Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for more football.
After a three-year hiatus, the XFL is back and ready to entertain football fans who aren’t ready to head into the offseason. The XFL will kick things off with four games this weekend — just six days after Super Bowl LVII — and will conclude the 2023 season with a championship game on May 13.
Of course, no football league can exist without Power Rankings, so we’ve compiled one just in time for the start of the XFL season. We’ll update our Power Rankings each week while keeping fans up to date on the teams and players who are on the rise.
Here’s our first of many XFL Power Rankings for the 2023 season, as we try to sort things out before these teams have played a single game. Let’s see how accurate these rankings are when an XFL champion is crowned three months from now.
- D.C. Defenders
The Defenders already have a philosophy despite not having yet played a game. Offensive coordinator Fred Kaiss will employ a spread out, college style offense. It appears that D.C. has the players to execute the attack. The Defenders have several capable quarterbacks, led by former USFL standout Jordan Ta’amu. They have a wealth of talent in the backfield that includes former New Orleans Saint Abram Smith — a physical, straight ahead back who averaged over 6 yards-per-carry during his college career at Baylor.
Defensively, the Defenders will likely mimic the attitude of Gregg Williams, a tough-minded coach whose resume includes being the defensive coordinator of the Super Bowl-winning Saints squad.
- Arlington Renegades
Continuity among the coaching staff is among the Renegades’ strengths. Flanked alongside head coach Bob Stoops is former OU and Iowa colleague Jonathan Hayes, who will share offensive coordinator duties with Chuck Long. Arlington’s staff also includes Tim Lewis, a former NFL defensive back who has had a wealth of coaching experience across several leagues.
The Renegades are pretty good on the field, too. Leading the way are former USFL teammates Kyle Sloter and Sal Canella. A classic pocket passer, Sloter played well last year in leading the USFL’s Breakers to the playoffs. Canella was unstoppable in the Breakers’ playoff loss to the eventual USFL champion Stallions, catching 12 passes for 154 yards.
CBS Sports HQ Newsletter
We bring sports news that matters to your inbox, to help you stay informed and get a winning edge.
I agree to receive the “CBS Sports HQ Newsletter” and marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers), and other information from CBS Sports and the Paramount family of companies.
- San Antonio Brahmas
The Brahmas are good enough to challenge for the league title. San Antonio’s roster features a slew of talented players that includes former NFL veterans Kalen Ballage and Patrick Turner.
This is the first head coaching assignment for Hines Ward, a former Pro Bowl receiver and Super Bowl MVP for the Steelers. Ward, who wisely surrounded himself with veteran assistants, is surely motivated to prove his value as a head coach.
- St. Louis Battlehawks
St. Louis’ quarterback and skill players should make this a fun team to follow. St. Louis has arguably the league’s most proven quarterback in A.J. McCarron, a two-time national champion at Alabama who nearly led the Bengals to a playoff win over the Steelers as a rookie.
At McCarron’s disposal is former Raiders and Cardinals wideout Marcell Ateman, and Darrius Shepherd, a veteran player who spent parts of 2022 with the USFL’s New Jersey Generals and Denver Broncos.
St. Louis also has a promising young offensive coordinator in Bruce Gradkowski, who had his own successful playing career at the college and pro ranks.
- Houston Roughnecks
Former NFL head coach and Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is Houston’s head coach, so expect the Roughnecks to field a tough defense. The main question in Houston is who will win the quarterback battle between Cole McDonald and Kaleb Eleby.
A former NFL seventh-round pick, McDonald briefly spent time with the Titans and Cardinals before going to the CFL. Eleby went undrafted in 2022 despite having a strong final season at Western Michigan.
For what it’s worth, the Roughnecks were the XFL’s best team in 2020, going a perfect 5-0 before the league shut down after five games due to COVID-19. P.J. Walker, now with the Carolina Panthers, was arguably the XFL’s best player that season.
- Seattle Sea Dragons
Let’s start with the fact that the Dragons field former All-Pro receiver Josh Gordon, whose resume includes being an NFL receiving champion and the owner of a Super Bowl ring. Seattle also has an experienced quarterback in Ben DiNucci, who spent the last several years with the Cowboys.
Seattle’s coaching staff is a beacon of experience. Led by former NFL Coach of the Year Jim Haslett, the Sea Dragons’ coaching staff also includes offensive pioneer June Jones and longtime NFL executive Randy Mueller.
- Las Vegas Vipers
First-time head coach Rod Woodson is hoping that the Vipers’ veteran players will turn back the clock. Those players include former NFL vets Vic Beasley (30), Matt Jones (29) and Martavis Bryant (31).
Las Vegas also has a solid quarterback in Luis Perez, a well-traveled player who briefly spent time with the Rams this past season. Perez does have competition, however, with Bryan Scott behind him on the depth chart. Scott has played in several leagues that includes a stint on the USFL’s Philadelphia Stars last year.
- Orlando Guardians
Inexperience, particularly at quarterback, is the main reason why the Guardians are currently taking up the rear. Orlando could turn heads if either DeAndre Francois, Mitch Kidd or Quentin Dormady pan out.
Francois, Florida State’s former quarterback, has played in several leagues that includes Fan Controlled Football. Kidd is also an FCF alum who actually won the league’s Offensive Player of the Year. Dormady had a well-traveled college career that included time at Tennessee, Houston and Central Michigan.