Breaking down the new league

XFL to feature unique set of rules

The rules for XFL are intended to make the game more exciting for us as fans to watch and safer for the players on the field. As you'll see, they are set up to make this league an offense heavy league. Be prepared for a fast-paced game, speedy players and some exhausted defenses. For the full list of rules, you can check out the XFL homepage. I'll list a few of the main ones below.

The season opens for the Houston Roughnecks on Saturday at TDECU Stadium. Here is what you can expect:

PUNT

The most talked about rule that the XFL has is the kickoff/punt rule. How is this better for us at home? Less commercial time! No, but really… Players are not allowed to leave the line of scrimmage during a punt until after the kick. Out of bounds or kicks that end up in the end zone will be marked at 35yd line or the spot the ball went out of bounds at. This would essentially lead to more excitement, better known as… GOING FOR IT ON FOURTH DOWN.

DOUBLE FORWARD PASSING

This rule is one of my personal favorites that the XFL has tweaked. It's pretty self-explanatory. If your team completes a forward pass behind the line of scrimmage, they may attempt a second forward pass. Of course, the ball cannot cross the line of scrimmage. Hi, insert trick plays here.

POINTS

After a touchdown, the team has three options. A potential 1 point from the 2yd line, 2 points from the 5yd line or a ballsy 3 points from the 10yd line. The best part? No kicking an extra point. Are you having fun yet?

TOE DRAG SWAG

We can kiss this goodbye. The XFL is taking us back to college ball. Players only have to have one foot in bounds. This league should really be fun, especially for Saints fans… less ways for officials to "mess up."

TIME

XFL's play clock has 24 seconds versus the 40 seconds we're used to in the NFL. The pressure to call plays will be more intense. I can name a few NFL coaches/players who would not succeed in this league but that's unimportant. Each team's timeouts will be limited to 2 one minute timeouts per half making that 1 less than NFL and college. Halftime will also be shortened to 10 minutes versus the NFL's 12 minutes. These small changes affect the game more than you think. This gives you, as fans, more actual field action.

OVERTIME

This one is a little more confusing. Probably because we've never seen this in football. There will be five rounds. Yes, rounds… Teams will alternate single play possessions. Each round will display one offensive play per team. Possessions will start at the opposing teams 5yd line. The offense will have one shot to score. You guessed it, the guys with the most points after all five rounds win. Simple, right? Eh… I highly suggest reading more on the team's website.

For the full list and explanations of the new rules you can visit the XFL's homepage



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The Astros are a better story than the Braves. Period. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

For the past few days, we've heard and read baseball analysts predicting who'll win the World Series, our Houston Astros or the Atlanta Braves. It's usually the same tired cliche ... the Astros (or Braves) … "in six."

For the record, the World Series has been decided "in six" only four times in the past quarter-century.

First, these experts are no better than you, me or a chimp hurling feces at photos of Orbit or Chief Noc-A-Homa. Predictions on sports shows are just a time-killer before the hosts turn it over to the midday guy.

Those pre-game, former-player hosts on Fox, TBS and MLB Network couldn't be more boring and just plain silly. They're trying too hard. A-Rod is creepy, Big Papi isn't funny and Frank Thomas just sits there worrying about his hormone levels. I can't even name the host on Fox. On top of that, they were wrong on the Red Sox beating the Astros.

I remember walking into the living room where my father was watching a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns. The Browns scored and my father pumped his fist, "All right!" I asked him, "Why are you rooting for the Browns? We live in New Jersey."

He said, "I always root for the team farther east." It made as much sense as anything else he ever said. Another time he was watching a political debate between candidates for mayor of New York City. One of the candidates said the word "either" and pronounced it "eye-ther." My father was put off by his uppity pronunciation and said, "That's it, I can't vote for that guy now."

I thought, how about the fact we don't live in New York City and there's zero chance you're registered to vote anywhere, anyhow?

For the record, Pittsburgh is farther east than Cleveland. My father was never a "I'll take geography for $600" guy.

Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale reportedly has bet $3.35 million on the Astros to win the World Series and stands to win $35.6 million if they do. It would be the biggest haul in the history of legal sports gambling in America.

Mattress Mack told the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "I will never in my life bet against the Houston Astros. It's loyalty. And I'm loyal to the Houston Astros."

It's as good a reason as any. I will bet you $3.25 dollars that Mattress Mack can't name the Astros centerfielder.

Here's my World Series prediction, and if you've been following SportsMap you know I've been riding the Astros since spring training.

The Astros in 4. You know why the Astros will sweep? It's because they're just gonna. No analytical rhyme or reason. They're just gonna.

The Astros are a better story than the Braves. Just like it took a whole year before the Chicago Black Sox were found guilty and punished for throwing the 1919 World Series, it took years for the Astros' cheating ways of 2017 to be prosecuted. This is the Astros first venture onto baseball's grandest stage since the sign-stealing scandal went public.

The Astros are on a revenge mission to prove they can win fair and square. The team, especially the five holdovers from 2017, are seeking, not forgiveness, but vindication and respect. And they're reveling in wearing black hats.

The Astros are a curious lot. Will Dusty Baker, a toothpick-chewing, surgical glove-wearing "cool 72-year-old" be back next year? Does owner Jim Crane have the business testicles to let clutch-hitting team leader Carlos Correa sign with another team? What to do with high-priced veterans who haven't helped a lick this season?

In their own villainous way, the Astros are the glamour team in the 2021 World Series. Baseball needs a headline-grabbing Series to get back on track as the national pastime (although that door probably closed decades ago). A dismal, dull affair (credit: Jagger-Richards) with the Braves winning is the last thing baseball needs.

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