With the Super Bowl now final, the 2022-2023 NFL season is officially over. Although, it will not be the same, there is some good news for those that love football: The XFL Week 1 starts tomorrow! The eight-team league is full of players that every football fan will recognize, and this is an opportunity for players to make a pitch to NFL or other professional leagues that they can still play. For those of you that want to expand your horizons in terms of professional sports to watch and bet on, the XFL offers a very good opportunity for you! With the season in full swing this week, let’s take a look at all 8 XFL teams, their coaches, and their star players. Note: All future odds are via Draft Kings as of 2/17.
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
Odds to Win XFL: +500
The XFL welcomes Bob Stoops once again, as he was the Renegades Head Coach in their re-launch season back in 2020. With the second-best odds to win the league this season, the Renegades not only have a quality coaching staff but also have some playmakers on the field. Former teammates Kyle Sloter and Sal Canella are going to headline this offense after having success in the USFL last year, leading the New Orleans Breakers to the playoffs. Sloter was efficient throwing the football last season, as he was second in the USFL with 1,798 yards. However, he struggled under pressure and threw 11 interceptions. Canella was one of Sloter’s favorite targets, as he had 368 receiving yards. With former Oklahoma Sooner, Jordan Smallwood, at WR and former UCF Knight, Adrian Killins at RB, the Renegades are going to have a very solid offense that is going to make some noise this season.
Head Coach: Reggie Barlow
Odds to Win XFL: +650
There is a ton of value in getting the DC Defenders at +650 to win the XFL for a number of reasons. First, they have arguably one of the best offenses on the league. QB Jordan Ta’amu was very solid in the USFL last season, leading the league with 2,014 passing yards and 14 TDs. He will also have former Baylor standout Abram Smith in the backfield, who showed what he can do in college who rushed for just over 1,600 yards and 12 TDs in his senior year at Baylor. Defensively, the Defenders has a name at DC that you will recognize: Gregg Williams. The former NFL defensive-coordinator will have this defense playing hard-nosed defense and giving a number of different looks that will have offenses across the league rattled. With a talented offense and a DC that has a super bowl ring, the Defenders are looked at by teams all across the league as the team to beat in the XFL.
Head Coach: Wade Phillips
Odds to Win XFL: +600
The Roughnecks have a couple of question marks going into the season at various positions, but also have a ton of depth offensively. The biggest question mark will be who the Roughnecks will start at QB Week 1. The three person QB battle between Brandon Slivers, Cole McDonald, and Kaleb Eleby is going to be one to watch at the beginning of the year. However, this is by far the deepest QB room in the league, which could be crucial if the Roughnecks start to go on a downward spiral or if their starter gets hurt. Once the battle is over at quarterback, the victor is going to have a couple of key weapons at WR to throw to. Former Hawaii star and 2019 First-Team All Mountain West WR, Cedric Byrd brings some speed on the outside. The former Rainbow Warrior had 2,067 yards in just two seasons that he started for Hawaii. They also have former USC Trojan Deontay Burnett, who has experience with a few NFL teams. With Super Bowl winning coach Wade Phillips at the helm, the Roughnecks are looking to alleviate their position struggles and show they are the best in the league.
Head Coach: Terrell Buckley
Odds to Win XFL: +900
Many are viewing the Guardians as the weakest team in the XFL, which may give the team bulletin board material for them to use throughout the season. Former Heisman Trophy finalist, Paxton Lynch is getting the nod at quarterback for the Guardians, after a poor USFL skit that saw him pass for only 550 yards, 4 TDs and 4 INTs. He will have a very solid WR in former Oklahoma Sooner Charleston Rambo. Rambo’s explosiveness off the snap and the ability to catch in traffic could pay dividends for Orlando and lead to Lynch’s success. If things do not pan out with Lynch at QB, the Guardians have another solid QB they can turn to in Florida State star, DeAndre Francios. It does appear that overall, the Guardians do have the weakest roster in the XFL this season, but we have seen before that the teams viewed as the weakest at the beginning of the season, have the most success by year end. We’ll see if Orlando is that team.
San Antonio Brahmas
Head Coach: Hines Ward
Odds to Win XFL: +650
You did not misread that at all: Two-time Super Bowl Champion Hines Ward is the head coach. He comes in with a little coaching experience, as he was the WR coach at Florida Atlantic in 2021 and was an offensive assistant for teams in the NFL. He is going to need to bring it with the squad that he has for this team. Former Wisconsin and Notre Dame QB Jack Coan is getting the nod at QB for the Brahmas. Coan had a solid college career, where he led Notre Dame to a very impressive 11-2 season and passed for 3,150 yards, 27 TDs and 7 INTs. Although they played at separate times, Coan will also have a Notre Dame target that he will be throwing to in former Fighting Irish TE Alize Mack. The one target that is going to make this offense electric is the WR1 for the Brahamas, Jalen Tolliver. The Arkansas-Monticello graduate was very impressive in his time with a school, starting for three years, having over 3,000 yards receiving and 39 TDs. If the potential of this roster pans out, they are going to surprise and upset teams in the league this season.
Seattle Sea Dragons
Head Coach: Jim Haslett
Odds to Win XFL: +450
Out of all of the teams in the league, the Sea Dragons by far have the most NFL experience in their coaching staff and their players. Jim Haslett is no stranger to the NFL, as he was the NFL rookie of the year in 1979. He also had quite a bit of success coaching in the NFL too, where he led the New Orleans Saints to the playoffs, guided them to their first playoff win, and got Coach of the Year in 2000. As far as players go, Seattle is going with Ben DiNuci at QB, who had started a game for the Dallas Cowboys in 2020. However, there is one guy that everyone who watches the NFL will recognize that could lead the Sea Dragons all the way to the top: Josh Gordon. The veteran has shown what he can do in the league, as he had over 1,600 yards receiving back in 2013. Yes, that was 10 years ago, but Gordon is only 31. He has been suspended from the league multiple times, and is out to show that he still has that dog in him, and make NFL teams want to sign him. This NFL-filled roster could have what it takes for the Sea Dragons to win it all.
St. Louis Battlehawks
Head Coach: Anthony Becht
Odds to Win XFL: +400
The Battlehawks are the odds on favorites to win the XFL per Draft Kings. St. Louis is being led by AJ McCaron at QB. The former Crimson Tide player had a ton of success in college, as he led Alabama to the national champions three times in his career and only had three total losses in four years as a starter (that’s right, he had as many national championships as he did losses). Unfortunately for him, that college success has not translated to the pro level, so this is his audition to show people that he has what it takes to lead an offense. He has a talented RB in Brian Hill in the backfield to alleviate pressure off of him. The 27 year old back out of Wyoming had quite a successful career in college, rushing for 4,287 yards and 35 TDs in three years as a starter. They also have WR Marcell Ateman, who had a brief stint with the Raiders after a successful career at Oklahoma State hoping to show what he can do. This is a team that is looking to prove that they belong on a professional team, and they will absolutely showcase that this season.
Head Coach: Rod Woodson
Odds to Win XFL: +550
The former 1993 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Rod Woodson, is making his head coaching debut with the Vipers this season, as he has only been a position coach in all his years coaching. He has some stars that NFL fans will recognize. 31 year old Martivius Bryant is trying to audition for NFL teams that he belongs back in the league again, after being traded from the Steelers to the Raiders and immediately released. Bryant has had his struggles with football since then, so he is looking to show that he has the discipline and talent to play in the NFL again. Former 2015 top 10 pick, Vic Beasley headlines the defense for the Vipers this season, as he was the number one overall pick in the XFL Defensive Front Seven Draft. He, like Bryant, is hoping to prove that he belongs in the league. Finally, staring QB Luis Perez, had a phenomenal two seasons at Texas A&M Commerce, where he passed for 8,327 yards, 76 TDs, and 16 INTs. He has only made practice squads in the NFL. This is a team full of guys that are auditioning to get the NFL, and that could make them a dangerous team to watch out throughout the year.
There are names, both coaches and players, that NFL fans will recognize. For the most part, the teams are very even this season, and I expect the spreads for games to be very small. Talent will not be an issue. SportsCenter Top 10 plays will happen every week, and there will be some jaw-dropping moments for sure. Various rule changes that differ from the NFL will also happen, so the whole concept of the XFL is very intriguing. We are having a vast majority of the network providing plays for the XFL this season, and we are even having an XFL pick-em contest. Check out my other blog for the details on that. Let’s have a great year, and let’s all gain a fandom of an XFL team this season!