Week five in the XFL is behind us, which means that week six is right around the corner. It was an entertaining weekend of football, as trends which were set early in the season continued to make themselves evident. This time around, XFL Power Rankings are pretty concise, especially compared to previous weeks.
The North and South Divisions are polar opposite of each other right now. The North features some of the XFL’s best teams, dominating the first half of the season. Meanwhile, the South is quite weak, with even Houston looking a bit vulnerable now.
Let’s take a look at where each team stands heading into week six, and what has to change for each team to improve.
The Orlando Guardians have set a modern spring football record. For the first time in recent memory, a spring football team began their season 0-5, as Orlando has failed to execute week in and week out. This team needs an overhaul, unable to get the job done on both ends of the ball. Now, the Guardians did discover a bit of hope this past weekend.
One of my favorite @XFL2023 stories from this past weekend: Quinten Dormady.
Despite such strange circumstances – and a controversial few weeks – @qdormady came back and posted 256 yards, alongside two TD's on 22/25 passing. Impressive stuff. #XFLpic.twitter.com/6wqhkf9i4p
After a wild situation which resulted in Quinten Dormady being cut from the team in week two, he was reinstated to the organization. Dormady came in and played excellent football, throwing for over 250 yards and two touchdowns. He will be the starting QB moving forward, so we’ll see if he can will the Guardians to their first win of the year against Seattle.
Hines Ward desperately needs a spark on offense. The Brahmas have been helpless, hardly moving the football at all over the past few weeks. They also just got some terrible news: Reid Sinnett is out for the rest of the season with a broken foot. He played respectively well before getting injured against Arlington, and now SA is down a QB.
Helluva Defensive call from @XFLBrahmas and Jack Koerner doing the “Safety creep up” from 12-15 yards out is a thing of beauty. Great game from the Dome! Our Brahmas (coaches & players) are talented, but still finding their groove. @XFL2023#XFL#Week5 🏈 https://t.co/B0CirKj6QC
Jack Coan has simply not produced like we thought he would in the XFL. Despite the Brahmas’ impressive defensive efforts, this team cannot find a way to win football games. San Antonio has held their opponents to few points in consecutive weeks, but their offense always finds a way to be worse. The Brahmas have to find stability as soon as possible, otherwise they can kiss this season goodbye.
#6: Vegas Vipers (1-4)
The Vegas Vipers picked up their first win of the XFL season on Saturday night, against the winless Guardians. Vegas jumps San Antonio, purely because they’ve been playing better football as of late. While the defense needs some work (I mean…32 points to Orlando? Really?) – the Vipers found a way to get the job done.
Luis Perez has been an exceptional leader for this group. He’s playing solid football, and put on a show against Orlando, throwing for over 260 yards and three touchdowns. Despite being benched for Brett Hundley mid-season, Perez never lost a step, and will now look to make a late playoff push with the Vipers. On a side note, Jeff Badet is absolutely unreal. He is probably the most underrated wide receiver in the XFL.
To be quite frank, it’s crazy that Arlington is the second seed in the South. This team has played sloppy football from top to bottom – but boasts a defense that’s good enough to sneak away with some wins. Jay Hayes’ unit has been outstanding, generating turnovers and making clutch plays to win ball games.
Kyle Sloter and Drew Plitt have been very mediocre as passers. This isn’t entirely their fault, as Arlington’s offense is lackluster across the board. It’s been the same story every week: very little production from the ground game, which results in poor decisions from Sloter, who made a couple terrible throws on Sunday night. With San Antonio on deck next week, we’ll have to see if Bob Stoops can make some adjustments to get this offense back on track.
The Battlehawks are at a crossroads. While they are certainly one of the XFL’s stronger teams, they can’t seem to get over the hump of better organizations; specifically, the DC Defenders. St. Louis has a tough time scoring, very rarely coming alive unless it’s the fourth quarter. They are, without a doubt, a fun team who is capable of coming back against anyone.
Oh my gosh, what an absolute DIME from AJ McCarron to Steven Mitchell. This one was a beauty.
However, if the Battlehawks want to compete for a Championship, they have to avoid falling into the holes that they do. DC controlled the game entirely, especially large portions of the second half. A late interception from AJ McCarron was a tough pill to swallow, as he uncharacteristically threw a wobbler right to Michael Joseph. Moving forward, Anthony Becht has to get this team to play complete football for sixty minutes.
How about those Sea Dragons? Seattle just took down the undefeated Houston Roughnecks, defeating the franchise for the first time in XFL history. Ron Zook’s defense is playing excellent football, dominating up front and causing chaos in the secondary. If Seattle can continue to shut down opposing offenses, this team will be in great shape heading towards the postseason.
One glaring issue: Ben DiNucci and his turnovers. DiNucci was single handedly trying to keep Houston in the game, throwing multiple interceptions that gave the Roughnecks life. Now, he did play a phenomenal first half, and has showcased that he is one of the XFL’s best quarterbacks. As the season continues, Ben simply has to trust the process, and not try to force things when nothing is there.
For the first time this season, the Roughnecks looked vulnerable. One has to wonder if the team’s overachievement during the first few weeks was simply a result of playing weak South Division opponents. Now, Houston doesn’t have to panic quite yet. They still have a strong hold of the South, and have played solid football for the majority of the season so far.
There are some issues, though. Jontre Kirklin is now out for the rest of the year, with a chest injury. This is not good news for the Roughnecks offense, one that struggled mightily against Seattle. Brandon Silvers was out of sync all game long, as AJ Smith couldn’t throw his quarterback into a rhythm. With a hungry DC team up next, Silvers might just be tested again as he faces an elite Defenders defense.
Reggie Barlow and his DC Defenders are cruising. This offense has found its identity, which is why they have been so successful. As opposed to other teams in the league, DC knows what they do well, and they stick to it. Between the tandem of Jordan Ta’amu and D’Eriq King, alongside the grit of Abram Smith, this unit is nearly unstoppable. The Defenders have put on a clinic five weeks in a row, consistently executing what they’re supposed to.
This is exactly why Abram Smith was picked #1 overall in the @XFL2023 draft. @abramsmith_28 rips off a 62 yard TD run – the longest of the #XFL season – to put DC in front 8-3. He's has been sensational this year, & adds another highlight to his reel.pic.twitter.com/MF56Bqna6N
Defensively, DC is dominating in every phase. They have so many playmakers who contribute valuable minutes, finding ways to generate big plays and stops week in and week out. Gregg Williams should be proud of his defense, as they continue to show up whenever they are called upon. Michael Joseph is certainly making his case for DPOY. Right now, there is no doubt about it: The DC Defenders are the best team in the XFL.
It’s an exciting time to be a fan of the XFL. We’re halfway through the season – and, this time, we’re going to get to the finish line. It will be exciting to see which trends continue in week six and beyond, while also watching the shake ups unfold along the way.