Saturday USFL Odds & Betting Picks: Gamblers vs. Maulers & Stallions vs. Stars Spreads, Breakers vs. Generals Total, More Week 5 Bets
Getty Images. Pictured: Stars QB Case Cookus, Generals QB De’Andre Johnson, Gamblers QB Clayton Thorson
- With half the matchups in the books, there are still two more Week 5 USFL games to bet on this Sunday afternoon.
- Read our analysts' previews for Stallions-Stars and Gamblers-Maulers below, complete with picks and predictions on both spreads.
USFL Odds, Picks, Predictions
Michigan Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Bandits
Joey Carrion: The Michigan Panthers, coming off a 1-point loss to the Philadelphia Stars, had their best offensive performance of the season last week after scoring 25 points. They had huge success on the ground, rushing for 250 yards and two touchdowns on 36 attempts.
Even though they’re 1-3, they have lost by an average margin of only 3.33 points. Jeff Fisher has been able to keep this team competitive through the first month of the USFL, and we could see that continue the rest of the way, despite his coaching inefficiencies.
The Panthers have also relied on stout defense to keep them in games. They’ve given up a league-low 45 total points and are second in defensive expected value, per Football Outsiders. They’ve also allowed a league-low 11.3 points per game — a number that should stay low with the league’s new rule that keeps the clock running after incomplete passes in the first and third quarters.
The rule, which was implemented last week, has totals down across the board. Week 4 produced the second-fewest points since Week 1. We could see more low-totaled, competitive games as the season plays out strictly because of this rule change. Not to mention, this favors a team like Michigan, with the Panthers playing a ball-control, clock-bleeding offense.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has been the most disappointing team in the USFL this season.
As preseason championship favorites, the Bandits are currently out of a playoff spot midway through the regular season. They have been one of the worst offensive teams in the league, ranking third worst in offensive efficiency behind the Panthers and Maulers.
The Bandits have scored more than 20 points only one time this season, which is disappointing for a team we thought would be an offensive machine in the USFL.
The Bandits are currently 1-2-1 against the spread (ATS) and 1-3 to the over — not great for a team the entire betting community was high on just a couple weeks ago. They’re just not a great team, but the market still respects them enough to make them 2.5-point favorites.
Maybe this will backfire, but I am backing the Panthers by buying the +3. This should be a hard-fought, low-scoring battle in which the more physical team wins. The Panthers should be able to stymie the Bandits’ weak offense.
New Orleans Breakers vs. New Jersey Generals
Joey Carrion: The New Orleans Breakers take on the New Jersey Generals in what should be one of the most exciting Week 5 matchups. Both teams are currently 3-1 and reside in playoff spots midway through the USFL season.
New Orleans has been a very impressive team this season.
Kyle Sloter leads the USFL in passing yards, coming off a historic performance of 397 yards last week against the Gamblers. The Breakers are also first in yards per game with an average of 383.8 as well as first in defensive efficiency, so they’re arguably the most complete team in the league.
At 3-1, they’ve also been a very profitable team to back early in the season, and I don’t see that changing.
They’re averaging 23.25 offensive points per game while allowing only 14 points defensively — two of the best marks in the USFL. The Breakers look poised to make a run at the championship; I would not be shocked to see them win it all.
New Jersey has also had success in the early portion of the season. The Generals are currently first in the North Division and have the easiest run to a playoff spot out of any team in the USFL.
I would not be surprised if this matchup is a championship preview.
New Jersey has continued to use a two-quarterback system. Luis Perez and De’Andre Johnson are like peanut butter and jelly: You can’t have one without the other. On clear passing downs, Perez will be the guy. In every other situation, Johnson will be the guy.
Lately, they have not needed Perez much because they have had so much success on the ground with Johnson and Darius Victor. The Generals average 178.3 rushing yards per game and are very similar to the Panthers as run-first, defensive teams. They are third in the USFL in points allowed and yards allowed.
This is the toughest game to bet on in Week 5. New Orleans is the better team, but as we’ve seen this season, that really does not mean anything. My spread lean would be Breakers -3 as they have the edge at quarterback and on defense, but my favorite bet is the over. These have been two of the more efficient teams in the league, and I expect points to be scored in this one.
If there is one game that is going to go over this week, it’s this one.
Birmingham Stallions vs. Philadelphia Stars
Ben Hauver: It appears that home-team advantage matters in the USFL.
Entering Week 5 as the only undefeated team, the Stallions finds themselves to be massive favorites (-278) against a Stars team still reeling from the loss of starting QB Bryan Scott.
In last week’s back-and-forth duel against Michigan, Philadelphia’s QB2 Case Cookus did his best to replicate Scott’s success in his absence, throwing for 190 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. It was a gutty performance and the Stars managed to claw their way back to .500.
Cookus, set to make another start this week, now has the second-highest yards per attempt mark in the USFL at 6.7 (minimum 50 attempts).
The Stars’ offensive scheme is clearly one of the best in the league. Regardless of starting quarterback, this team will find a way to put up points. That being said, they also will find a way to let points be put up on them. Philadelphia is allowing 23.75 points per game, tied with Houston for a league-high.
It’s hard to imagine this being the week Philly’s defense finds its footing. The Stallions have the best scoring offense in the USFL; their 24.75 points scored per game is a whopping 6.5 points higher than league average (18.25).
While injury and illness reporting remains suspect at best for the USFL, all indications are that QB J’Mar Smith will return from his COVID-induced absence to lead Birmingham this week. Victor Bolden Jr., the league’s top yards-after-catch receiver, will be the primary beneficiary of Smith’s return.
While favorites are only 9-7 ATS, Birmingham is too good of a team not to win in convincing fashion against a Philadelphia team trotting out a bottom-tier defense and back-up quarterback.
Pittsburgh Maulers vs. Houston Gamblers
Ben Hauver: This one is going to be ugly.
While both divisions’ last-place teams have struggled to win, combining for a record of 1-7, the Maulers are in a category of terrible all by themselves — winless with a point differential of -53, Kirby Wilson coaches games like his goal is to lose them.
Shockingly, Pittsburgh opted to cut its former starting QB Josh Love last week in favor of the clearly inferior Kyle Lauletta. The former New York Giant will make his second start for the Maulers in a less-than-optimal matchup against the ball-hawking Gamblers secondary, led by league interceptions leader Channing Stribling.
It’s only fitting that a professional sports team called the Gamblers would perpetually suffer bad beats: They have lost three consecutive games by a total of only 13 points.
In what would be a rare case for any football team in 2022, Houston might actually be wise to lean more run-heavy and depend less on passing to generate offensive efficiency.
QB Clayton Thorson leads the USFL in passing touchdowns, but has the ninth-best completion percentage (in a league with eight teams). Mark Thompson, on the other hand, is legitimately good. Oddsmakers appear to agree — he has the highest rushing line (74.5 yards) of any player in Week 5 on PrizePicks.
Ultimately, the Gamblers aren’t as bad as their record would suggest while the Maulers absolutely are. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pittsburgh was in the market for a new head coach this time next week.