USFL Odds, Picks, Predictions: Stars vs. Generals ML, Bandits vs. Gamblers Spread, More Week 3 Bets
Tim Nwachukwu/USFL/Getty Images. Pictured: USFL Stars QB Bryan Scott
The USFL season marches on with the Tampa Bay Bandits and Houston Gamblers kicking Week 3 off this Saturday afternoon, then the New Jersey Generals and Philadelphia Stars closing out the action on Sunday night.
Our analysts break down their picks and predictions for all four games based on Week 3 USFL odds below.
USFL Odds & Picks
Tampa Bay Bandits vs. Houston Gamblers
Joey Carrion: The Bandits take on the Gamblers in this battle of between the third- and fourth-place teams in the South Division.
After an inspiring Week 1, the Bandits were dominated by the New Orleans Breakers in Week 2, losing 34-3. The Bandits are a tough team to get a read on coming into Week 3. On paper, they are one of the best teams in the league. However, they haven’t played like it.
Jordan Ta’amu was benched last week and the Bandits offense accumulated only 194 yards on 12 drives. They averaged a pathetic 3.1 yards-per-play and found themselves in the red zone only once.
The Bandits are going to be a frustrating team to bet on all season. They have the skill players to compete with any team in the USFL, but inconsistency will be an issue for their offense. They have yet to total 300 yards of offense in a game and have averaged a measly 3.5 yards per play, which makes me question whether Todd Haley’s offensive system is what we hoped it would be.
Meanwhile, the Houston Gamblers are coming off a painful 33-28 loss to the Birmingham Stallions.
Quarterback play has not been good for the Gamblers; Clayton Thorson leads the USFL in interceptions and has the lowest completion percentage of any USFL starting QB.
Running back Mark Thompson looks like he is going to be on an NFL team come September. He leads the USFL in rushing with 164 yards and is the focal point of the Gamblers offense. I would expect them to continue feeding Thompson the ball to limit passing volume from their league-worst QB room.
This is one of the more interesting matchups of Week 3. Both teams are trending downward, mainly due to poor quarterback play.
The Bandits have underachieved significantly compared to expectations as a championship favorite heading into Week 1. This is a prime buy-low opportunity with them being only 1-point favorites against an inferior team. Give me the better QB in Ta’amu and the better team to win convincingly in Week 3.
Birmingham Stallions vs. New Orleans Breakers
Joey Carrion: The matchup of undefeateds.
The Stallions are coming off a five-point victory over the Houston Gamblers in which they scored 33 points and dominated time of possession, total yards and yards per play.
J’Mar Smith can be credited for the Stallions’ success on offense as one of the most surprising players in the USFL. Smith is currently top four in numerous categories such as touchdowns, passing yards, completion percentage and QBR.
Quarterback play is so important in these developmental leagues, and the Stallions look to have found a gem in Smith.
Kyle Sloter has also been great for the Breakers. Sloter, an NFL preseason legend, has been lights out for New Orleans to start the season. This team goes well beyond Sloter, though. T.J. Logan and Jordan Ellis have been two of the best running backs in the USFL, combining for more than 250 yards and three touchdowns through only two games.
The Breakers are loaded on offense, but defense has also played a key role in their success. They have allowed 20 points in two games and currently have the USFL’s sack leader, Davin Bellamy, terrorizing opposing offenses.
This is a team that can not only get it done on offense, but can lock up on defense as well.
Ultimately, this matchup features the league’s two best teams. Both can score at will and have above-average quarterback play. This could potentially be the highest-scoring game of the season so far with both teams having players capable of putting up points in a hurry, thus speeding up the game.
For that reason, I’m smashing the over.
Pittsburgh Maulers vs. Michigan Panthers
Ben Hauver: After looking completely inept in Week 1, the Pittsburgh Maulers (+2.5) had as strong a bounce-back as a team that remains winless could.
Maulers QB Josh Love came alive in Week 2, throwing for 236 yards and two touchdowns. Part of what awakened Love was the emergence of WR Bailey Gaither, who now leads the USFL in receiving yards with 159.
The backfield tandem of Garrett Groshek and Madre London — which opened the season in a near 50/50 split — is beginning to shift in Groshek’s favor. Groshek has been the better back through two games and deserves a larger share of the team’s rushing. If that trend continues, London’s rushing prop on PrizePicks is too high at 40.5 yards.
Maulers head coach Kirby Wilson would be wise to deviate from his must-run mentality and allow Love to build on last week’s success.
As for Michigan, Jeff Fisher’s Panthers have looked abysmal.
QB Shea Patterson managed to produce a lowly 4.27 yards per attempt on 29 throws en route to last week’s loss. He completed 14 passes (48.3%) for 124 scoreless yards. With former NFL first-round pick Paxton Lynch waiting on the bench, Patterson will need a big performance this week to safely maintain his role as the undisputed starter.
This game profiles as a slow-paced slog between two highly-questionable coaches.
If you’re feeling bold, Maulers moneyline at +115 odds is a solid bet. However, underdogs have hit in only two of eight games played so far while unders have hit in five, and this matchup is not one that should naturally create many points.
New Jersey Generals vs. Philadelphia Stars
Ben Hauver: Week 3 will conclude with an interesting matchup between two teams that look to win in different ways.
The New Jersey Generals (+1) operate their offense with a quarterback rotation that features Luis Perez and De’Andre Johnson. Perez, who returned to game action last week, has been the more efficient passer of the two. His 70.3% completion percentage is second-best in the league. What has kept Johnson so heavily involved has been his ability as a rusher. Through two games, his 125 yards on the ground are fourth-most in the league and more than double the next-closest quarterback.
Generals RB Darius Victor — who, like his QB, is top-five in rushing-yards (107) — will continue to handle the bulk of carries out of the backfield. With Mike Weber out of the picture, Victor’s 34.5 yard rushing prop on PrizePicks is too low.
Defensively, the Stars will have their hands full attempting to limit the Generals’ rushing attack. Luckily for Philadelphia, QB Bryan Scott appears to be the real deal. Scott now leads the league in attempts (36 per game), completion percentage (70.8%), yards (474), and passing touchdowns (4).
Head coach Bart Andrus came into the season envisioning an up-tempo pass-heavy offense and so-far, that’s exactly what Bryan Scott has given him.
All-in-all, the aggressive nature of the Stars offense combined with Scott’s high-level play to open the season is likely to be too much for the Generals to handle. Favorites have opened the year 6-2 straight-up, and I’m expecting this game to continue that trend.