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:
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.
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."
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.
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
After Houston fell to the Texas Rangers in Game 7 of the ALCS, the national media couldn't wait to pile on the Astros, their dynasty, and fanbase. A perfect example of this came from Dan Clark, who said the Astros choked or cheated in every season outside of 2022.
The Houston Astros have been great for nine years, but how will history look back at them, winning it all just once?
'15 - ALDS choke
'16 - Missed playoffs
'17 - Cheated
'18 - ALCS choke
'19 - World Series choke
'20 - ALCS choke
'21 - World Series choke
'22 - 💍
'23 - ALCS choke
— Dan Clark (@DanClarkSports) October 24, 2023
Clearly, this take is totally ridiculous. Every time a team loses, it doesn't mean they choked. Sometimes the other team is better, and you just got beat. However, if you asked most fans, they would probably tell you the Astros had some great opportunities and weren't able to cash in.
So, just for fun, let's go through Dan's list and discuss if he has a point. And these are just my opinions below. I'm sure plenty of Astros fans will feel differently, and that's fine. John and I don't agree on all of these in the video above, so be sure to watch for the full discussion.
With that disclaimer out of the way, off we go.
2015: These were the baby Astros. Nobody expected them to get to the division series against the Royals. Houston went 70-92 the previous season, so this was a big jump in 2015. They lost to the Royals in 5 games in the ALDS and Kansas City went on to win the World Series over the Mets, taking the series 4 games to 1. The Astros did lead this series 2-1, but lost Games 4 and 5 pretty convincingly. Not a choke.
2016: Didn't even make the playoffs, further proving 2015 wasn't a choke. This team wasn't ready yet. They exceeded expectations in 2015 and took a step back in 2016. Not a choke.
2017: Won the World Series. While Dan will say it doesn't count because they cheated, I say, at least they won. Houston fans are well aware the Dodgers and Yankees had their own style of funny business going on in the video rooms, too. At least the Astros didn't cheat AND lose that year. They won the title so clearly, not a choke.
2018: Boston won the most games in baseball during the regular season (108). They won the ALCS 4 games to 1 over Houston and went on to win the World Series. The ALCS series wasn't close, and Jose Altuve had knee surgery immediately following the season. Boston was later punished by MLB for cheating in 2018. Not a choke.
2019: He might have a point here. This was the best roster the Astros ever had in my opinion. Houston never won a home game in this World Series. Heading home with a 3-2 lead in the series, the Astros were unable to close the deal against the Nationals (sounds familiar). The Astros won 107 games in the regular season, more than any other team. The top of their rotation was Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Zack Greinke. They choked.
2020: This was the weird covid season. The Astros didn't have a winning record in the regular season and got down 3-0 to the Rays in the ALCS. Houston won three straight and lost in Game 7. Both Justin Verlander and Yordan Alvarez were injured and unavailable that year. Not a choke.
2021: The Braves were just better and won the World Series in 6 games. Atlanta hammered Houston 7-0 in Game 6, securing the series. Lance McCullers was the ace of this squad and hurt his arm in the ALDS. Verlander didn't pitch in 2021. Not a choke.
2022: Astros win the World Series in 6 games against Philly.
2023: This one I could be convinced either way. I lean to it not being a choke because this team barely made the playoffs, winning just 90 games. They finished with the same record as the Rangers, and won the division because of head-to-head record. The Astros were down 2-0 in the series to start.
However, they did return to Houston up 3-2 needing only 1 win in 2 games to advance. But once again, the Astros couldn't win a game at home, and lost the series in 7 games. They also went 2-14 with runners in scoring position in Game 7, so that looks pretty bad. Inconsistency plagued this team all season, and it showed up again in the ALCS.
I'm willing to say the 2019 World Series against the Nationals was a choke for the reasons I listed above. And I'm kinda on the fence about 2023. The Rangers were the better team for most of the regular season, but not winning 1 game at home in the ALCS is hard to ignore.
Maybe you can convince me one way or the other in the comments! Go 'Stros!