There are only two big events left in the current NFL season – the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl LVII. However, football fans – and bettors – can follow their favorite sport afterward, as the XFL is ready to stage a comeback.
The XFL has never been able to garner much support from sports fans. Each time it has tried to gain ground, it was pushed further back before throwing in the towel.
The last run was in 2020, although it quickly fizzled, sputtered and collapsed. Now, with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson at the helm, there’s hope 2023 will be the start of something special.
Football Fans Want Year-Round Football
If it were up to the majority of football fans, the NFL would be a year-round game, even despite all the officiating problems it had this season. Because that’s not possible, the XFL and the US Football League (USFL) are trying to pick up the slack.
The XFL will hold its first games on February 18, just a week after the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles meet on February 12 in Super Bowl LVII. The season runs for 10 weeks, with 40 regular-season games on the schedule.
The last of those games will be played on April 23, followed by the divisional round games on April 29 and 30. Finally, the championship game is on May 13. Football fans, and even those who just want to see what an alternative to the NFL looks like, can find the games on FX, ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC.
There are two divisions in the XFL – North and South. North includes the D.C. Defenders, Seattle Sea Dragons, St. Louis BattleHawks and Vegas Vipers. South includes the Arlington Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Orlando Guardians and San Antonio Brahmas.
Making the rosters of several teams are 285 former NFL players or NFL hopefuls looking to jumpstart their careers. There are also a number of NFL greats coming in as coaches, including Hines Ward (Brahmas) and Reggie Barlow Defenders). Jim Haslett, a former player and long-time NFL coach, is leading the Sea Dragons.
Sportsbooks are ready for the action, as well. They’re putting up the lines, and DraftKings currently has the BattleHawks in front to win the championship at +400. Close behind are the Sea Dragons, who are getting +450.
Of course, there’s no baseline upon which to draw the conclusions. Oddsmakers had a hard enough time correctly choosing NFL games, so anything goes with what could be the first complete XFL season.
In addition to the shorter seasons and still-untested battle plans, there are a number of things that will set XFL games apart from the NFL. Many of these are updates brought in following the demise of the league in 2020.
The play clock in the NFL is 40 seconds, but the XFL is going to make it 35. This is an increase on the 25 it considered three years ago.
On XFL kickoffs, the teams line up just five yards apart in an effort to prevent hard collisions. In the NFL, the separation is 10 yards.
Also in the NFL, a TD can lead to either an extra-point field goal or a two-point conversion. However, in the XFL, the scoring team can opt for a conversion from two yards for one point, from five yards out for two points or 10 yards out for three points.
There are other differences and rule nuances the XFL is deploying to set itself apart. The league wants to create a “fast-paced” game that focuses on the fan experience, as well as better player safety.
Following the Action
The complete regular-season schedule currently looks like this:
Saturday, February 18
Vegas Vipers at Arlington Renegades
Orlando Guardians at Houston Roughnecks
Sunday, February 19
St. Louis BattleHawks at San Antonio Brahmas
Seattle Sea Dragons at D.C. Defenders
Thursday, February 23
St. Louis BattleHawks at Seattle Sea Dragons
Saturday, February 25
D.C. Defenders at Vegas Vipers
Sunday, February 26
San Antonio Brahmas at Orlando Guardians
Arlington Renegades at Houston Roughnecks
Saturday, March 4
Seattle Sea Dragons at Vegas Vipers
Sunday, March 5
St. Louis BattleHawks at D.C. Defenders
Orlando Guardians at Arlington Renegades
San Antonio Brahmas at Houston Roughnecks
Saturday, March 11
Houston Roughnecks at Orlando Guardians
San Antonio Brahmas at Seattle Sea Dragons
Sunday, March 12
Arlington Renegades at St. Louis BattleHawks
Vegas Vipers at D.C. Defenders
Thursday, March 16
Houston Roughnecks at Seattle Sea Dragons
Saturday, March 18
D.C. Defenders at St. Louis BattleHawks
Orlando Guardians at Vegas Vipers
Sunday, March 19
Arlington Renegades at San Antonio Brahmas
Saturday, March 25
Seattle Sea Dragons at Orlando Guardians
St. Louis BattleHawks at Vegas Vipers
Sunday, March 26
San Antonio Brahmas at Arlington Renegades
Monday, March 27
Houston Roughnecks at D.C. Defenders
Friday, March 31
Seattle Sea Dragons at Arlington Renegades
Saturday, April 1
St. Louis BattleHawks at Houston Roughnecks
San Antonio Brahmas at Vegas Vipers
Sunday, March 19
D.C. Defenders at Orlando Guardians
Saturday, April 8
Vegas Vipers at St. Louis BattleHawks
Arlington Renegades at Orlando Guardians
Sunday, April 9
Houston Roughnecks at San Antonio Brahmas
D.C. Defenders at Seattle Sea Dragons
Saturday, April 15
Vegas Vipers at Houston Roughnecks
Orlando Guardians at San Antonio Brahmas
Sunday, April 16
Arlington Renegades at D.C. Defenders
Seattle Sea Dragons at St. Louis BattleHawks
Saturday, April 22
Orlando Guardians at St. Louis BattleHawks
D.C. Defenders at San Antonio Brahmas
Sunday, April 23
Houston Roughnecks at Arlington Renegades
Vegas Vipers at Seattle Sea Dragons
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