• Connor Watson

The XFL Starter Pack

At the end of last year, I asked the question ‘Is the XFL the extra dose of football we all need?’.


Now on the eve of a renewed and reinvigorated XFL, it's time to take a look at what makes this league tick. Here's everything you need to know before watching on Saturday.


New Rules


Since my first look at the XFL in late November, the league has clarified their series of rule changes. All of the rules are aimed at creating “a faster pace of play and more action."


The rules, which are a dramatic shift away from the norms of the NFL and college football, aim to reduce downtime, increase“excitement” during the game all while keeping safety as a top priority.

Alongside a change in the way kick-offs will take place, the new rules include changes to most aspects of the game.

  • Double-forward pass: If a team completes a forward pass behind the line of scrimmage, that team may throw a second forward pass, as long as the ball has at no time crossed the line of scrimmage.

  • Point after touchdown (PAT): After a touchdown, the team has the option of running a play from the 2, 5, or 10-yard line, worth 1, 2, or 3 points respectively. The team must run an offensive play and no kicking plays are allowed. If the defense is able to cause a turnover and return the ball to the opponent’s end zone, the resulting score is equal to the number of points the offense was attempting to score on its PAT.

  • 25 Second Play Clock: The XFL will implement a 25-second play clock that begins after the ball is spotted for the next play. The league claims it takes 7-seconds on average to spot the ball which would make the play clock on average 32-seconds long.

The new play clock rules will include a change to the standard NFL and College officiating team formats. For the XFL there will be a dedicated Ball Spotting Official who will solely be responsible for quickly spotting the ball and getting a new ball after each play.


According to the XFL: “The Ball Spotting Official standardises the time it takes to spot the ball and gives the XFL an on-field official with control of the game tempo.”


Along with a series of rule changes also comes a series of schedule changes. The XFL will play games across both Saturday and Sunday, hosting two games each day.


The 10-week regular season will culminate in a two-week postseason. Week 1 will take the best two teams from the East and the West, pitting them against each other in a divisional matchup. The winner of each of those matches then heads onto week 2, which will play host to the Championship game.


Alongside rules to speed up the rate of play, the shorter season will also have no bye weeks for any team and won’t feature any bye weeks between the regular and post-seasons.


Meet the teams



Dallas Renegades


Stadium: Globe Life Park


Head Coach: Bob Stoops. Stoops spent 18 years as the head coach for University of Oklahoma


First game: Dallas Renegades vs St. Louis BattleHawks. Globe Life Park, Sunday, February 9, 5pm ET


DC Defenders


Stadium: Audi Field


Head Coach: Pep Hamilton. Hamilton has 21 years of NFL coaching experience: Baltimore Ravens (2002), New York Jets (2003-2005), San Francisco 49ers (2006), Chicago Bears (2007-2009), Indianapolis Colts (2013-2015) and Cleveland Browns (2016).


First game: DC Defenders vs Seattle Dragons, Audi Field, Saturday, February 8, 2pm ET


Houston Roughneck


Stadium: TDECU Stadium


Head Coach: June Jones. Jones has 32 years experience coaching across NFL, College and CFL.


First game: Houston Roughnecks vs Los Angeles Wildcats, TDECU Stadium, Saturday, February 8, 5pm ET


Los Angeles Wildcats


Stadium: Dignity Health Sports Park


Head Coach: Winston Moss. Moss has an 11-year NFL playing career with the Buccaneers, Raiders and Seahawks. A 20-year coaching career which includes 12 as associate NFL head coach and was Assistant head coach/LB coach for Super Bowl XLV-champion Green Bay Packers (2010-11).


First game: Houston Roughnecks vs Los Angeles Wildcats, TDECU Stadium, Saturday, February 8, 5pm ET


New York Guardians


Stadium: MetLife Stadium


Head Coach: Kevin Gilbride. Gilbride has 36 years experience as a coach, including 23 as an offensive coordinator and 7 as a head coach. He is also a two time Super Bowl champion (XLII, XLVI) as New York Giants offensive coordinator and helped develop quarterback Eli Manning.


First game: New York Guardians vs Tampa Bay Vipers, MetLife Stadium, Sunday, February 9, 2pm ET


St. Louis BattleHawks


Stadium: The Dome


Head Coach: Jonathan Hayes. Hayes had a 12-year career as TE with the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers followed by a 15-year career as TE coach for the Cincinnati Bengals.


First game: Dallas Renegades vs St. Louis BattleHawks. Globe Life Park, Sunday, February 9, 5pm ET


Seattle Dragons


Stadium: CenturyLink Field


Head Coach: Jim Zorn. Zorn has 25-years of coaching experience which includes 19 as a QB coach developing NFL talents like Joa Flacco and Matt Hasselback as well as a 2-year career as head coach for the Washington Redskins


First game: DC Defenders vs Seattle Dragons, Audi Field, Saturday, February 8, 2pm ET


Tampa Bay Vipers


Stadium: Raymond James Stadium


Head Coach: Marc Trestman. In 12 years as NFL OC: 1st in NFL scoring offense with 49ers (1995); 2nd with Raiders (2002), Bears (2013); 3rd with 49ers (1996).


First game: New York Guardians vs Tampa Bay Vipers, MetLife Stadium, Sunday, February 9, 2pm ET


Fantasy Fans


For those of you who are fantasy fans there's something for you too. The XFL has officially announced a partnership with FanDuel, making the fantasy site the "Official Fantasy Sports Partner" of the XFL.

The partnership will give FanDuel access to XFL data, official team and league logos as well as daily fantasy football contests.


Kip Levin, president, FanDuel Group, said: "By teaming up directly with the XFL in the league's inaugural season, we can work together to give our fantasy customers more ways to play, and XFL fans a new way to engage with the games."


Where to watch?


The XFL kicks off on Saturday 8 February 2020 with the inaugural game between the Seattle Dragons and DC Defenders starting at 2pm ET on abc.


For those in the US, coverage of the season is split between Fox, ESPN, abc and FS1, while those football fans abroad can subscribe to ESPN player for all their XFL needs.


If you’re not quite sold on the XFL yet, International fans can take advantage of the 7-day free trial of ESPN Player.






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