The XFL will have eight teams and play a 10-week schedule from Saturday, Feb. 8, to Sunday, April 12. The top two teams from the East and West divisions will play in their respective playoff games on April 18 and April 19 with the championship game being held on Sunday, April 26.
The XFL rulebook features several prominent differences from that of the NFL’s.
The following are some of the more outstanding changes in each area of gameplay:
Special Teams/ Extra Points
- After a touchdown, the team has the option of running a play from the 2, 5, or 10-yard line, worth 1, 2, or 3 points respectively. The team must run an offensive play and no kicking plays are allowed.
- If the defense is able to cause a turnover and return the ball to the opponent’s end zone, the resulting score is equal to the number of points the offense was attempting to score on its PAT.
- Out-of-bounds kicks and kicks that fall short of the 20-yard line will result in an illegal procedure penalty, taking the ball all the way out to the kicking team’s 45-yard line.
- Players can move when the ball is touched by the returner or 3 seconds after the ball touches the ground (when the official waves his hand down).
- If the ball is kicked into the end zone and is downed, it is a “Major” touchback and the ball is placed at the return side 35-yard line.
- If the ball bounces in bounds and then out of the end zone or is downed in the end zone, the ball is placed at the return side 15-yard line.
- If a team wishes to run an onside kick, it must indicate this to the official before the play and the two teams will be permitted to line up using traditional NFL rules (i.e. 10 yards apart from the kicking team). There will be no surprise onside kicks.
Special Teams/ Punts
- The punting team cannot release past the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked.
- If the ball goes out-of-bounds inside the 35-yard line, it is a “Major” touchback and the ball goes to the 35-yard line.
- If a punted ball lands in the opponent’s end zone or goes out of the end zone, the result is a “Major” touchback, and the ball goes out to the 35-yard line.
- Fair catches are permitted.
Offense/ Double Forward Pass
- If a team completes a forward pass behind the line of scrimmage, that team may throw a second forward pass, as long as the ball has at no time crossed the line of scrimmage.
- Once the ball has passed the line of scrimmage, no forward passes are permitted.
- Overtime shall consist of 5 “Rounds”, staged in alternating single-play possessions as is customary in NHL shootouts or MLS penalty kicks. A “Round” will consist of one offensive play per team. Each possession starts at the opponent’s 5-yard line, and the offensive team has one play to score. The team with more points after 5 rounds is the winner.
- If a team has been mathematically eliminated before all 5 rounds have been completed, the game ends immediately (e.g. If Team A scores on its first 3 attempts and Team B is stopped on its first 3 attempts, then no subsequent plays are necessary).
- If teams are tied after 5 rounds, then rounds continue until one team is leading at the conclusion of a round, and that team will be the winner.
- For scoring, each successful overtime score is worth 2 points.
- The defensive team cannot score. If the offensive team commits a turnover, the play is over immediately.
- If the defensive team commits a penalty, the offensive team will be allowed to re-attempt from the 1-yard line.
- Any subsequent penalty committed by the defensive team on any subsequent play, including in future rounds, will result in a score awarded to the offensive team.
- There will be a 25-second play clock that begins after the ball is spotted for the next play.
- It takes 7 seconds on average to spot the ball (average 32-second play clock)
- Outside the last 2 minutes of each half, when a play ends out of bounds, or on an incompletion, the game clock will be stopped until the ball is spotted.
- Aside from incompletions and out-of-bounds plays, game clock rules outside the last 2 minutes of each half are the same as the NFL.
- Occurs after the 2-Minute Warning in each half.
- On plays that end in the field of play, the game clock will be stopped until the ball has been spotted and 5 seconds have run off of the play clock.
- On incomplete passes and out-of-bounds plays, the game clock will stop completely until the ball is snapped.
- Each team will have 2 one-minute timeouts per half.
- The XFL will have no coaches’ challenges and all plays will be subject to review from the Replay Official, who will be stationed in a booth above the field.
- Reviewable plays are limited to: (a) Plays involving possession. (b) Plays involving touching of either the ball or the ground. (c) Plays governed by the goal line. (d) Plays governed by the boundary lines. (e) Plays governed by the line of scrimmage. (f) Plays governed by the line to gain. (g) Number of players on the field at the snap. (h) Game administration. (1) Penalty enforcement. (2) Proper down. (3) Spot of a foul. (4) Status of the game clock. (i) Disqualification of a player. This list of reviewable plays is identical to those in the NFL prior to 2019.
- Exception: The Replay Official may correct obvious errors involving player safety at any point throughout the game.
- Exception: The Replay Official may correct any egregious obvious error that may have a significant impact on the outcome of the game in the last five minutes of the 4th quarter or during overtime.
Additional rules that differ from NFL
- Only one foot inbounds required for a catch.
- One official dedicated specifically to spotting the ball after each play.
- 10-minute halftime period.