Here’s a look at how all the teams stack up in both divisions as regular season ends

The rebooted USFL’s regular season has reached the end, and if you’re wondering what the standings look like and how the playoffs work, you’ve come to the right place. Each USFL team played 10 regular-season games — all of them in Birmingham, Alabama — with the top two from each division moving on to the playoffs. The North Division and South Division title games will be at 3 and 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 25 in Canton, Ohio. The USFL championship game will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 3 in Canton.

We’ve got the final regular season standings below, and don’t miss all of CBS Sports’ USFL coverage. We’ve got a detailed USFL viewer’s guide with the complete season schedule, as well as weekly power rankings, game predictions, rosters for every team and much more.The rebooted USFL’s regular season has reached the end, and if you’re wondering what the standings look like and how the playoffs work, you’ve come to the right place. Each USFL team played 10 regular-season games — all of them in Birmingham, Alabama — with the top two from each division moving on to the playoffs. The North Division and South Division title games will be at 3 and 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 25 in Canton, Ohio. The USFL championship game will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 3 in Canton.

We’ve got the final regular season standings below, and don’t miss all of CBS Sports’ USFL coverage. We’ve got a detailed USFL viewer’s guide with the complete season schedule, as well as weekly power rankings, game predictions, rosters for every team and much more.


Here’s a look at how all the teams stack up in both divisions

The new XFL is off and running, and if you’re wondering how the playoffs work and what the standings look like, you’re in luck. Each XFL team will play 10 regular season games, and the top two from each division move on to the playoffs, featuring the East Division title game (3 p.m. ET on April 18) and West Division title game (3 p.m. ET on April 19) at the home field of the team with the better record. The XFL championship game will be held on April 26 at TDECU Stadium on the University of Houston campus.

Be sure to check back each week to see the updated standings below, and don’t miss all of CBS Sports’ XFL coverage. We’ve got a detailed XFL viewer’s guide, projected team win totals, weekly power rankings, game predictions, a breakdown of every player in the league and much more.


The first big officiating blunder, no one can stop Houston, DC’s defense rebounds

One of the great things about the XFL is that there are no secrets. The league makes it a point to show you everything that’s going on as it’s unfolding, warts and all.

And the biggest wart of the season thus far came in Saturday’s 32-23 win by Houston over Seattle. The mistakes were layered, but it started when Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker opted to take a knee on fourth-and-23 with about two or three seconds left in the game instead of hurling the ball deep and out of bounds to wind out the clock. The officials on the field didn’t identify that there was still time on the clock, declared the game over, and ran off the field. Afterward, officiating supervisor Wes Booker told ABC’s Steve Levy that there should have been time remaining for the Dragons to run one more play, but that the game was over anyway.

It was an egregious error and one of the most bizarre endings for a football game in a while. While the outcome may not have changed if Seattle had an opportunity for one more play and a three-point conversion, the Dragons nevertheless deserved the opportunity to send the game into overtime. With that in mind, the logistics of getting those plays off after the fact are difficult. To wrangle up all the players, coaches and various staff members and get them back out on the sidelines is a chore. Communication is key and obviously the league, still in its infancy, wasn’t prepared for a miscue like this.

The league did the right thing (the only thing) by issuing a statement later that evening, acknowledging the game should not have ended as it did and reassigning Booker to another position. You don’t like to see anyone be made an example of, but a precedence has to be set. Booker got the worst of it, but the officials on the field have to do a better job as well. Multiple Seattle players pleaded their case that time was still on the clock and they went unheard.

This was a learning experience for the XFL on how to handle mistakes in real time, and it won’t be the last. These are the growing pains of a new league whose purpose is to provide opportunities for all people — not just players. But the league did what it should have done by being transparent. The mistake has been made and there’s no going back, but you won’t lose anyone’s respect by owning up to it.

While the XFL’s officiating gaffe was the weekend’s biggest story, there were plenty of other takeaways from each of the four games. Here’s what else we learned from Week 5.

There’s no defending Houston’s explosiveness
At least not for 60 minutes. Seattle’s run-heavy offense was a good matchup on paper for Houston’s passing attack. By controlling the clock with the run game, the Dragons could shorten the game and keep Walker and Co. off the field. It worked for three quarters; the Dragons had a 23-20 lead heading into the fourth quarter and the offense had a season-high 32 rushing attempts for 100 yards and three touchdowns. Using quarterback B.J. Daniels’ legs was a nice complement to Kenneth Farrow and Trey Williams.

But you have to pick and choose your spots to live on the edge when you’re playing the Roughnecks. Why? Houston scored 26 of its 32 points in two quarters. Obviously, having Walker, Cam Phillips, Sam Mobley and others helps, but the comeback was also a credit to coaching. June Jones has little, if any, regard for down and distance. At some point this is going to be to a fault, but for now it means Houston enjoying the fruits of being arguably the most aggressive team in the XFL. And, candidly, this is not a league for conservative play-calling. The best example of this was Seattle coach Jim Zorn opting to punt on fourth-and-1 near midfield in the second quarter. One play later, Walker connected with Mobley for 42 yards. Zorn would have been just as well served to go for it and fail to get it. Houston has been playing it close a lot and one of these weeks it’s going to bite them in the rear, but that won’t happen until their opponent matches that aggressiveness.

DC’s defense was the difference vs. St. Louis
The Defenders took down the BattleHawks 15-6 Sunday afternoon in a battle of field goals. The only thing more impressive than DC’s defensive effort was the beer snake fans put together in the stands. But that’s another story for another day. DC’s defense showed up in a big way against the second-highest scoring offense in the XFL by allowing zero touchdowns, less than three yards per play and nabbing four sacks on quarterback Jordan Ta’amu. St. Louis, playing behind the sticks practically all day, was 25% on third downs (4-of-16) and 0-for on two key fourth-down attempts. And when he wasn’t sacked, Ta’amu was almost constantly on the run. For a team that loves to run the ball, those types of negative plays are lethal. DC’s quarterback switch from Cardale Jones to Tyree Jackson did just enough offensively to come away with the win, but the defense, which had allowed 32 points per game in its previous two losses, was lights out. There’s something to be said for XFL teams playing at home vs. on the road. Other than Dallas, which has enjoyed all its success away from Globe Life Park, just about every XFL team has been much better at home. That was definitely the case for DC’s defense on Sunday. Still, when the Defenders needed a win, the defense played arguably its best game yet.

New York’s success rooted in its ground game
Yes, the Guardians are 2-0 since switching to Luis Perez at quarterback. And, to be sure, he’s been better for the offense. However, don’t overlook what the running game has done for this offense. New York had its best day on the ground this season with 144 yards on 32 attempts — a healthy 4.5 yards per carry with only three tackles for loss. Perez does a better job making good decisions with his passes. His lone interception against Dallas in a 30-12 win was more of a great individual play by Josh Hawkins. But with Darius Victor emerging as a nice bell-cow back, there’s more of a reliability to New York’s offense that wasn’t there in the first couple of weeks. This is true for a lot of teams and it’s a byproduct of not having a preseason. With its second win in a row, New York is now 3-2 and tied for first (!!!) in the East division.

Dallas’ struggles are more than the quarterback
You couldn’t pin the Renegades’ Week 1 loss on Philip Nelson, and Saturday’s loss to the Guardians was bigger than just him, too. Obviously, throwing two interceptions, including a pick-six, wasn’t ideal, but neither was playing from behind for the second half. In all, the Guardians only ran 62 plays to Dallas’ 67, but the Guardians had four successful scoring drives resulting in offensive points to the Renegades’ two — neither of which resulted in a touchdown. Landry Jones — who has seven interceptions, mind you — won’t be back for another week or two, but at the halfway point it’s fair to wonder if Dallas’ problems are more than whoever’s at quarterback. There’s no running game and the defense has progressively taken a step back each week. The six yards per play allowed Saturday was a season low.

Week 5 MVP: L.A. Wildcats QB Josh Johnson
When he wasn’t berating his offensive coordinator, Johnson was throwing dimes down the field to the tune of 288 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-34 win over Tampa Bay. Johnson overcame a slow start and helped his team come from behind thanks to some gorgeous downfield throws. The subplot with him and offensive coordinator Norm Chow will be something to watch moving forward, but he was money on the field Sunday evening.


Defenders coach Pep Hamilton says he planned to bench Cardale Jones, who will start in Week 6

Don’t call it a quarterback controversy for the DC Defenders. Following his team’s 15-6 win over St. Louis, not only did coach Pep Hamilton assert that Cardale Jones would start in Week 6, but that benching Jones following his seventh interception of the season actually planned.

“That was Cardale just trying to make a play. I don’t fault him for that,” Hamilton said, via Tom Schad of USA Today. “That was a heck of a play by the safety or whoever it was that picked the ball off.”

Jones was replaced by Tyree Jackson, who immediately came in and led the Defenders to their only touchdown drive of the day. Jackson was decent, but by no means great, in the win, going 9 of 14 on his passes for 39 yards. However, he provided more of a designed running threat than Jones.

“We know that (Jones) can do anything that we ask him to do,” Hamilton added. “Tyree, on the other hand, is 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds and is really more of a dynamic runner. … If he just falls forward, that’s five yards. His body’s like eight yards long.”

It wouldn’t be surprising for DC to go with both quarterbacks in role playing capacities moving forward. Even before being pulled against the BattleHawks, Jones was coming off of two dreadful performances in back-to-back losses in Weeks 3 and 4. This might turn into a thing where Hamilton goes with the rhythm of a game depending on which player has the hot hand. That’s been Jackson most recently, if for no other reason than he hasn’t been arm punting his way into infamy.


Oliver Luck, XFL commissioner, contributes cup to Defenders fans’ beer snake

XFL commissioner Oliver Luck is doing everything that he can to make the XFL a success story. During Sunday’s game between the St. Louis BattleHawks and DC Defenders, he went the extra mile and made his personal contribution to the Defenders’ beer snake. Luck walked over to the section of Defenders fans and handed a plastic cup to them so that it could be added to the already lengthy line of cups.



THIS LEAGUE. pic.twitter.com/V41n5ndpNQ

— XFL (@xfl2020) March 8, 2020
As Luck walked over, he twirled the cup in the air to get the fans going. The fans appreciated Luck’s contribution as they started “MVP” chants” for the XFL commissioner.

Clearly Luck is endearing himself to the XFL fanbase and willing to do absolutely anything to accomplish that goal. The beer snake has become a weekly phenomenon at Defenders’ home games at Audi Field.

Perhaps it was just the juju that the Defenders needed to get back to their winning ways after a pair of consecutive losses. The Defenders got back on track with a 15-6 win over the BattleHawks to bring their record to 3-2 on the season. Quarterback Tyree Jackson saw the bulk of the playing time for the Defenders and ended up tossing a touchdown pass despite only having 39 passing yards.


Here are our MVPs, Coach of the Year and All-XFL team at the halfway point

The front half of the XFL’s inaugural season is officially in the books — five games down, five to go with the playoffs arriving in April. The season hasn’t disappointed. Houston is must-see TV at 5-0 with the (spoiler alert!) leader for league MVP, quarterback P.J. Walker. Elsewhere, three teams sit at 3-2 atop the East. That race will be fascinating to watch over the next month.

As we look ahead to the final five games, let’s take a moment and hand out superlatives for the XFL’s Offensive and Defensive MVPs, as well as the Coach of the Year, for the first half. We also have our Midseason All-XFL team. Keep in mind that with such a limited sample size and data pool, there will be players selected who have either had an “off” game or two, or have been sidelined with injuries. End-of-season awards will be much easier to compile. Still, these are players who have at least shown flashes of greatness and are worthy of being recognized.

Offensive MVP
Houston Roughnecks QB P.J. Walker: Quarterback play is going to drive this league and Walker is the face of that. He’s had a greater impact on his team, and the league, than anyone else. He leads the XFL with 1,338 yards passing and 16 total touchdowns. He’s a show every time he drops back or takes off running. Will he get a NFL contract at the end of this season? It seems likely so long as he’s healthy, but there’s no guarantee he’d start. It makes more financial sense to go to the NFL, but he’s already a star in the XFL.

Defensive MVP
St. Louis BattleHawks S Will Hill: Houston linebacker Demarquis Gates nearly made this a clean sweep for the Roughnecks, but Hill has been a Swiss Army weapon for the BattleHawks’ defense. The safety has 33 tackles, 4 tackles for loss and 3 sacks, so he’s capable of coming up in the box or on a blitz and making an impact. On the back end, he has a pair of interceptions and pass deflections. Just about every player has had at least one “off” week, but Hill has been consistently great through five games.

Coach of the Year
June Jones, Houston Roughnecks: It helps when you have Walker, but Jones embodies a lot of the things that can make for a fun XFL. He’s hyper aggressive and pass-happy with almost no regard for situational down-and-distance football. He has the best player in the league and he doesn’t shy away from using him. He makes watching the XFL fun. Oh, and his team is the only unbeaten remaining. So, yes, after five games Jones is our leader for Coach of the Year.

All-XFL Midseason Team
QB: P.J. Walker, Houston Roughnecks
RB: Jacques Patrick, Tampa Bay Vipers
RB: Matt Jones, St. Louis BattleHawks
WR: Cam Phillips, Houston Roughnecks
WR: Tre McBride, L.A. Wildcats
TE: Donald Parham, Dallas Renegades
OL: Damien Mama, New York Guardians
OL: Jordan McCray, Tampa Bay Vipers
OL: Terry Poole, Houston Roughnecks
OL: Kirk Barron, Seattle Dragons
OL: Martez Ivey, Tampa Bay Vipers
K: Taylor Russolino, St. Louis BattleHawks

DL: Will Sutton, Seattle Dragons
DL: Cavon Walker, New York Guardians
DL: Anthony Johnson, DC Defenders
DL: Bunmi Rotini, New York Guardians
LB: Steven Johnson, Seattle Dragons
LB: DeMarquis Gates, Houston Roughnecks
LB: Jameer Thurman, DC Defenders
CB: Tarvarus McFadden, Tampa Bay Vipers
CB: Elijah Campbell, DC Defenders
S: Rahim Moore, DC Defenders
S: Will Hill, St. Louis BattleHawks
P: Marquette King, St. Louis BattleHawks

Return Specialists
KR: Austin Walter, Dallas Renegades


Josh Johnson compiling MVP numbers, plus four other key stats to know entering Week 6

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.


Defenders return to form; Renegades, Vipers take a tumble

We’re now halfway through the 2020 XFL regular season, and it’s still anyone’s guess as to which teams are actually for real — or at least every team except the Houston Roughnecks, who lit up the scoreboard yet again in Week 5 to improve to 5-0 on the year.

Outside of Houston, it’s been tossup central across the league. Exhibit A: The DC Defenders entered Week 5 after probably the worst two-game stretch of any team in the XFL, and their embattled quarterback, Cardale Jones, threw his seventh interception of the season early against the St. Louis BattleHawks, who were favored on the road. Even so, it was the Defenders — not the BattleHawks — who stole the weekend spotlight, suddenly returning to form on “D” and getting enough production from replacement QB Tyree Jackson to limit St. Louis to a pair of field goals and leap back above .500.

That’s why, for the third week in a row, we’ve done quite a bit of shuffling for our XFL Power Rankings. The top two teams remain the same, but the rest of the pecking order once again got a makeover:

CBS Sports’ XFL coverage is here for you with our Midseason Awards, individual stats leaders through Week 5, updated standings and much more.

  1. Houston Roughnecks (5-0)
    With each passing week, it seems like Houston relies more on P.J. Walker to be magical. That’s a bittersweet recipe, because on one hand, Walker has been more than capable of shouldering the burden, but on the other, you have to wonder if, at some point down the road, June Jones is going to be forced to use a game plan other than, “Let No. 11 do it.” Week 5, in fact, gave us a little taste of that already, with Walker throwing not one but two picks in yet another one-score game. Until he’s not the guy under center, though, it’s impossible to bet against them.

Previously: 1

  1. St. Louis BattleHawks (3-2)
    Everyone but the Roughnecks has slipped up on the road, so perhaps we can write off their Week 5 dud against DC to travel woes. But the breakdown of the O-line was not encouraging, especially considering this team’s whole offense is predicated upon protection up front. Even worse: It’s not like St. Louis didn’t break off some big runs against the Defenders. Jordan Ta’amu was simply under so much pressure otherwise that the club looked like a shell of itself. And yet they’ve remained No. 2 on this list for a while for a reason. Ta’amu still controls the ball very well, they still pound the rock with confidence, and their “D” has been very consistent.

Previously: 2

  1. DC Defenders (3-2)
    Look who’s back in the top three! Cardale Jones looked as if he learned nothing from DC’s two-game losing streak during a poor start against St. Louis, but fortunately the Defenders lived up to their name in front of the home crowd. Tyree Jackson doesn’t seem like a sustainable answer at QB, but neither does Jones right now, so DC needs to get extremely creative with its ground game. At the very least, the defense having its confidence back should go a long way toward keeping them competitive in the East.

Previously: 4

  1. Los Angeles Wildcats (2-3)
    Week 5 was a microcosm of the Wildcats’ entire 2020 season. For a half, everything looked horrible — defense surrendering yards left and right, the mic’d-up QB calling out the offensive coordinator. Then, suddenly, Josh Johnson settled in and looked like the best XFL QB this side of P.J. Walker, floating bomb after bomb while the Wildcats defense morphed into a takeaway machine. When these guys are on, they’re on. The problem is predicting when they won’t be.

Previously: 5

  1. New York Guardians (3-2)
    Perhaps we shouldn’t undersell Luis Perez at QB. Since taking over Kevin Gilbride’s offense, the former AAF starter has thrown for 418 yards, three touchdowns and one pick with a passer rating of 92.1. He hasn’t been perfect, but he’s been really solid. And when you couple that with the Guardians defense, which has been one of the best in the game at home, you’ve got a scrappy contender.

Previously: 8

  1. Tampa Bay Vipers (1-4)
    Offensive coordinator Jaime Elizondo still deserves a ton of credit for turning this offense around; the Vipers have averaged 28.6 points per game since he took over play-calling duties from Marc Trestman. They also almost upset the Wildcats on the road. But we saw Sunday night that when the run game stalls, they have issues. The defense also looked lost in deep coverage. At the end of the day, they’re better than their record suggests, but not by that much.

Previously: 3

  1. Dallas Renegades (2-3)
    The one thing Bob Stoops had going for him was the Renegades defense, and even that fell apart at home on Saturday, with New York hitting 30 points a few weeks after being deemed the XFL’s worst offense. Philip Nelson at QB just isn’t going to get the job done, either. Landry Jones returning in a few more weeks might inspire hope, but that’d also be an exercise in inevitable disappointment.

Previously: 6

  1. Seattle Dragons (1-4)
    B.J. Daniels is at least a fun watch when he uses his legs, and Seattle hasn’t rolled over in recent weeks, keeping things close against far superior rosters — like St. Louis in Week 4 and Houston in Week 5. The Dragons give up way too many big plays, however, to keep themselves in contention.

Top five performances, plus a handful of burning questions and playoff picture

Say this for the XFL: it’s packed a lot into the first five weeks. Officiating controversies! In-game quarterback rants! Back flips in the end zone! About the only thing the league hasn’t enjoyed yet is overtime — and that’s a matter of when. With the second half of the XFL season beginning in earnest, let’s take a moment to enjoy what’s transpired so far and discuss what’s ahead both in the regular season and the playoffs.

Below are the five best individual performances through the first five weeks, followed by five burning questions for the second half of the season, and a quick glance at the playoff race with April quickly approaching. CBS Sports’ XFL coverage is here for you with our Midseason Awards, individual stats leaders through Week 5, Power Rankings and much more.

Top five performances of the first half

  1. Houston Roughnecks QB P.J. Walker vs. Tampa Bay Vipers (Week 3)
    Stat line: 24 of 36, 306 yards passing, 4 total TDs

It wouldn’t be a list of the five best performances without Walker. The Roughnecks star could claim a few games for this selection, but his most exciting came against the Vipers in Week 3. He posted season-best numbers through the air (306 yards, long of 84, 120.8 passer rating) and on the ground (34 yards) while tying his game high of four touchdowns.

  1. L.A. Wildcats QB Josh Johnson vs. Tampa Bay Vipers (Week 5)
    Stat line: 20 of 36, 288 yards passing, 4 TDs, 1 INT

Johnson started the XFL’s highest scoring game of the season by throwing an interception. He ended it with nearly 300 yards through the air, four touchdowns and two phone calls to berate his offensive coordinator, Norm Chow. Audio of Johnson telling Chow to “calm down” and “just call plays … stop it” only adds to the lore. I can’t tell if this is something to be concerned about or simply Johnson’s in-game demeanor. In any case, it was peak XFL.

  1. DC Defenders DT Siupeli Anau vs. St. Louis BattleHawks (Week 5)
    Stat line: 4 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 QBH, 1 FF

To be abundantly clear: DC wasn’t doing a whole lot of defending between Weeks 3 and 4, allowing 64 points to Tampa Bay and LA. But in Sunday’s 15-6 win vs. St. Louis, DC’s defense had arguably its best performance so far. The BattleHawks got their yards, but Anau and the Defenders’ defensive front made sure they got nothing else. St. Louis went 25% on third downs, and 0-for on fourth-down and red zone attempts.

  1. Houston Roughnecks CB Deatrick Nichols vs. Dallas Renegades (Week 4)
    Stat line: 3 tackles, 2 INTs

Landry Jones’ very bad day was a great day for Nichols, who grabbed two of Jones’ three interceptions. The first came off a tipped pass, but the second was a nice zone coverage read in which Nichols undercut a route. The Roughnecks haven’t exactly been a shutdown defense, but they have been opportunistic with the league’s highest sack rate (7.7%) and second-highest interception rate (4.4%). Negative plays and turnovers are how the Roughnecks get their stops.

  1. Tampa Bay’s running game vs. DC Defenders (Week 4)
    Stat line: 266 yards rushing, 2 TDs

A bit of a cop-out because it’s shared among three players, but the Vipers’ ground game was unstoppable in their only win of the season. De’Veon Smith and Jacques Patrick rushed for 122 and 108 yards, respectively, each at 5.1 yards per rush. Those still represent two of the highest individual totals to date. Even quarterback Taylor Cornelius got in on the action with 36 yards and a touchdown on just four attempts. Tampa Bay may be 1-4, but they’ve played far better over the past three weeks and the running game is a leading reason why.

Five burning questions for the second half

  1. Who will finally beat the Roughnecks? For as good as Houston’s been, I would be surprised if it goes undefeated. That’s a hard feat for any team. Consider that since Week 1, the Roughnecks’ average margin of victory has been 6.75 points — about a touchdown and one-point conversion. In fact, Houston hasn’t won by more than one possession since the opener against a Josh Johnson-less L.A. Wildcats team. There are some tricky games coming up, too, in Week 6 at New York and in Week 7 vs. DC. The Roughnecks are the favorites for a reason, but someone’s going to trip them up.
  2. Is this the Josh Johnson we’ve been waiting to see? Johnson came to the XFL as one of its most experienced signal callers. That’s finally starting to pay dividends. Since Week 3, Johnson has been en fuego with the league’s highest passer rating and an 11-2 TD-to-INT ratio. With quarterback problems in Dallas and Seattle, L.A., even at 2-3, seems like the West team best equipped to make a playoff run, next to Houston. Week 7 (at St. Louis) and Week 8 (vs. Houston) should be fascinating.
  3. Will the Vipers finally turn the corner? I’ll continue to stump that Tampa Bay has the most-improved offense since Week 1. That’s a credit to coach Marc Trestman for actually giving himself less to do by handing the play-calling to offensive coordinator Jaime Elizondo. Though just 1-2 since Week 3, the Vipers have scored 28.7 points per game in that span, which ranks third in the XFL. Those two losses? To Houston and L.A. — the two highest-scoring offenses — by exactly seven points apiece. Things don’t get any easier with St. Louis coming to town in Week 6, but at some point it feels like the Vipers are about to turn the corner. And in the East, the playoff race remains wide open.
  4. Can DC’s defense even out? Look, most teams in the XFL are going to struggle on the road. Only two teams — Houston and Dallas — have won two road games. One is the best team in the XFL. The other is enigmatic with zero home wins. As it relates to DC, the Defenders are allowing 8.3 points per game at home and 32 points per game on the road — literally four times as many. So what lies ahead for DC? Oh, just three road games in the final five weeks against Houston, New York and St. Louis, all of whom are above .500 with an offensive identity. With offensive production going down by the week and a revolving door at quarterback, the Defenders may have to lean on their defense. The question is: can they?
  5. Can Dallas patch up its offense? There’s no other way to describe Landry Jones’ nagging knee injury other than it’s a bummer. The Renegades are averaging 23 points per game when he’s the starter and about 10.5 when he’s not. Philip Nelson has been doing his best, but he’s been put in a tough spot and the offense isn’t nearly as capable of opening up when he’s taking snaps. Jones should be back by Week 7 and the Renegades may need him sooner than later if they’re going to try to make a playoff run. With two legit running backs and a game-changer at tight end in Donald Parham, the missing piece is a quarterback who can distribute the ball and not turn it over. (And to that point, Jones has seven interceptions.)

Playoff Race
East Division: It’s up for grabs. Three teams — the BattleHawks, Defenders and Guardians — are locked at 3-2. The Vipers are 1-4, but are 1-2 in the last three weeks with both losses by seven points. Of the three teams tied for first, the Guardians probably have the most advantageous home schedule, with DC, Houston and St. Louis all going to New York. The Defenders, on the other hand, have to go to Houston and St. Louis. Road teams are 6-14 straight up this year.

West Division: It’s Houston’s to lose, that’s for sure. The undefeated Roughnecks have a three-game lead on Dallas and L.A. with wins over both and can clinch a spot by Week 7. Though the Renegades, Wildcats and Dragons area all under .500, L.A. might be the only team with the offensive firepower to actually compete with Houston. L.A. doesn’t have a win over a divisional opponent yet, but does get Houston at home in Week 8. The Renegades will be without starting quarterback Landry Jones for at least another week, maybe two.