Two weeks into the XFL season, it seemed pretty apparent which teams were for real and which ones weren't. Three weeks in, we might have to rearrange our perspective to account for a couple of big surprises in Week 3.
The DC Defenders, for one, looked far and away like the most well-rounded contender of the revived league after an impressive two-game stretch to open the season. But then came an absolute dud of a performance on Sunday night. The Los Angeles Wildcats, on the other hand, seemed like a pretty safe bet to finish near the XFL cellar after an ugly start to 2020, and yet they might be touting one of the most underrated groups in the entire league as we approach Week 4.
That's why, for the first time this season, we've got some major shakeups in our XFL Power Rankings, namely at the very top of the pecking order. Buckle up, friends, because the powers have shifted:
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1. Houston Roughnecks (3-0)
When the season started, some poked fun at June Jones for throwing the ball so much. Now, our one wish is for him to throw it even more. P.J. Walker's breakout cannot be overstated, and with each passing week, the inevitability of his return to the NFL increases. Not only that, but he's surrounded by underrated playmakers, from RB James Butler (5.7 yards per carry) to WR Cam Phillips, who leads the XFL in . Do they rely on Walker and the offense too much? Sometimes. But the pass rush is capable of big plays, and as long as No. 11 is healthy, they should be favored.
2. St. Louis BattleHawks (2-1)
For a guy who never started a professional game before Week 1, Jordan Ta'amu sure looks like one of the XFL's veteran QBs. He's mobile. He can zip it. He's accurate. And under Jonathan Hayes' coaching, he's got the supporting cast to execute an offense that's simultaneously capable of controlling the clock and rattling off explosive plays, with RBs Matt Jones and Christine Michael helping shoulder the load. Simply put, the BattleHawks look like they can win just about any way they need to, and their defense is quietly just as reliable as that of our next team, the former No. 1.
3. DC Defenders (2-1)
How the mighty have fallen. If you figured DC was talented enough to rout L.A. on the road in Week 3, join the club. But Cardale Jones' penchant for forcing passes rather than playing for the next down finally bit him hard, and it didn't help that the Defenders' typically lock-down secondary suffered a half-dozen breakdowns. As bad as their Sunday night loss was, Pep Hamilton's got more than enough NFL-caliber starters on both sides of the ball to right the ship. On paper, they're still incredibly balanced, and if Jones can be just a little smarter, they'll be right back in the championship conversation.
4. Dallas Renegades (2-1)
Landry Jones looked out of football shape when he debuted in Week 2, but since about the fourth quarter of that game, he's helped oversee an incredibly efficient offense -- one that's featured a couple of consistent standouts in RB Cameron Artis-Payne (6.7 yards per carry) and big TE Donald Parham Jr. (217 yards). Bob Stoops' squad also boasts a really solid defense, surrendering an XFL-best 15 points per game. They don't light up the scoreboard, and against more active defenses, you wonder whether Jones will hold up, but after three weeks and two road wins, they're in a good spot.
5. Los Angeles Wildcats (1-2)
If there were a three-week Comeback Team of the Year award, it'd go to L.A. Winston Moss's defense gave up 62 points over the first two weeks, and their dismissal of Pepper Johnson after just one game will live on in infamy. But the Wildcats have been a different unit, in terms of both energy and production, since Josh Johnson settled in at QB. By exploiting holes in DC's defensive backfield on Sunday, they reminded us they're just as capable as anyone of scoring on big plays, and the WR duo of Nelson Spruce and Tre McBride is up there with the best in the league.
6. Seattle Dragons (1-2)
We want to believe in Brandon Silvers. We really do. And Jim Zorn doesn't really have any other choice but to let his QB sling it; Silvers' big-play efforts are pretty much the only thing that keep Zorn's offense from being a three-headed ground show, with conservative play-calling to boot. At the end of the day, though, they are what Silvers is: Unpredictable. The defense has been clutch at times, and when WR Austin Proehl gets the ball, look out. All in all, though, they feel like a .500 team.
7. Tampa Bay Vipers (0-3)
Marc Trestman seemed like the safest bet to spur the XFL's first in-season coaching change after the first two weeks of the year, and while we're still not entirely sure whether his QB rotation is the best way to distract us from the fact he opened the year with Aaron Murray atop the depth chart, Week 3 was a marked improvement. Quinton Flowers finally got enough run to make an impact. Taylor Cornelius showed at least a little flash. And the whole team had enough spirit to take the Roughnecks, of all teams, to the wire.
8. New York Guardians (1-2)
Maybe going to Luis Perez at QB should've been a thing before the fourth quarter of Week 3. Guardians fans might be able to convince themselves the defense is fine, with an occasionally dominant line, but they still have to put up with a poorly designed, poorly called and poorly executed offense. Somehow, it might still get worse before it gets better.