Sunday USFL Odds, Picks, Predictions For Stars-Panthers and Gamblers-Bandits In Week 8
Getty Images. Pictured: USFL QBs Kyle Sloter and Jordan Ta’amu, RB Reggie Corbin
- Week 8 of the USFL season will close out with Stars vs. Panthers and Gamblers vs. Bandits on Sunday afternoon.
- Our USFL betting analysts Ben Hauver and Joey Carrion, who host The DFS Dose podcast, make their picks and predictions based on the odds below.
Pittsburgh Maulers vs. New Jersey Generals
Ben Hauver: Week 8 of The USFL kicks off with a lopsided matchup between teams with questionable motivation.
The Generals clinched one of the league’s four playoff spots with three weeks still left to play in the regular season. If this were the NFL, we would have major concerns about effort level and whether the team was prioritizing winning or resting for the postseason. (However, players are likely to be more driven by the potential opportunity to be recognized and signed to an NFL practice squad rather than winning a USFL championship.)
It also doesn’t hurt that the Generals are getting healthier. Their most dynamic offensive weapon, QB De’Andre Johnson, has returned to the active roster. Whether they rush him back for this game remains to be seen.
Regardless of Johnson’s status, New Jersey’s edge in this game cannot be overstated enough. As has been the case all season, the Maulers are the undisputed worst team in the USFL. Despite that, they are somehow continuing to unravel and get worse.
The only offensive spark they’ve had all season came off the play of QB Vad Lee, who is the third quarterback to start games for Pittsburgh this season. He was benched last week after getting into an altercation with head coach Kirby Wilson on the sideline and replaced with a visually uncomfortable Roland Rivers.
Whether it’s Lee or Rivers behind center this week, the Maulers are severely outmatched. Already in their metaphorical coffin, Pittsburgh has lost by nine or more points in four of seven games this season. I’m expecting New Jersey to bring a hammer and nails to close this thing out.
New Orleans Breakers vs. Birmingham Stallions
Ben Hauver: If there were ever a week that the undefeated Stallions were going to stumble, this would be it.
The Stallions have clinched a playoff spot, but as alluded to above, aren’t likely to take their feet off the gas as a result. The Breakers are the second-best team in the league and can punch their postseason ticket with a win this week.
QB Kyle Sloter leads the league in passing yards (1,499) despite having not been at full health for some time now. Head coach Larry Fedora gave Sloter a breather last week in favor of former Tulsa QB Zach Smith. This is still Sloter’s team, but the personnel switch is worth noting as it is the first time New Orleans has used any type of two-quarterback approach this season.
As for Birmingham, the game plan as of late has been ride RB Bo Scarbrough to victory. Scarbrough has been a revelation on the ground since joining the team three weeks ago. Attempting to stop him will be the primary focus for New Orleans defense this week.
Both teams have top-three defenses in terms of points allowed. These two first matched up in Week 3: A 22-13 victory for Birmingham. I’m expecting a closer, but equally low-scoring game in this spot.
Betting unders has been profitable in Year 1 of the USFL and 44.5 is too high of a total between good teams with elite defenses.
Michigan Panthers vs. Philadelphia Stars
Joey Carrion: In the Week 4 addition of this matchup, the Stars won 26-25 on a last-second missed field goal by Panthers kicker Michael Carrizosa.
The Panthers are now coming off an overtime loss to the Breakers in which the Panthers managed to score the most points they’ve scored all season (27). Michigan opted to roll with Josh Love as the starter last week, and he was not productive. Love finished with 176 passing yards on 37 attempts with a 62.4 QBR.
Quarterback play has been the downfall of Michigan this season, and there seems to be no clear answer in sight.
While the Panthers have struggled through the air, their league-best rushing attack and tough defense has allowed them to stay in games. Star running back Reggie Corbin leads the USFL in rushing yards, yards per carry, and yards per game in only six played. The Panthers are also fourth in scoring defense and have allowed the second-fewest yards per game (267.1).
Despite Michigan playing tough defense, and close games, the Panthers just cannot win games. They are 1-6 on the moneyline and 2-4 against the spread (ATS).
Philadelphia comes into Week 8 with a 4-3 record and most likely has a playoff spot locked in the North Division. The Stars will look to defeat their division foes this week to go up four games in the standings with only two regular-season weeks left to play.
The Stars have one of the best scoring offenses in the USFL, averaging 25.1 points per game, good for second in the league. While they have not had trouble scoring, they have had trouble stopping teams from scoring, allowing 177 points — tied for worst in the USFL with the Gamblers.
Philadelphia is 3-3 ATS this season, covering in all of its wins. The Stars are six-point favorites in this spot against Michigan, which seems like a low number considering how the Panthers are one of the worst teams in the USFL. This could be a closer game than some expect, but Philadelphia has a clear advantage on the offensive side of the ball and more to play for.
We are fading Jeff Fisher once again.
Houston Gamblers vs. Tampa Bay Bandits
Joey Carrion: When these teams first faced off in Week 3, Tampa Bay won, 27-26.
Houston has struggled to win games. After opening the season 1-0, the Gamblers have lost six straight by an average of 4.3 points per game, including multiple on the last drive.
This is a team that lacks the ability to finish games.
A reason Houston has lost six games in a row is because of its putrid defense, which is allowing 368.1 yards per game and 25.3 points per game, both worst in the USFL. Houston is also last in yards per game on offense, but fourth in total points scored.
Although Houston is inefficient on offense, the Gamblers do have consistency. Clayton Thorson is one of three USFL quarterbacks to start all seven games. He also leads the USFL in passing touchdowns with 10 and has a league-high 125.4 QBR.
Tampa Bay comes into this Week 8 matchup with a 3-4 record and is looking to make a late-season playoff push. The Bandits have been disappointing relative to expectations. As preseason championship favorites, they’re currently third in the South Division and two games behind the Breakers.
Offensively, the Bandits are just not the team we expected them to be. Led by head coach Todd Haley and quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, they have averaged only 17.9 points per game, second-worst in the USFL. Defensively, Tampa Bay is third in yards allowed and fourth in points allowed. As a team, they are just very inconsistent on both sides of the ball and are hard to trust on a weekly basis.
From a betting perspective, Houston is 2-3-1 ATS this season and 5-2 to the over. Tampa Bay is also 2-3-1 ATS and 4-3 to the over.
This is a tough game to handicap. I believe Tampa Bay is the better team, but has shown to be unreliable. Houston, on the other hand, has played close games — but has not been able to cover the spread. Although Tampa and Houston have been inefficient on offense, I believe this is a good spot to bet the over. The total went over in their first matchup, and these defenses should have no problem letting up yards and points.
If I had to pick a spread bet, I would lean Houston.