Football season isn't over...
We may have witnessed the end of the NFL with the Super Bowl last weekend, but football fans fear not! The XFL is back and it is better than ever - with a range of new rules aiming to make things even more entertaining than the big league.
Week 1 of the 2023 XFL season opened with the Vegas Vipers taking on the Arlington Renegades on Saturday, February 18. But the best showdown in the first set of matchups, was the St Louis Battlehawks vs San Antonio Brahmas game, which has become an 'instant classic' among the fans.
Battlehawks vs Brahmas: Wild Ending
After 45 minutes of punts and field goals, the fourth quarter of this matchup proved just how good the new XFL could be.
Thanks to the new rulings for extra points and onside kicks, the Battlehawks managed a 12-point comeback in just 3 minutes - including a touchdown, a three point conversion, a 4th&15 completion (instead of an onside kick) and a walk-off field goal to win. It doesn't get much crazier than that.
The Rock couldn’t have asked for a better XFL promotion than this Battlehawks vs Brahmas game. Instant classic. pic.twitter.com/dKnQefGMu4— karan (@905Kar) February 19, 2023
If there's one thing this has taught me, it's that no lead is safe in the XFL, so live betting could be quite a wild ride in this league.
The Rock's Speech
Let's be honest, Dwayne Johnson never has any trouble hyping up a crowd, but his speech at the XFL was something special.
For many of these players, it could be the last chance they get to show off their talents and make a bid for an NFL roster. Johnson reminded them of this, just moments before kick off on February 19 2023 and the realisation of how important this league is for young athletes, clearly hit home for fans and players alike.
Former NFL Players Show Out
Another timeless moment came in the Seattle Sea Dragons game, where two former NFL players linked up for one of the plays of the weekend.
Ex-Cowboys quarterback Ben DiNucci did his best Mahomes imitation, flipping the ball forward to former NFL All Pro, Josh Gordon, for a touchdown at the end of their very first drive.
DiNucci threw for 282 yards on 35-of-54 passing, while Gordon hauled in six catches for 74 yards and a score.
The XFL is already doing what it set out to do, in just a few games. NFL players who were dropped or deemed not-worthy of a spot in the league, can now put their talents on display for the world to see.
Don't be surprised if we see this year's XFL stars make a move to the NFL this summer...
Roughnecks Look Good Again
The 2020 season was a breeze for the Houston Roughnecks - when they finished the season undefeated, with a 5-0 record - and things were no different on Saturday.
The Roughnecks defense completely dominated the Guardians, logging 7 sacks on the night, with a whopping 4 solo sacks from linebacker Trent Harris.
The lockdown of Orlando's offense allowed Houston to erupt for 24 unanswered points, 21 of which came from four consecutive possessions in the first half alone.
Will the Roughnecks be as dominant this year or will someone finally put a loss on their record?
The XFL Mic'd Up
Now we've all seen the NFL's Mic'd Up mixes following each game week, but how about this for an upgrade...
During XFL games, fans will see live broadcasts of play calls being given from the sidelines, reactions from the coaches post-play and importantly, the live booth reviews, where you can hear exactly why a call is or is not given.
Every word is being recorded and it's like watching a Mic'd Up compilation in real time.
The XFL on ESPN broadcast shows the playcall being relayed from the offensive coordinator to the quarterback, who tells the rest of the offense. 🏈📺 pic.twitter.com/335iZBYS2L— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) February 18, 2023
On top of all that, you also get live interviews from players at half time and live interviews from coaches following scoring plays and drives.
The XFL is truly aiming to be an entertainment league first and so far, they're getting what they wanted.
Highlight of the Week
This one is an easy pick.
The new XFL rules seemed a bit uncertain, with many avid football fans wondering whether the changes would make or break the league's success. But any doubts were shattered on Sunday night, when the both a 3-point conversion and a 4th&15 completion completely turned the game on it's head in the space of just a few minutes.
Without these rules, the game would likely have ended with a knee, perhaps the most boring play in football. Instead, we witnessed an all-time comeback in the history of the XFL.
Who knows if we'll continue to see these alternative rules used by the more aggressive and adventurous coaches. Either way, this is easily the highlight of the week.
THE BATTLEHAWKS CONVERT ON 4TH AND 15 TO KEEP POSSESSION 😱 pic.twitter.com/uwwTbDlmX7— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 19, 2023
Full Week 1 XFL Results
Arlington Renegades 22 - 20 Las Vegas Vipers
Houston Roughnecks 33 - 12 Orlando Guardians
St. Louis Battlehawks 18 - 15 San Antonio Brahmas
D.C. Defenders 22 - 18 Seattle Sea Dragons
The 2023 XFL Schedule is set to deliver an alternative football league until May 13th, where the Championship Game will take place, so there's still plenty of football left to watch.
Who's your pick this year? And which players do you think will shine? Let us know on BestSportsOdds Twitter.