4 Important Rule Differences Between the XFL and NFL

Football Helmet, XFL Logo
The 2020 Super Bowl just wrapped up, yet that doesn’t mean football season is over. On Saturday, February 8th, the XFL will return after 19 years. This season features eight teams from around the country competing for the championship, which takes place in April. Today, I’m going to look at why this new league is starting, and talk about some of the important rule differences between the XFL and the NFL.

This is the second time the XFL has attempted to break into the mainstream sports world. The first time around, things didn’t exactly go as planned.

It’s always fun to see something new. It’s even more fun to place wagers on how everything will unfold. Those looking to bet on the XFL online can head to MyBookie today and find odds for every game of the season.

The XFL Returns After 19 Years

Back in 1999, the WWE and NBC came up with a groundbreaking idea. They would start a new American Football league that began immediately after the NFL’s Super Bowl concluded. The idea was to capture the interest of hardcore football fans who didn’t want to wait seven months to watch their favorite game again.

By 2001, these two companies launched the XFL. The first game took place on February 3rd of that year and understandably, the public was interested as to what would unfold. NBC aired the game and incorporated several wrestling-like elements suggested by the WWE.

As the season progressed, viewership numbers dropped.

The connection to professional wrestling resulted in bad press and some felt the entertainment-heavy style was a little too over the top.

By the time the championship game came around, it was clear this experiment was a failure.

Looking back, the rule differences between the XFL and NFL may be partly to blame for the league’s collapse. It was confusing for many fans to understand why these changes were made.

After 19 years, it seems that Vince McMahan still sees potential in the XFL. The 2020 XFL season kicks off this Saturday and once again, fans are eager to see what takes place. To help make things easier for fans, we’re going to explain some of the major rule differences you’re going to see this weekend.

Rule #1: Points After Touchdowns

In the NFL, a touchdown grants a team six points. Fortunately, this is the case with the XFL, as well. The league owners seem to recognize that this needs to stay the same. As a way to prevent overtime, however, the XFL has a major difference in the way teams earn points after scoring a touchdown.

Live Football Game

In this league, the extra point kick will be replaced with a short scrimmage play. You can think of it as a required 2-point conversion, with some differences. Teams can choose to score from the 2-yard goal line for one point, a score from 5 yards ears two points, and a score from the 10-yard line earns 3 points.

This is one of the rule differences between the XFL and NFL that fans from 2001 will remember. The league decided to keep this rule in place, despite some of the backlash that it faced from fans 19 years ago.

Kickers may not find life in the XFL quite as exciting as it is over in the NFL. The linemen will certainly have their work cut out, though.

Rule # 2: Kickoff and Punt Formations

Punting is extremely common in the NFL. When a team is unable to move down the field and hits fourth down, it’s almost guaranteed they’re kicking the ball away. For reasons unknown, the XFL wants to discourage players from punting at all.

In this league, players cannot begin running down the field until the punt has been caught. Gunners are not allowed here. The coffin corner punt will be treated as a touchback and dropped on the 35-yard line. The goal is to push teams to look for fourth-down conversions as much as possible.

There are some major changes for kickoffs, too.

The XFL wants kickoffs to be an integral part of the game. Here, the kickoff will take place on the 25-yard line.

Interestingly, members of the kicking team will line up on the receiving team’s 35-yard line. Blockers will be placed on their own 30-yard line. You can expect more kickoff return touchdowns coming as a result of this formation.

These rule differences between the XFL and NFL are hugely important. They completely change how a team is structured.

Rule #3: Overtime Scoring

The XFL is hoping to avoid overtime as much as possible. If, however, the final bell rings and two teams are tied, the game will look much different than a traditional NFL overtime. Here, both teams will compete for 2-point conversions, somewhat similar to a penalty shootout you see in soccer.

The overtime will be decided in a five-round shootout. Both teams will take turns starting at the opponent’s 5-yard line, attempting to score. If the defensive team recovers the ball during a play, the round is over.

Wilson Football on Football Field

If the defensive team commits a foul, the offense will be moved up to the 1-yard line. Also like football, if a team is mathematically defeated, or unable to win at any certain point, the game will end. Overtime will last a maximum of 27 minutes.

This is the first time this shootout-style of overtime has ever been attempted in football. It’s unclear exactly how fans will respond to this new style.

Rule #4: Double-Forward Pass

Most of the rule differences between the XFL and NFL have to do with gameplay. The officiating and fouls remain largely the same. One of the most interesting new XFL rules has to do with passing. In this league, players are able to pass the ball forward several times, as long as it has not passed the line of scrimmage.

This may be extremely confusing to some fans. In the NFL, only one forward pass is allowed per down. A foul will immediately be given to any team that throws the ball downfield more than once, regardless of where it takes place.

An XFL company statement claims,

“The Double Pass is one of the most exciting plays in football and the XFL aims to add excitement while maintaining traditional football.”

For longtime NFL players now competing in the XFL, this may be a tough rule to get used to.

This is another one that will significantly change how the game is played. A tight end or wide receiver with an ability to throw will be hugely valuable in this league.

There are some clear differences between the XFL and NFL. It’s almost impossible for Vince McMahon’s new league to truly compete with America’s most popular sports league. If it can capture even a small percentage of its fan base, however, it will be a major success.