Week one of the USFL season is in the books and I went over .500 in our first weekend of games. To start off, I had the Philadelphia Stars -2.5 against the Memphis Showboats. The Stars pulled out a close victory and covered the number on the road in an exciting game. As expected, Philly’s offense was very good and Case Cookus shined. I was surprised at how well the Showboats moved the ball and they made us sweat it out right until the end. We next saw the New Jersey Generals go up against the Birmingham Stallions and it was not as close as anticipated. The Generals never looked comfortable on offense and after tying it at ten in the second quarter, the Stallions pulled away with 17 unanswered points. Birmingham easily covered the spread of -5.5. Through Saturday, the record held at 1-1.
Sunday’s first game featured the Michigan Panthers and Houston Gamblers. Both bets had promise through the first 58 minutes and the lock of the week looked great with the total also standing at 35. That was until Panthers quarterback Josh Love threw a seed to Joe Walker down the seam for a touchdown with less than two minutes to go to hit the over 38.5 in garbage time. Luckily, my lock was not in doubt for much of the game and the Panthers won with ease, not even needing the +1 spread. The finale of the weekend featured the Breakers covering at -3.5 against the Pittsburgh Maulers in a close contest. I did expect a competitive game and New Orleans pulled it out with the score tied at 15 with around a minute to go. The hook was threatening, but the touchdown sealed the deal. Now, a look at week two’s best bets.
The first game of the weekend features my lock of the week when the Gamblers and Breakers face off in Birmingham. The New Orleans offense looked decent but had trouble getting the ball into the endzone all night against a tough Pittsburgh defense but managed one very important touchdown. Houston looked outmatched against the Panthers but were able to keep it close until halftime. However, their roster is at a major disadvantage in every game they play, and I will be fading them until further notice. I think the Breakers will only improve as an offense and I don’t think the Gamblers have the firepower to keep up with them. I feel very good backing MBT and coach DeFilippo here.
This is a big number at -7.5, and I did like the way Memphis played against Philly, but the Stallions are a powerhouse. Their roster from top to bottom is the most complete in the USFL and I see them winning by two scores. I don’t think the Showboats will have the same success they did last week against the Stars and the Stallions D-Line is going to dominate this game in the trenches. Whether it’s Brady White or Cole Kelley at quarterback, I believe they’re in for a long day. Birmingham controlled the game against the Generals all night and I believe New Jersey has a far better offensive line and roster as a whole compared to the Showboats.
This game we will see a play on both the spread and the over-under when the Generals play the Maulers in Canton. I still think the Generals are a better team than they showed in week one against the Stallions and they bounce back here. The spread is miniscule at -2 and I think it will be close, but Pittsburgh’s offense was really bad against the Breakers. The Mauler defense is arguably the best in the league though and should keep this game close. The Generals and Maulers scored 10 and 15 points respectively and have one combined offensive touchdown through the first week. Barring a defensive or special teams score, I see this game being low scoring with a possibility of rain in Ohio. Whoever loses will be in last place in the North, so a lot is on the line here despite only being week two. I see the Generals offense improving while seeing much of the same from coach Horton’s group.
The Panthers were my lock last week so it’s probably clear that I’m high on them. I also believe Philly’s offense is terrific, so this was a tough call for me. Despite the Stars high-scoring squad, I like the Panthers with the points when they face off in Canton. This is a game that made me lean toward the over, but I felt more comfortable taking Michigan with the spread at a neutral sight. I see this being close, but the Stars gave up five sacks last week against Memphis, and Michigan has a great pass rush. Defensive Player of the Week Breeland Speaks had three sacks himself in their week one win and I worry that Case Cookus will be under duress throughout this matchup. Josh Love set a USFL completion percentage record at 90% versus Houston and looked great. This should be a good one and we could see the Panthers at 2-0 heading into their home opener.
I don’t love taking three favorites this week however, three favorites did cover in week one of the USFL, so it isn’t unlikely. As the season trudges on, the identities of these teams will become clearer, and we will get a better feel for how things will shake out each week. I anticipate a lot of great games again on this week’s slate and hope I’m able to deliver another week over .500. Check back each week to see if you should tail or fade the picks.
How did you fare with your wagers in USFL week 1? Let us know down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.