After a tumultuous offseason, week 1 of the UFL is in the books. Let’s dive into the post-week 1 power rankings. There’s a lot to unpack. The back-to-back USFL Champions, the Birmingham Stallions won the meeting between the 2023 XFL Champion, the Arlington Renegades. USFL teams won in both of the meetings between an XFL and USFL team. The Michigan Panthers pulled off the win over the St. Louis Battlehawks with a 64-yard field goal from Jake Bates.

#1 Birmingham Stallions (1-0)

Week 1 result: Defeated Arlington on the road 27-14.

The Birmingham Stallions started off the UFL opener with a win over the Arlington Renegades. The Stallions currently have all the bragging rights now having defeated last season’s XFL Champions in their own building. The back-to-back USFL Champions are the current team to beat.

Birmingham’s passing game looked good in Matt Corral’s first professional start. The Ole Miss product completed 12 of his 21 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown. His highlight of the game was likely a well-placed ball for a 39-yard touchdown to Deon Cain with 3 seconds left in the half.

The offensive line played well for Birmingham who displayed a healthy 1-2 punch at running back. CJ Marable rushed 18 times for 67 yards and Ricky Person Jr. rushed 13 times for 31 yards. Birmingham’s 2nd string QB took some reps as well and showed off his speed rushing for 52 yards on 3 rushes. Half of the top 6 leaders in UFL rushing yards currently are Stallions players.

The Stallion’s defense made life difficult for Arlington as they often pressured Luis Perez although his composure often limited the effects of it with defensive end Jonathan Garvin leading the way in pressures getting in on a sack and adding 5 pressures. Birmingham’s pass defense looks solid as well. Cornerback Lorenzo Burns saw 4 targets his way and only allowed 1 reception which was for 5 yards.

The Stallions face the Michigan Panthers in Detroit on Sunday.

#2 San Antonio Brahmas (1-0)

Week 1 result: Defeated DC at home 27-12

The Brahmas opened up their season with a dominant victory in front of their own fans. Quarterback Chase Garbers was highly efficient in his first professional start as he completed 19 of his 25 passes for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions.

Jontre Kirklin led the team in receiving yards and demonstrated some good footwork as well at times making defenders miss after the catch. Kirklin caught 8 passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. Runningback Anthony McFarland Jr. had a good game rushing 9 times for 47 yards (5.2 average) and a 28-yard reception for a touchdown.

San Antonio’s defense put on a clinic holding DC to 12 points which all came from field goals. They only allowed 42 rushing yards in what was a successful group project that saw many defensive players involved in a run stop at different points of the game. Additionally, the Bahamas generated the most quarterback pressures in week 1 putting Jordan Ta’amu in difficult situations. Defensive end Wyatt Ray recorded 2 sacks and 2 total pressures.

Safety Christian McFarland 

One of the most exciting plays of the game was when San Antonio faked a punt and had punter Brad Wing throw a pass to center Alex Mollette which resulted in a 40-yard touchdown.

The Brahmas will travel to Memphis to take on the 1-0 Showboats on Saturday.

#3 Michigan Panthers (1-0)

Week 1 result: Defeated St. Louis at home 18-16

The Panthers are coming off a dramatic week 1 victory that saw Jake Bates kick a 64-yard field goal to take the lead with 3 seconds left and ultimately win them the game.

“Man, it’s amazing to be 1-0. To bring the first win of the UFL season back to Detroit.” Panthers linebacker Noah Dawkins stated in the tunnel after the win. “You know our fans been here for us through thick and thin. They were here late in the season last year. We just want to come back and bring that energy and bring a W to the city.”

The Panthers’ defense played an excellent game as they held St. Louis to 261 total yards. The Battlehawks had a lot of returning dangerous weapons in their passing offense which was the most efficient of any XFL or USFL team last season. Safety Kai Nacua was highly impactful making his presence felt all over the field and leading the team in tackles with 11. Cornerbacks Nate Brooks and Keith Gipson both played well in difficult circumstances such as certain plays late in the game when the Battlehawks’ offensive line was providing their quarterback with an extended period of time to find a receiver.

The run defense was also good for the Panthers which was expected as Wayne Gallman was held to 3.1 yards per carry on 13 rushes. Defensive tackles Daniel Wise and Garett Marino were both involved in 3 run stops. Linebackers Noah Dawkins and Frank Ginda both finished the day with 4 tackles.

On offense, newcomer running back Wes Hills made a significant contribution. Hills led the USFL in rushing yards last season and is the UFL rushing leader after 1 week. He rushed 11 times for 85 yards averaging 7.7 yards per carry thanks to some explosive runs in the 4th quarter.

EJ Perry completed 12 of his 24 passes for 176 yards with 2 interceptions. The Panthers will hope for more efficiency in their passing game moving forward. In the Panthers playoff loss last year Perry had 370 passing yards and 2 touchdowns indicating a high ceiling. Perry did rush for 17 yards and 2 touchdowns in week 1.

The Panthers will be at home again for week 2 as they host the Birmingham Stallions on Sunday.

4. St. Louis Battlehawks (0-1)

Week 1 result: Lost to Michigan on the road 16-18

The St. Louis Battlehawks will look to bounce back against the Arlington Renegades at home Saturday night. The Battlehaks were stunned by a 64-yard field goal to hand them a loss on the road in Detroit to open their season.

Quarterback A.J. McCarron was efficient against Michigan completing 24 of his 37 (64.8%) passes for 216 yards and 2 touchdowns. He averaged 5.8 yards per attempt in week 1 which lands behind his 2023 average of 7.3 yards per attempt but the pass coverage was quite good from Michigan. He played a responsible game in which he did not take unnecessary risks forcing passes.

Receiver Marcell Ateman was highly impressive as he led the team in receiving yards as he caught 6 of his 7 targets for 60 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Jake Sutherland had 3 receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown. 

The Battlehawks defense played well and did a good job limiting Panthers receivers from getting open. Cornerback Brandon Sebastian had good coverage on 2 deep balls that fell incomplete in the 1st quarter. Qwynnterrio Cole and Mike Rose both had an interception.

Battlehawks fans will hope to see running back Wayne Gallman break the run game open in week 2 at home against the Renegades.

5. Arlington Renegades (0-1)

Week 1 result: Lost to Birmingham at home 27-14

Arlington opened up their season at home with a loss in what was a matchup between last year’s XFL Champions and the back-to-back USFL Champion. The Renegades fell to the Birmingham Stallions 14-27.

Quarterback Luis Perez played admirably and demonstrated good composure in the face of an effective pass rush presented by the Stallions. Perez completed 19 of his 28 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown with an interception. The longest passing play went to Isaiah Winstead for a 51-yard touchdown. Winstead finished 2nd in yards with 60 over 2 receptions. Tight end Sal Cannella was 2nd with 4 catches for 49 yards.

The Renegades rushing offense was kept in check in week 1 as Leddie Brown rushed 8 times for 30 yards (3.8 average) and De’Veon Smith rushed 7 times for 17 yards (2.4 average). Arlington will need to a higher level of play from their offensive line in protecting their QB and making holes for their running backs to have a reasonable shot at another championship this season.

There were some positives on defense for the Arlington in week 1. Defensive tackle Jalen Redmond was involved in 4 run stops. Jamal Carter played a pretty solid game at safety. Overall the Stallions offense was too much for Arlington however as the Renegades allowed 397 total yards which was over 100 more yards allowed than any other team in week 1.

The Renegades will travel to St. Louis to take on the Battlehawks on Saturday in what will be a very energetic environment.

6. Memphis Showboats (1-0)

Week 1 result: Defeated Houston on the road 18-12

Despite the Memphis Showboats opening their season with a win I have them on the bottom half of the power rankings due to some glaring issues on display in week 1. According to Pro Football Focus Case Cookus was pressured on 15 of his dropbacks. Cookus was also hit 11 times. Cookus was dealing with injuries for portions of last season. He simply needs to be protected better.

Cookus completed 23 of his 40 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown with an interception. Oftentimes he did a good job avoiding pressure and also added 16 rushing yards on 4 rushes.

The run game really struggled despite Memphis having Darius Victor joining the team. Last year, Victor averaged 5.5 yards per carry and racked up 551 rushing yards over 10 games with the New Jersey Generals. This past weekend he rushed 10 times for only 3 yards. Memphis was unable to create any holes up the middle and the run game was absolutely smothered by Houston.

The positive for Memphis is their defense played a really strong game. They held Houston to just 174 yards of total offense. Memphis’ defense scored as many touchdowns as they allowed which was 1. Early in the game cornerback Kyree Woods forced a fumble which was recovered by Christian McFarland and ran back for a touchdown. Defensive lineman Dillon Faamatau made a positive impact with 2 run stops and a fumble recovery.

The Showboats will take on the San Antonio Brahmas this Saturday in Memphis. They will need to get their offensive line play straightened out in order to have reasonable expectations to continue winning.

7. DC Defenders (0-1)

Week 1 result: Lost to San Antonio on the road 12-27

The DC Defenders, Memphis Showboats, and Houston Roughnecks all had a similar problem with their offense in week 1 and that was struggling to protect their quarterback and establish the run. Not a good recipe.

Jordan Ta’amu was given an impossible task in week 1. According to PFF, the 2023 XFL Offensive Player of the Year was pressured on 16 of his dropbacks which was more than any other quarterback in week 1. Ta’amu did still manage to make some plays in week 1 completing 25 of his 45 passes for 235 yards with an interception that came late in the game.

The point of emphasis in this game for DC is struggles from the offensive line. At one point one of DC’s offensive linemen allowed a sack which was negated by a penalty. The very next play that same player allowed a sack again. DC even had a touchdown taken away due to a false start from a lineman, then after the play he got ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct.

DC also struggled to get the run game going as Cam’Ron Harris rushed 8 times for 21 yards (2.6 average).

Defensive end Malik Fisher really stood out in the game getting involved in 4 run stops and generating a knockdown finishing the day with 7 tackles. He also had 2 QB hurries by my count. DC allowed 270 total yards of offense in week 1 which saw Chase Garbers have the highest QBR in that week against them on his way to passing for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Matt McCrane had one of the best days among kickers in week 1 as he went 4 for 4 in field goals making them from 50, 34, 48, and 28. 

DC will have a chance to turn things around on Sunday at home when they host the Houston Roughnecks.

8. Houston Roughnecks (0-1)

Week 1 result: Lost to Memphis at home 12-18

The Houston Roughnecks have a very athletic quarterback in Jake Guarantano who demonstrated a significant ability to escape pressure in his first career start which was exactly what they needed because he was not getting much protection. He was pressured on 11 of his dropbacks which is significantly high considering he only had 25 dropbacks.

Guarantano did still finish the day with some efficient numbers. He completed 16 of his 21 passes for 157 yards. His completion percentage is made more impressive when you consider that a good portion of his incompletions were intentionally thrown away to negate a sack. He also led the team in rushing as he picked up 22 rushing yards and a touchdown on 2 rushes.

Houston was not able to get much of a run game going which is going to be imperative to establish for them moving forward to keep defenses more on their toes. T.J. Pledger was held to 2.5 yards per carry on 6 rushes for 15 yards.

The low point of the game came early for the Roughnecks. Shortly after a misplayed kickoff had them start their drive with field position at their own 7-yard line a fumble occurred on a passing play leading to a defensive touchdown. Unfortunately, the game would close out with more Roughnecks misfortune as in the final minute a punt was muffed just as Houston was about to get the ball back with about 35 seconds on the clock.

Despite all the problems Houston lost by 1 score and the defense played very well. They put pressure on the quarterback very often and essentially deleted Memphis run game from existence holding their starting running back to just 0.3 yards per carry. Defensive tackle Olive Sagapolu had 3 solo run stops. Linebacker Reuben Foster was involved in 2 run stops, and had an interception. Cornerback Corn Elder made some stops against passing plays and only allowed 7 passing yards his way despite seeing 6 targets come his direction.

Houston does have a high ceiling but they need to get their offensive line figured out. Right now I have them at the bottom but they can become dangerous if blocking is improved. Despite having them at the bottom of this rankings, I have a hunch that Houston has the best chance to turn things around out of the three bottom-ranked teams due to the glimpse of potential we saw from Guarantano. They will have a chance to try again on the road against the DC Defenders on Sunday.

@JonathanClink on Twitter

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Jonathan Clink
Jonathan Clink will work as UFL News Hub's primary correspondent covering the Michigan Panthers for the 2024. He has written over 250 articles covering the Canadian Football League prior to joining UFL News Hub. Clink is originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba and currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has a background in several other sports as well having played soccer, basketball, and hockey competitively.

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