COLUMN: No controversy here: The four best UFL teams are in the playoffs

Each team has earned the right to play during Conference Championship weekend.
Each team has earned the right to play during Conference Championship weekend.

Last year in both the USFL and XFL, a few of the teams that made the playoffs left something to be desired.

In the USFL North Division, the top three teams all carried 4-6 records. The first two of those three made the playoffs, while the bottom two teams in the South Division were at least .500 at 5-5. They didn’t make the post-season. That led to a scenario where one of those 4-6 teams made the league championship game, losing to the dominant Birmingham Stallions by two scores.

In the XFL, 4-6 Arlington sneaked into the playoffs after finishing second in the South Division. Because both leagues took the top two teams in each division, regardless of record, that left out the 7-3 St. Louis Battlehawks, who lost out on the second playoff spot in the North Division on a tie-breaker technicality. Arlington did manage to win the championship over the DC Defenders, but that didn’t necessarily ease the ire of Kaw Nation.

Fortunately, there are no such issues in the UFL’s first season. Any way you measure it, the four best teams in the league made the playoffs. In fact, they’re the only four teams to hold a winning record in the regular season. The Birmingham Stallions have continued to reign supreme in the spring football stratosphere, finishing 9-1 and topping the oddsmakers’ lists of betting favorites to win it all.

The Michigan Panthers have cycled through quarterback after quarterback, with many (myself included) expecting that to catch up to the team at some point. However, Mike Nolan’s squad has continued to ascend, getting stronger as the season has progressed. Led by a ferocious defense, the Panthers took the Stallions to the limit in week 10 and showed that the USFL Conference Championship game won’t be a cakewalk for the defending USFL champs.

After missing the playoffs last year with a 7-3 record, the Battlehawks sit atop the XFL Conference standings with the very same record. They fended off a challenge from the San Antonio Brahmas last week for that throne. An improved defense and a healthy AJ McCarron will be key to St. Louis making a championship run. Oh, and the finale is set to be played in their home stadium, The Dome at America’s Center. Good luck to their opponent if the ‘Hawks make it that far.

Under new management, the San Antonio Brahmas took a big leap forward from 2023. Also sporting a 7-3 record, the Brahmas dealt the Stallions their only loss of the season and the Wade Phillips-led defense is statistically the best in the league. While the offense has been inconsistent, they have the talent to put up yards and points in any game.

The other four teams, quite frankly, didn’t even come close. Nobody is back-dooring their way into the playoffs this year. Each team has earned the right to play during Conference Championship weekend. It’s the four best teams in the league battling it out to be the two that will appear in the inaugural UFL Championship game. And that’s the way it should be.

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