XFL power rankings: Houston Roughnecks, QB P.J. Walker dominant in league’s first three weeks

There is now just one undefeated squad in the XFL.

The Houston Roughnecks are rolling and have been the most consistent of the eight teams in the new league. Still, they’re not perfect. But the power rankings got a bit of a shake-up this week when the DC Defenders, considered by many to be one of the top teams, were routed. 

On the other end of the spectrum, things just keep getting worse for the Tampa Bay Vipers, the only team without a victory.

Here are the Week 3 power rankings:

1. Houston Roughnecks (3-0)

Defense remains an issue. The Roughnecks rank sixth in scoring defense (22.7 points per game allowed), just two better than the last-place Vipers.  Coach June Jones’ Run ’n’ Shoot offense has been too much for all opponents, and quarterback P.J. Walker is quickly distancing himself in the MVP race. Right now, Houston is the team to beat.

Last week: No. 1

A swarming defense has helped the Houston Roughnecks start the new XFL at 3-0. (Photo: Mary Holt, USA TODAY Sports)

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2. St. Louis BattleHawks (2-1)

The return of pro football to St. Louis was triumphant, with the BattleHawks toppling the Guardians by 20 points. The BattleHawks have a powerful rushing game that leads the XFL with 157.7 yards per game. On defense, St. Louis has yielded just 46 points, one more than the league-leading Renegades. A ball-control offense and a stingy defense are a recipe that could carry this team to a run in the playoffs.

Last week: No. 3

3. DC Defenders (2-1)

The Defenders suffered not only their first loss but a 30-point blowout to the previously winless Los Angeles Wildcats. Quarterback Cardale Jones seemed out of sorts, looked uncomfortable in the pocket and threw four interceptions before being benched. This is one of those games a team must  move on from quickly, but DC should still be a squad that carries some respect within the league.

Last week: No. 2

4. Dallas Renegades (2-1)

Quarterback Landry Jones needs to protect the ball much better, but running back Cameron Artis-Payne has shown he can be a reliable contributor. Most important, Dallas’ defense – which leads the XFL allowing just 15 points per game – is what makes this team formidable. A huge barometer comes in Week 4 in the form of the undefeated Roughnecks.

Last week: No. 5

5. Los Angeles Wildcats (1-2)

No team rose more than the Wildcats, whose defense took a massive step forward in a dominant victory against previously unbeaten DC. The Defenders came in with the league’s best passing offense, one that had averaged 245.5 yards per game, and held it to 90. Coach Winston Moss has taken control of the team’s defense, and quarterback Josh Johnson had an efficient, 278-yard, three-touchdown day.

Last week: No. 7

6. Seattle Dragons (1-2)

Arguably the biggest concern for coach Jim Zorn’s group is the Dragons simply haven’t played an entire consistent game. In their lone victory, 17-9 in Week 2 against the Vipers, they needed a strong second half to pull away. But in their two losses (to the Defenders in Week 1 and the Renegades in Week 3), Seattle was outscored by a combined 37-6 in the second halves.

Last week: No. 4

7. New York Guardians (1-2)

Simply put, the Guardians are in a free fall. The offense has stagnated under quarterback Matt McGloin, and when he went down with a rib injury the team wasn’t any better with backup Marquise Williams. Coach Kevin Gilbride might be best suited to revamp the scheme and look to be a physical, rush-first team. But the team must correct sloppy and undisciplined play that led to nine penalties.

Last week: No. 6

8. Tampa Bay Vipers (0-3)

Easily, Tampa Bay has been the worst team.  Coach Marc Trestman still can’t figure out his quarterback situation. He has stuck with backup Taylor Cornelius while starter Aaron Murray nurses a foot injury. Quinton Flowers has been relegated to a change-of-pace substitution but has flashed an ability to make throws, extend plays and scramble when needed. The bigger issue is it might get worse. The schedule is unforgiving, with a five-game stretch that includes matchups against the Defenders, Wildcats, Renegades, Defenders (again) and BattleHawks.

Last week: No. 8

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