians will be without starting quarterback Matt McGloin this week, reducing the quarterback carousel to two in New York. The Guardians are a different team at home but have only scored nine points in the last two games. New York needs to find an offensive identity to be able to pull this one off. The Guardians have had some success with the run game this year as running back Tim Cook is averaging 4.3 yards per rush.
Prediction: Wildcats 23, Guardians 15
Dragons @ BattleHawks Time: 5 pm TV: FOX
Seattle’s defense will need to do something big today to change the outcome in this one. St. Louis is a ten-point favorite to win. The Dragons will have to commit to stopping the run and force St. Louis to pass to pull off a victory. The BattleHawks are averaging less than 200 yards passing per game.
For the BattleHawks to win, special teams will play a role. Former Baltimore Brigade star Joe Powell scored the first kick return last weekend. St. Louis also blocked a punt last week. Seattle has struggled with special teams at times, so expect a BattleHawk score on special teams this week.
The game of the weekend! The Texas Throwdown makes its season debut. Dallas and Houston are two of the hottest teams in the XFL right now, so expect this game to live up to the hype. Dallas has a balanced attack of both run and pass, and Houston is showcasing two league MVP candidates in PJ Walker and Cam Phillips. The deciding factor in this game will be Houston’s defense. The Roughnecks have given up an increasing amount of points each week. Pair that with the fact that the Renegades are starting to gel offensively. This game will likely be the highest-scoring game of the XFL season so far.
Prediction: Renegades 39, Roughnecks 36
Defenders @ Vipers Time 7 pm (Sunday) TV: ESPN 2
Tampa Bay looked much improved last weekend, despite losing to Houston. The Vipers put up 27 points, by far the highest output total of the season. DC, on the other hand, was stifled last weekend. Quarterback Cardale Jones will need to return to form this week. Jones threw four interceptions against LA. Look for last week’s debacle to be a wake-up call for the Defenders. DC gets back on track with a win in Tampa.
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.
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.