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Harry’s Week 1 XFL Report Card

Harry’s Week 1 XFL Report Card

I was able to watch most of these games and dissect every aspect that went along with the overall entertainment value of the league. For the many football fans who said football is over once the Super Bowl ended, I say they are incorrect. The product that was on the field this past weekend had more ups than downs and football fans who are going through football withdrawal should maybe give the XFL some consideration.

Week 1 Final Scores

DC Defenders 31, Seattle Dragons 19
Houston Roughnecks 37, Los Angeles Wildcats 17
New York Guardians 23, Tampa Bay Vipers 3
St. Louis BattleHawks 15, Dallas Renegades 9

The Gambling View

Grade: A

To be honest, we as football fans didn’t know what we were going to see, but to our surprise the gambling discussion was prevalent from the very beginning of the first game. The announcers in all four games mentioned the spread and the total more times than we could count (which is a good thing).

We had a bit of controversy in the very first game when it came to the total. The OVER/UNDER in the Defenders/Dragons game was 51.5 and DC led 31-19 in the fourth quarter when the Dragons kicked a field goal to make it 31-22. That put the game OVER, which was mentioned on the broadcast, except the Defenders were flagged for running into the kicker. Dragons head coach Jim Zorn elected to take the points off the board and try for a touchdown but Seattle turned the ball over on the DC five-yard line with four minutes left and the game finished 31-19.

Also, on Sunday during the Dallas-St. Louis game, ESPN announcer Tom Hart made many references to the spread and who was covering at the time and explained what was happening with respect to the OVER/UNDER. At the end of the game when it displayed the final score, ESPN also added the spread and total on the screen and showed who had covered the spread. In all my years of watching sports, that was an absolute first. So, expect that to be the norm moving into Week 2 and beyond.

XFL Favorites vs Underdogs Against the Spread Go 2-2 After Week 1

Sideline Reporting

Grade: A-

I’ve got to give ESPN sideline reporter Dianna Russini credit. I’ve never seen a sideline reporter scramble and run around like she did to get in-game analysis from players. Russini did a great job, as did everyone reporting from the sidelines, and I’d otherwise give this an “A” but during her first-ever XFL report, a Dragons player on live television threw out two F-bombs, which probably made ESPN think twice about whether it was such a good idea.

Interviewing of Head Coaches During Game

Grade: B-

It was nice to hear what the head coach was thinking during a game and get his input, but in this case we didn’t get too much. Besides, we as fans were too busy trying to figure out what play calls were what, since we could hear the head coaches calling the plays to their quarterbacks.

Instant Replays and Referees

Grade: A-

There were a few instances where instant replay was required and they got it right every single time and were extremely quick about it. We are interested in the game but don’t need five-minute reviews either, so that was refreshing. I was impressed by how the referees controlled the game and didn’t call holding penalties constantly like officials do in the NFL. The NFL refs should have taken notes from the XFL on how to manage a game. Also, when there was an issue (which was not often at all), they got together and got the call right in a timely fashion, which was also refreshing.

Talent of Players

Grade: C+

The defense in these games was solid and hard-hitting, but the offense was average at best. The Dallas Renegades and head coach Bob Stoops, for example, had a tough time even putting together first downs. They were a 9-point favorite and only managed nine total points in the game. Possibly the best player in the league is their injured quarterback, Landry Jones, who might help improve my C+ grade if he is back this week against Los Angeles. Maybe it’s just that the quarterbacks in this league are having an issue with their accuracy going deep downfield, which could be a main reason why they are not in the NFL.

Top 5 Miscellaneous Things from Week 1

1. The Los Angeles Wildcats fired defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson after giving up 37 points to the Houston Roughnecks in their first game.

2. At halftime of the DC game, the kicker was interviewed after making a field goal from 55 yards (he had missed a 35-yard FG earlier). That is something we have never seen in an NFL game.

3. We had our first ejection for thrown punches in the Vipers/Guardians game. That is something these football guys never understand, no matter what league we are talking about. Ricky Walker of Tampa Bay connected to the face mask of a New York Guardians player. Correct me if I’m wrong but wouldn’t that hurt the puncher more than the punchee?

4. The camera was on wide receiver Kahlil Lewis of the Roughnecks when he went for a world record in distance for vomiting. The cameraman thought, I guess, that Lewis could do better, as they decided to show a second effort of vomiting on the field as the game was going on. Vince McMahon must have declared anything goes in this league, just like in the WWE.

5. It’s worth mentioning again that the first-ever sideline interview with a player produced not one but two F-bombs when he was explaining what was going on out on the field.

XFL Overall

Grade: B+

The gambling aspect really was something to hear and see. Just to think that when Al Michaels of Sunday Night Football makes even a sort of gambling reference, we as fans would go crazy and talk about it the next day. Here, we got a heavy dose of it from the first snap to the last. It would have been better to see some exciting plays and more scoring, though. In Week 1, five of the eight teams failed to score 20 points.

Harry’s Four Picks for Week 2

New York Guardians at DC Defenders -5

Prediction: Defenders 24, Guardians 13

The Defenders live up to their name and shut down QB Matt McGloin and the Guardians.

Tampa Bay Vipers at Seattle Dragons +2.5

Prediction: Vipers 22, Dragons 15

The Vipers clean up their turnover issues and the Dragons continue to have problems on defense.

Dallas Renegades at Los Angeles Wildcats +4.5

Prediction: Renegades 26, Wildcats 24

The Wildcats bounce back after getting rolled by the Roughnecks and cover in their home opener.

St. Louis BattleHawks at Houston Roughnecks -8

Roughnecks 32, BattleHawks 29

Jump on the OVER as both squads show off their offensive weapons in the highest-scoring game of the week.