The NFL season is officially over and the Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl champions for the first time in 50 years. Now it’s time for sports fans to turn their attention to the NBA, NHL, and college basketball seasons, which are all in full swing.
But for some, there’s never enough football. Luckily for those folks, the XFL is here.
The Vince McMahon-led league ran for one season back in 2001. It was a wild ride, complete with weird rules, WWE flair, and surprisingly good football. Now it’s back with more off-the-wall rule changes, albeit less wrestling influence.
There are eight teams for the XFL’s reboot:
- Dallas Renegades
- DC Defenders
- Houston Roughnecks
- Los Angeles Wildcats
- New York Guardians
- Seattle Dragons
- St. Louis Battlehawks
- Tampa Bay Vipers
So who should you root for? Here’s a guide to pick an XFL favorite:
For the fan who roots for the hometown team
Three of the four most populated cities in the United States (New York, Los Angeles, and Houston) have an XFL franchise. The other five cities are all have at least a few hundred thousand people too. So even though there are only eight teams, a big chunk of the U.S. population won’t have to think too hard about which team to support.
Even if you’re not in one of those metropolitan areas, one Reddit user created a chart that can help you find your nearest XFL franchise:
It isn’t a perfect fit for everyone. Most people in Phoenix probably won’t jump on the LA Wildcats bandwagon, and there likely aren’t many in Charlotte who feel kinship with DC Defenders fans. International football watchers might not care at all about the U.S. geography of the franchises.
Luckily for those who don’t have an XFL team anywhere nearby, there are other ways to pick a favorite.
For the uniform-loving fan
This is a bit subjective, but here’s SB Nation’s definitive rankings of each XFL team’s uniforms:
The Battlehawks nailed it with a look that’s both classic and innovative, highlighted by an oversized logo that stretches across the top of the helmet. The Defenders have a boring red-and-white look that’s straight out of an awful State Farm commercial.
For the “oh hey, I know that name” fan
There’s nobody with anything near Tim Tebow-level fame in the XFL ranks. But there are a few players who built a name for themselves in the college ranks, even if they couldn’t cut it in the NFL. Here are a couple notables from each team:
- Landry Jones, quarterback
- Cameron Artis-Payne, running back
Ben Roethlisberger’s longtime backup was cut loose by the Steelers in 2018 after five seasons. Now Jones is arguably the face of the XFL after being the first player signed by the league. He’ll be joined in the backfield by Artis-Payne, a former Auburn and Panthers running back.
- Cardale Jones, quarterback
- Matt Elam, safety
Jones was a national championship-winning quarterback at Ohio State, so — if nothing else — he’s got a special place in the heart of Buckeyes fans forever. Elam was a Ravens first-round pick in 2013.
- Sammie Coates, wide receiver
- Kony Ealy, defensive end
Coates was drafted by the Steelers to be the starter opposite Antonio Brown, but that never came to fruition. He did record 435 yards and two touchdowns in 2016, though. Ealy had 14 sacks in three seasons with the Panthers and saved his best ever game for Super Bowl 50, when he recorded three sacks and an interception.
Los Angeles Wildcats
- Josh Johnson, quarterback
- Tre McBride, wide receiver
Johnson bounced around the NFL as a backup for about a decade and got four games of starting action with Washington in 2018. The Lions reportedly tried to sign Johnson in November, but were blocked from doing so by the XFL. McBride was a receiver and returner who spent most of time in the NFL with the Titans and Bears.
New York Guardians
- Matt McGloin, quarterback
- Joe Horn Jr., wide receiver
McGloin spent four seasons as the Raiders’ backup after earning the Burlsworth Trophy (nation’s best player who began as a walk-on) at Penn State. Horn was briefly with the Ravens, but it’s his father’s lengthy career with the Saints that makes his name stand out.
- Keenan Reynolds, wide receiver
- Will Sutton, defensive tackle
Reynolds was a star at Navy, where he finished with 31 passing touchdowns and 88 rushing touchdowns. Sutton was the back-to-back Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year while at Arizona State.
St. Louis Battlehawks
- Christine Michael, running back
- Matt Jones, running back
Michael was a second-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and Jones was a third-rounder in 2015. Michael bounced on and off the Seahawks roster a few times, and scored seven touchdowns for the team in 2016. Jones scored seven touchdowns in his two seasons with Washington. Now the two will team up in the Battlehawks backfield.
Tampa Bay Vipers
- Aaron Murray, quarterback
- Quinton Flowers, quarterback/running back
Murray is still the SEC’s all-time leader in passing yards after throwing for 13,166 yards at Georgia. He’s also the brother of a winner of The Bachelorette. Flowers was a prolific dual-threat quarterback at South Florida who wasn’t able to produce as an NFL running back. The Vipers have him listed at both positions.
For the fair-weather fan
There’s nothing with wanting to root for a winner — especially when you don’t have any ties to an XFL team to begin with. It’s tough to tell which team will come out on top, but here are the preseason championship odds, via DraftKings:
- Renegades: +350
- Guardians: +400
- Vipers: +450
- Defenders: +500
- Wildcats: +650
- Roughnecks: +900
- Battlehawks: +1000
- Dragons: +1200
The Renegades have an experienced quarterback in Jones and former BCS National Championship-winning coach in Bob Stoops. No team is way ahead of the pack, though.
For the “you pick for me” fan
Congratulations, you’re a fan of the St. Louis Battlehawks.