USFL Week 1: Five Best Bets

USFL Week 2: Betting Forecast

Bettors were finally able to lay their eyes on the USFL teams, rule changes, new faces, and staffs this past weekend. While I can’t say we learned a lot, we did gather enough data to see some movement in the initial rankings. In this article, we’ll start with the Power Rankings and then touch on what is driving the movement therein.

Power Rankings

  1. NJ (+1)
  2. PHI (+1)
  3. NO (+2)
  4. BIRM (-3)
  5. MICH (-1)
  6. MEM (+1)
  7. PITT (-1)
  8. HOU (-)

I’m sure you have many questions, and maybe even some pitchforks. Let me explain. One such question is how NJ can rise in the rankings while Birmingham falls. Well, let us not forget that the model used to derive the rankings is an ensemble model that uses players, coaches, and past game data. The Generals performed well in most statistics on Saturday night, especially when considering their tough opponent. They moved the ball into the red zone on 4 out of 12 drives, and were inside the Stallion’s 10-yard line on 3 separate occasions but only scored 3 points combined on those drives. The 10 points scored are the fluky part of their performance. Turnovers played a huge role in the outcome, but turnovers are more random than we like to admit. On the Stallion side, they lost something much bigger than a single game – their QB J’Mar Smith, who led them to a championship last year, and starting receiver Marlon Williams. Considering Bo Scarbrough is also on IR, this isn’t last year’s Stallion Offense. However, they still played well, especially on offense, despite the personnel changes. Most of their drop to 4th place is due directly in part to personnel changes.

The Stars moved up after an impressive offensive performance, while New Orleans benefited from an impressive showing on defense, although it’s difficult to gauge how much of that is due to Pittsburgh’s offense. Michigan dropped one spot, but Love at quarterback made easy work of the Gambler Defense. The Michigan drop is more about New Orleans than Michigan. Memphis struggled against a very good Philly Offense, and the score was closer than the advanced metrics indicate. Pittsburgh may have had the worst performance of the weekend, but because their prior ranking was higher than Houston’s, they managed to squeak ahead of the Gamblers for the week. The Gamblers really struggled on defense against a team that struggled to move the ball last year. Time will tell if the Gambler defense is as bad as it looked last weekend.

Buy Prices

Hou v NO

Both of these teams still present somewhat of a mystery. Depending on what you think of Michigan, it will determine how much you believe in Houston. The Breakers, on the other hand, looked dominant on defense but struggled more than expected on offense. Houston had four costly turnovers that shut down what was a competitive game. One thing is for certain – both of these offenses struggled to move the ball and be explosive down the field. Houston averaged just 4.4 yards per attempt, and the Breakers averaged just 6.6 yards per attempt in game 1. Currently, Houston possesses the 7th best offense, and New Orleans has the 5th ranked offense. The spread sits at 6.5, which looks a bit steep, but not as inflated as the total.

Under 42.5

Birm v Mem

In this game, Birmingham opened as 8-point favorites, but that number has been bet down to 7. The total has remained steady at 44.5 points. The loss of key offensive players for the Stallions is likely driving the move from 8 to 7. With McGough starting for the Stallions, it may be a less explosive version of the offense. Although it may not matter against Memphis, who gave up 27 points to the Stars. Memphis currently ranks 7th in Defense in my numbers. With this game being at home and McGough playing well in spot duty for J’Mar Smith (QB Rating 111.2), I cannot fade Birmingham in this spot. Taking the Under is likewise a risky play. Both offenses showed some life in week 1. Unfortunately, my numbers line up with the market in this game.

No Bet


The Pittsburgh Maulers had a poor performance on offense in their first game, similar to last year. They managed only 2.7 yards per attempt and scored their only two touchdowns thanks to a fumble return and a punt return. In contrast, the New Jersey Generals moved the ball well against one of the top teams in the league. The opening line for this game was set at NJ -2, which was surprisingly low given what we saw last year and in the first game. The line has since been bet up to NJ -5.5, which represents a 14% move. While most of the value has been taken out of the spread, there could still be opportunities in the total, which has been set at around 36/36.5 points. Pittsburgh should go with the hot hand at QB and right the ship, and NJ should have more success on offense than their fluky offensive result last week.

Over 36


Michigan looked like a completely different team than last year, with a new coaching staff and QB room that appear to make them a contender. They made quick work of the Gambler Defense, but Philadelphia will offer a tougher challenge as they also have a high-powered offense. This game features the #1 and #2 ranked offenses in my power rankings, making it a potentially high-scoring affair. The opening total for this game was 41.5 points, but it has now risen to 46/46.5 points, a 15% move off of the opener. While the value in the total is likely gone, the opening spread of Philly -3 still offers an opportunity. Three points is a key number in football, and my numbers suggest that this game is closer to Philly -1, with no true home-field advantage. Therefore, taking the 3 points with Michigan could be a good play in this matchup.

Mich +3