XFL Week 5 power rankings: Quarterback change fuels Guardians' winning streak

It’s the midway point of the XFL season and there’s already a hierarchy of teams.

The Houston Roughnecks hold at least a two-game lead over everyone else and continue to be the league’s only undefeated squad. And while there may not be much competition in the Western Conference, it’s packed together in the East.

Three teams, the New York Guardians, the D.C. Defenders, and the St. Louis BattleHawks, are all tied atop the conference at 3-2.

That means that the second half of the rebooted XFL league year could potentially showcase a back-and-forth finish where playoff spots in the East are up for grabs.

Here are the Week 5 power rankings:

1. Houston Roughnecks (5-0)

The offense keeps rolling behind quarterback P.J. Walker and receiver Cam Phillips, but Houston isn’t without its set of flaws. Coach June Jones has installed an offensive system in which points are plentiful. The only significant blemishes have been stretches of carelessness with the ball, and periods of defensive lapses that have kept games close. Still, the Roughnecks are easily the best team in the XFL.

Last week: No. 1

2. St. Louis BattleHawks (3-2)

They lost their Week 5 game on the road against the Defenders. But St. Louis remains in the second spot because of a sound running game that’s anchored in coach Jonathan Hayes’ scheme that is heavy in run-pass options and a steady defense. D.C. pressured quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, who been steady this season, but he couldn’t come up with the big play when needed.

Last week: No. 2

WINNERS, LOSERS:Time to be concerned about Defenders’ Cardale Jones

3. D.C. Defenders (3-2)

Coach Pep Hamilton’s offense got a spark in the first quarter when he benched struggling quarterback Cardale Jones in favor of Tyree Jackson. After the game, Hamilton maintained that Jones would remain D.C.’s starter. But given the way Jackson took care of the ball and how his ability to run extended plays and diversified the offense, maybe he should give Jackson a longer look.

Last week: No. 4

4. New York Guardians (3-2)

Guardians quarterback Luis Perez has led New York to two consecutive wins.

Give coach Kevin Gilbride some credit. The Guardian offense looked moribund after their second and third games. But after inserting former third-string passer Luis Perez at quarterback, New York has won two in a row. The team’s defense is the strength and can carry the team as long as Perez manages the offense with efficiency. A developing rapport with receivers Mekale McKay and Colby Pearson could portend a promising second half.

Last week: No. 5

5. L.A. Wildcats (2-3)

If coach Winston Moss’ squad had consistency, it might be one of the better teams in the XFL. The Wildcats came from behind and erased a 17-point deficit to beat the Vipers 41-34. In the process, the Wildcats slowed down an offense that entered Week 5 ranked at the top in rushing, and saw quarterback Josh Johnson bolster his case as one of the top passers in the league. Again, if they could only stack performances like this …

Last week: No. 6

6.Dallas Renegades (2-3)

Without Landry Jones at quarterback, Dallas’ outfit imploded and scored 12 points in a loss against the Guardians. This is now a concerning trend: coach Bob Stoops’ squad simply cannot avoid costly turnovers, no matter who is under center.

Last week: No. 3

7. Tampa Bay Vipers (1-4)

Tampa Bay was coming off of its first victory and rushed out to a 17-0 lead. It boasts one of the top rushing units in the XFL. But turnovers and drives that stalled allowed Los Angeles to crawl back into the game. Converting just three of six trips inside the 20-yard line was also a fatal flaw.

Last week: No. 7

8. Seattle Dragons (1-4)

Finally, coach Jim Zorn opted to start B.J. Daniels at quarterback. Unfortunately for Seattle, the results were mostly the same. How does a team convert 47% of third-down attempts, convert all three trips into the red zone, win the turnover margin +2, and still lose? Playing the best team in the league was part of it, but yet another dismal second half of football doomed the Dragons once more. Seattle was outscored 18-9 in the final two periods.

Last week: No. 8

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