This week officially marks the halfway point of the 2020 XFL regular season, but it's anyone's guess as to who's actually for real now that four weeks of football are in the books.
Don't get it twisted; a couple of contenders look legitimately good, starting with the still-undefeated Houston Roughnecks. But the majority of the league's eight inaugural franchises are increasingly hard to read. Take the DC Defenders, for example, who opened the year with two straight wins and seemed like a lock to represent the East in April's championship. After Sunday night's embarrassing loss in Tampa Bay, they just might be the most dysfunctional group of the bunch.
That's why, for the second week in a row, we've got some major shakeups in our XFL Power Rankings. The top dog is the same, but the rest of the pecking order got a relatively significant makeover:
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1. Houston Roughnecks (4-0)
June Jones should have the widest smile in the league. P.J. Walker has yet to turn in a start without at least a handful of dazzling plays, and -- stop us if you've heard this before -- as long as he's under center, Houston should be favored. The Roughnecks can't count on the opposing quarterback giving them four turnovers every week, and if we're being honest, Houston has lived relatively close to the edge for a few weeks, banking on Walker to pull a rabbit out of his hat in crunch time. Still, his magic is so real.
2. St. Louis BattleHawks (3-1)
They would give Houston a run for their money. Why? Because even when their ground game (the central component of their offense) isn't firing on all cylinders, QB Jordan Ta'amu is. While he's not nearly as flashy as Walker, he's been, and the efficiency with which he produces is something else. St. Louis should be proud.
3. Tampa Bay Vipers (1-3)
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Catch you off guard? Look, eight or nine days ago, we would've laughed alongside you. But they've boastedsince Marc Trestman gave play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Jaime Elizondo ahead of Week 3. QB Taylor Cornelius isn't a game-breaker, but he was Mr. Cool against a far more talented opponent in prime time on Sunday night, and that's because the Vipers have finally figured out how to lean on what works. For a team that looked dead after an 0-2 start, they've also showcased a ton of energy and belief in each other.
4. DC Defenders (2-2)
You could make an argument they deserve to be a lot lower. And if the current trend holds, they will be manning the cellar. It's that bad. Cardale Jones suddenly looks like a defeated QB, and the once-vaunted secondary has fluctuated between disinterested and unprepared. The only reason they remain a top-five club here is the fact they're headed back home, where they started so strongly, plus the reality they still own maybe the most well-rounded roster in the league in terms of NFL-caliber starters.
5. Los Angeles Wildcats (1-3)
Everyone hopped back on their bandwagon following the big Week 3 upset of DC, but maybe the Defenders are just bad? Josh Johnson has played well ever since he settled in under center, but L.A. can't seem to get out of its own way sometimes. When their offense is clicking, the "D" gives up a ton of points. When the other side of the ball is on point, the Wildcats put up just 14.
6. Dallas Renegades (2-2)
If they had a solid option at QB, they might be in the top three. How else do you explain them keeping the Roughnecks, of all contenders, in a close game on a day in which Landry Jones throws three picks and gets strip-sacked on a defensive score? Their defense should keep them in contention, but with Jones now banged up and possibly out for the year, they're going to be scraping by at the game's most important position -- barring a breakout by Philip Nelson or Brogan Roback.
7. Seattle Dragons (1-3)
Jim Zorn finally pulled the plug on Brandon Silvers in Week 4, and B.J. Daniels gave the Dragons a decent spark, at least with his legs. It's also hard to completely write off Seattle's "D," which has made some timely plays in tight games. But like most of these bottom-tier clubs, the questions at QB are too frequent to ignore. With either Silvers or Daniels, they're going to be hit or miss.
8. New York Guardians (2-2)
The Guardians played a heck of a game to outlast L.A. in Week 3, and Luis Perez did a fine job taking over for Matt McGloin at QB, with Marquise Williams chipping in as well. Credit to Kevin Gilbride for making that switch. The Guardians also have an underrated D/ST, which once again stepped up in the Big Apple for a "W." Talent-wise, they just don't have the ammunition to stay afloat for a whole season. If they can hover around .500 by year's end, that'd be a win.