There’s always been that feeling after the Super Bowl that the next sign of football is so far away. Well, two months of the offseason has been shortened as a new league is about to get underway this weekend.
It was a professional football league that was around for just one season, 19 years ago. The XFL makes its return this weekend with a new eight-team league – split into a Eastern and Western conference.
Owned by Vince McMahon, but that’s about as far as the similarities come to the league that folded back in 2001. Commissioner Oliver Luck claimed there is “nothing in common” as the league starts up just one week after Super Bowl LIV.
Eight teams, two conferences, one Championship
It’s going to be strange for many football fans. What to expect, who to support and will the standard be as high as it is in the NFL?
Without giving the XFL a chance, you just won’t know. However, that break between February and September is a long one and this new league will take up 12 of those weeks – so more football.
There will be 10 weeks of the regular season, a Playoff round, where the top two teams in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference compete for a place in the Championship game on April 26.
The league have opted for big stadiums for its games, which include MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Giants and Jets, Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks.
The teams competing in the Eastern Conference are; the Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats and the Seattle Dragons.
In the Western Conference, the DC Defenders, New York Guardians, St. Louis Battlehawks and Tampa Bay Vipers will contest for a place in the Playoffs.
New rules to understand ahead of the XFL launch
To help you understand some of the new rules that will come into play from this weekend, we’ve highlights the three key ones to avoid you thinking ‘what is going on here?’.
Firstly, kickoffs will be very different in the XFL. The kicker will boot the ball from his own 25-yard line, but he will be alone. The other 10 players will be down on the opposition 35-yard line, with the returning team just five yards away.
When the ball is caught by the returner, players will be allowed to move. This rule has been brought in to make it safer and avoid high-speed collisions.
Next, teams won’t be allowed to kick an extra point after scoring a touchdown. Instead, they have three options; go for one point from the two-yard line, two points from the five-yard line or three points from the 10-yard line.
Essentially, a team can score nine points from one scoring play, which means a nine-point game, which would be a two possession game in the NFL, would be just one in the XFL.
This last rule is probably the most exciting one from the league. It brings a new lease of life to overtime and doesn’t allow one touchdown to win the game.
Unlike the NFL, where a touchdown would end the game, the XFL has opted for a shootout format in overtime, similar to a penalty shootout in soccer.
Each team will get five plays to score from the five-yard line and whichever team scored more time wins the game. The league wanted to rule out a team getting the ball, driving down the field straight away and ending the game.