2024 UFL Week 1 Power Rankings

UFL Power Rankings

The UFL kicked off this weekend, and we were treated to four high-quality football games for the first time in months to complement our Easter Weekend. Here’s a breakdown of how teams fare after one week of play.

Birmingham Stallions

1. Birmingham Stallions (1-0)

  • Preseason Ranking: No. 1

The back-to-back USFL champion Stallions picked up right where they left off last season, defeating the reigning XFL champion Arlington Renegades, 27-14. Despite throwing an interception on his first drive, former Ole Miss standout quarterback Matt Corral looked solid the rest of the way in his first start with 201 passing yards and one touchdown on a 57.1% completion rate for Birmingham. 

As Head Coach Skip Holtz and his coaching staff have done over the past two years, the Stallions once again proved their ability to adjust in-game. Birmingham entered halftime tied 11-11 with the Renegades but were able to clean everything up and outscore Arlington 16-3 in the second half. 

Memphis Showboats

2. Memphis Showboats (1-0)

  • Preseason ranking: No. 5

The Showboats got off to a quick start in their season opener against the Roughnecks. At one point, Memphis led 15-0 in the second quarter. However, they allowed Houston to get back into the game during the second half with turnovers and missed opportunities.

The Showboats closed the deal in the end, winning 18-12. I believe we only saw flashes of Coach DeFillipo’s squad’s full potential on Sunday – with most of those flashes coming during the first half. As we saw on Sunday, his team is full of playmakers on both ends, like wide receiver Daewood Davis and safety Christian McFarland. Ideally, Memphis will be more consistent in all four quarters as the season progresses.

XFL San Antonio Brahmas

3. San Antonio Brahmas (1-0)

  • Preseason Ranking: No. 6

The Brahmas were hefty underdogs entering their opening contest versus the Defenders but were able to dictate the tone from the start in what turned out to be a 27-12 victory. Chase Garbers proved why he was named the starter with his 198-passing-yard and three-touchdown performance on a 74.1% completion rate. Jontre Kirklin (eight catches, 61 yards, one touchdown) was expected to be Garbers’ top target during the game, and just that he was. Garbers’ and Kirklin’s connection will be an exciting one to watch throughout the season. 

Wade Phillips’ defense, which I had high hopes for entering this matchup, held 2023 XFL Offensive Player of the Year Jordan Ta’amu and the Defenders offense to just four field goals throughout the game in San Antonio’s 27-12 victory. 

If the Brahmas can continue to play how they played against last season’s XFL runner-ups, they will be in a good spot.

Michigan Panthers

4. Michigan Panthers (1-0)

  • Preseason Ranking: No. 8

Against the Battlehawks, it came down to the powerful leg of Jake Bates for the Panthers. He reportedly never kicked a field goal in high school, college, or the NFL, yet he drilled a 64-yard field goal to walk it off for his team.

Michigan’s defense impressed against a St. Louis offense that looked out of sync for most of the game. Safety Kai Nacua had arguably the best individual performance of the week by any UFL defensive player, recording 11 tackles, two tackles for loss, and one sack in the victory.

Offensively, Mike Nolan’s squad definitely has some questions to answer, but the good news is that there are still nine more games left to sort it out. 

XFL St. Louis Battlehawks

5. St. Louis Battlehawks (0-1)

  • Preseason Ranking: No. 2

The Battlehawks didn’t quite live up to their title as one of the favorites to win it all against the Panthers.

Offensively, there were multiple dropped passes and offensive line lapses that proved costly. A.J. McCarron was able to manufacture some touchdown drives in the fourth quarter of a close game but gave the Panthers final possession of the ball (and we all know what happened with that). Meanwhile, the defense held its own for most of the game but failed to hold Michigan during key drives.  

Despite not making the playoffs, last year’s 7-3 Battlehawks were undoubtedly a good football team. Even they grew and developed as the season progressed, and that’s my expectation for this team. By no means should anyone be panicking after losing on a 64-yard field goal.

XFL D.C. Defenders

6. D.C. Defenders (0-1)

  • Preseason Ranking: No. 3

As I expected, the Defenders’ offense struggled in its first game of the season against the Brahmas. This was mainly because of the changes we saw year-over-year in D.C.’s offensive skill position corps (e.g., All-XFL tailback Abram Smith – injured, All-XFL wide receiver Lucky Jackson – NFL, wide receiver Chris Blair – NFL; tailback Cam’Ron Harris – new starter, wide receiver Keke Coutee – signed, wide receiver Kelvin Harmon – signed). The connection and chemistry between Jordan Ta’amu and his receivers will only improve as the season progresses.

During the game, Ta’amu threw for a UFL-high 235 yards, but finished with a 55.6% completion rate as D.C. scored just 12 points in the loss. His team’s matchup versus the Roughnecks next weekend is one they should look forward to. 

Arlington Renegades

7. Arlington Renegades (0-1)

  • Preseason Ranking: No. 4

The Renegades failed in the first task of their quest to repeat as champions. But if there’s any silver lining, the team they played—the Stallions—is probably the best team they will play all regular season. Plus, Arlington was able to go neck-and-neck with Birmingham up until halftime before things seemingly unraveled.

Don’t consider the Renegades’ championship run from last season to be a one-hit wonder quite yet. Saturday’s test against the Battlehawks will be another chance for Luis Perez and Arlington to prove themselves as legitimate contenders.

XFL Houston Roughnecks

8. Houston Roughnecks (0-1)

  • Preseason Ranking: No. 7

The Roughnecks started sloppy against the Showboats on Sunday but got things under control by halftime. Despite holding Memphis to just three points during the second half, Houston couldn’t capitalize offensively in the loss.

I like what the Roughnecks have on the defensive side, led by linebacker Reuben Foster, who totaled a game-high six tackles on Sunday, but the offense is concerning and will need some tinkering to be effective.

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