We’re now halfway through the revived XFL’s inaugural season, and while at least one team continues to separate itself from the rest of the pack, the majority of the league remains something of a crap shoot as we draw closer to the playoff picture.
As we approach Week 6, here are five key numbers to know — five stats that help paint the picture of the season as it stands (and be sure to check out all the individual stats leaders through Week 5, plus our XFL Midseason Awards):
Number of TD passes by Cardale Jones since Week 3
DC Defenders coach Pep Hamilton says he planned to bench Jones during the team’s Week 5 win over St. Louis, but even if you believe that, what does it say about the club’s quarterback situation? Look, backup Tyree Jackson did a decent enough job against a tough BattleHawks unit on Sunday, but with Jones set to return to the starting spot, Hamilton’s offense is going to need some high-level creativity if No. 12 keeps playing the way he has. Not only has the ex-Buffalo Bills project been held out of the end zone since DC’s 2-0 start, but he’s also thrown six picks, averaging a weekly QB rating of — gulp — 17.6. He’s got to be smarter upon return.
Consecutive one-score wins by the Houston Roughnecks
This could be either an endorsement or an indictment of Houston, depending on where you stand. Actually, it can’t really be an indictment, because wins are wins, and with consensus MVP favorite P.J. Walker under center and June Jones dialing up a pass-heavy attack to the tune of a 5-0 start, there’s a lot to like about the Roughnecks. It should be noted, however, that they’re not exactly beating opponents into the ground every week, as Walker’s headlining play might suggest. Their games have been close, and if not for some of Walker’s heroic athleticism, they could easily be 3-2 right now. Just something to be mindful of.
Projected number of TD catches for Cam Phillips in a 16-game season
This one’s just for fun (what would Phillips’ numbers look like over the length of an NFL regular season?), but it also speaks volumes about Houston’s offense. Walker isn’t the only guy making the Roughnecks look good, and many pundits have already thrown out the idea of P.J. and Phillips returning to the NFL as a sort of tag team. The Virginia Tech product has been sensationally productive through the first five weeks of action, slipping up only against Dallas in Week 4, and should be feared on a weekly basis.
Average points per game by the Tampa Bay Vipers since Week 3
If wins are wins, then losses are losses, and the Vipers have four of them through five weeks. So if you think any serious praise for Tampa is irrelevant, so be it. But there’s just no denying that Marc Trestman’s squad is among the best-scoring teams in the league ever since Trestman himself gave play-calling duties to coordinator Jaime Elizondo. We’ve beaten this point into the ground here at CBS Sports as of late, but that’s only because it’s true: Tampa’s 28.6 points per game over the last three weeks would rank second among all XFL teams this year, behind only the Roughnecks. Don’t take them lightly, even at 1-4.
QB rating by Josh Johnson since Week 3
Don’t look now, but Walker might actually have some competition for MVP honors by season’s end, at least if recent trends continue. Johnson may have made more headlines Sunday night for his mic’d-up berating of his own coaches, but the longtime NFL backup has also been ridiculously good on the field for the last three weeks. A slow start (interception, fumble) threatened to derail his momentum in Week 5, but then came deep ball after deep ball to lead the Los Angeles Wildcats back from down 20-6 to eclipse 40 points. Since Week 3, he’s fired nine TDs compared to just two picks and threatened to overtake Walker as the XFL’s passing yards leader.