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UFL Week Eight: Jared Shuster’s Best Bets

This season’s record: 12-8-1

Week 8 Picks:
Panthers -8
Stallions -15.5
Renegades +3.5

Week seven brought us another good weekend of games in the UFL. Personally, I went 1-1-1 in my picks which included my first push of the year. Birmingham was -4 against St. Louis and won by four, being that the final was 30-26. The game of the year lived up to the hype and it looks as if we are likely to see a rematch June 16th in the UFL Championship. San Antonio had another ridiculous comeback in their 15-12 win over Houston, scoring 12 points in the final three minutes of the game. We have some big spreads across the board this week so let’s look at week eight’s best bets.

Memphis Showboats @ Michigan Panthers (-8)

The last time these two teams met was in week five. The Panthers won 35-18 behind a run heavy offensive attack, finishing with 160 yards on the ground. Quarterback Danny Etling had 185 total yards and a rushing touchdown. We’ll likely see a mix of Brian Lewerke and Bryce Perkins at quarterback though, much like last week in their win against DC. Running backs Wes Hills and Matt Colburn combined for 164 total yards and four touchdowns in their previous matchup and we shouldn’t expect much different this week. Last week, the Panthers ran for 187 yards against the Defenders, and they currently rank second in the league in rushing yards, averaging 119.6 yards per game. Their defense is only giving up 16.3 points per game and they had seven sacks against Memphis in week five. They were also able to pick off quarterback Troy Williams twice.

The Showboats are sixth against the run giving up nearly 100 yards per game. They’re giving up league highs in both scoring defense (28.3 ppg) and yards allowed (350.6). They were right around those averages in their previous matchup with the Panthers and things have only gotten worse in recent weeks. Williams was 19/37 for 248 yards and three touchdowns along with the two aforementioned picks in that week five game, but it appears Case Cookus will get the start at quarterback, with Josh Love as his backup. Despite high expectations, Cookus has been nearly identical to Williams this season in his performance. The horrendous offensive line hasn’t helped either by any means. Memphis ranks seventh in rushing yards, only averaging a little more than 60 per game, and are up against the number two rush defense in the league. Cookus will be forced to throw a lot, playing from behind, and he’ll be sacked a bunch. Michigan will win this one by double digits. The Showboats have lost six straight, the last five have all been by at least 15 points.

Houston Roughnecks @ Birmingham Stallions (-15.5)

This is another game that is a rematch of a week five contest, just like all of this week’s games. The Stallions won in Houston 32-9 and held the Roughnecks scoreless in the second half. Houston only mustered 36 yards rushing and they are dead last in that category this season. They’re facing the league’s top run defense, and the passing game hasn’t been stellar this year. They’re only scoring 13.7 points per game and have only eclipsed 20 points once. That was in a 34-20 loss to Michigan. They’ll be able to move the ball decently through the air but lack the big-play explosiveness to keep up with quarterback Adrian Martinez and the Birmingham offense. To make matters worse, they just lost linebacker Gabriel Sewell for the season and linebacker Reuben Foster is out this week, weakening their defense even more. They rank near the middle of the pack in most defensive categories, but that all goes out the window when you play the Stallions. They allowed 32 points, 358 yards, and 6.6 yards per play in that week five contest.

Martinez had another monster game last week with 290 total yards and three touchdowns. In week five, he accounted for 293 total yards which was about 82% of their offense. He’s put up numbers like that every week and I expect 350+ total yards and 3+ touchdowns in this one. Roughnecks’ cornerback Kiondre Thomas is out this week so wide receiver Deon Cain should have a big game for the Stallions. Houston’s secondary has been a problem all year and I believe the defense will do everything they can to stop Martinez from using his legs. That should allow for plenty of man coverage and multiple deep shots. On the other side, the Stallions’ defense is first in scoring, total yards, and rushing yards allowed this season. They were only able to record one sack against Houston last time, but the Roughnecks’ offensive line has regressed so we’ll see Reid Sinnett and Nolan Henderson under a lot of pressure. Guarantano is out this week, so they’ll turn to Sinnett at QB once again. Henderson may get some snaps under center, as well. Sinnett was solid against Birmingham but wasn’t able to lead the team to many points or sustain long drives. I expect another 20+ point win for Birmingham in this one.

Arlington Renegades (+3.5) @ San Antonio Brahmas

The last time these two teams met in Arlington was also in week five. The Brahmas won 25-15 despite losing the turnover battle 3-1. This is a game that the Renegades should’ve won, but they failed to get into the endzone on all four of their red zone trips. They picked off San Antonio quarterback Quinten Dormady three times and those three takeaways led to the following: blocked field goal, field goal, fumble. Three points off three turnovers is awful, but it won’t happen again this week. The Renegades’ defense isn’t good, but Dormady has been regressing quickly. I think they’ll be able to force a couple more turnovers. The offense is averaging 37 points per game since that matchup and quarterback Luis Perez has been elite. He finished last week with 296 yards passing and three touchdowns. This offense is hitting its groove and that will continue, despite San Antonio’s underrated defense.

The Brahmas are 5-2, but it doesn’t feel like it. They’re averaging 13.5 points per game these last two weeks, and head coach Wade Phillips told the media this week that Dormady will get the start again on Sunday. San Antonio does run the ball well, so I expect them to lean on running back John Lovett against a bad run defense. One area of concern for Arlington is the Brahma pass rush. They had two sacks in week five as well as six last week against Houston. Perez has done a nice job avoiding pressure as of late and I expect him to continue his hot streak. These rosters are so close so I’m making this pick based on the QB matchup. I would much rather back Perez getting 3.5 points than Dormady, who appears headed to the bench in short order.

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