With the entire USFL differentiated by only by a win or two, playoff spots are available to every team right now. Who will make their mark in Week 7 to separate themselves from the pack?
We seriously talking about playoffs? With four regular season weeks remaining in the 2023 USFL season, the playoffs are wide open but Week 7 could be the week in which we see some teams stand apart while others stand aside. The week’s games kick off with a rematch of top teams on Saturday, in a week in which the majority of games are played at times considered irregular for football. Will this timeslot shuffle bring more viewers to the USFL or turn people away?
Who will prevail in Week 7?
Birmingham Stallions (4-2) @ New Orleans Breakers (4-2)
Saturday May 27th – 9pm BST / 4pm ET
Sky Sports (UK) / FOX (US)
The New Orleans Breakers and the defending champion Stallions will square off in the USFL’s biggest game of the week on Saturday in Birmingham, Alabama. Both of these teams have records of 4-2 and so this is expected to be the game that will decide who tops the South going into the playoffs.
The Breakers prevailed, 45-31, in their Week 3 meeting but a lot has changed in the last few weeks. Stallions quarterback, Alex McGough, is showing himself to be a great all-rounder. In the victory over the Michican Panthers last week, McGough brought a QB rushing attack to an already established passing game. It doesn’t hurt that he’s charismatic as hell, too.
Things couldn’t have gone much better for the Breakers last week but they still couldn’t pick up the win. McLeod Bethel-Thompson had a game to forget, going 22/38 with two interceptions. He did find seven different receiving targets throughout the game but New Orleans are struggling to find that #1 guy that Bethel-Thompson can rely on.
Things are trending up for the Stallions and, unless serious corrections are made, the needle will only continue to drop for the Breakers. Birmingham have more going for them right now and that’s why I think they even their series at 1-1 this Saturday.
Bookies Prediction: Stallions (-1.5)
Our Prediction: Stallions
Philadelphia Stars (3-3) @ Pittsburgh Maulers (2-4)
Saturday May 27th – 2am BST / 9pm ET
Sky Sports (UK) / FS1 (US)
Sitting atop the USFL North Division standings, the Philadelphia Stars will be looking to prove that their early season struggles are behind them. Not that they did the greatest job of that in Week 6…
In last week’s game, Case Cookus got desperate when he didn’t need to and made several unnecessary errors such as when he shovel passed the ball forwards to the defense. The team didn’t help him either. They had touchdowns taken off the board on two consecutive plays because of penalties; they had to settle for a field goal on that drive, instead. Dumb ways to die. The Stars were bailed out by their running game and a defense that was able to maintain their slim margin of victory.
As frustrating as things were for Philly, though, it was worse for Pittsburgh. The Maulers had a nightmare day they’ll be looking to forget. They couldn’t produce anything on offense, despite producing more yards than the Showboats, and kicker Chris Blewitt lived up to his family name, missing a 59 yard kick that was returned for a touchdown and failing to put points in the board on a 51 yarder in the 3rd quarter. Pittsburgh were ultimately shut out; an embarrassment that Maulers players and the city of Pittsburgh won’t soon forget.
The bookmakers can’t call this one and I can’t say I blame them. Stars Head Coach, Bart Andrus, will have done his best to settle down Cookus during practice this week and I think that experience carries them to a slim win.
Bookies Prediction: Evens
Our Prediction: Stars
Houston Gamblers (4-2) @ Memphis Showboats (3-3)
Sunday May 28th – 7:30pm BST / 2:30pm ET
Sky Sports (UK) / USA Network (US)
It’s a battle of winning streaks in this first game of the Sunday slate. Houston come into Memphis having won their last four games, while the hometown Showboats are on a three game streak of their own. Something’s gotta give.
The Houston Gamblers offense was a little sedate last week against the New Jersey Generals. With only 81 yards rushing and 130 yards passing, the Gamblers could have come a cropper to a better team.
The Memphis Showboats have had, arguably, the most impressive turnaround in the USFL, this season. Their shutout victory over the Pittsburgh Maulers was no exception to that. The Showboats were successful in all three phases. Running Back, Juwan Washington, carried the offense on his back with a 71 yard day. The defensive unit held firm throughout the game and, on special teams, Derek Dillon put the dagger into the Maulers to end the first half with a 109 yard return after a short field goal.
In addition to their on field performance, the Memphis crowd delivered as well. Fans showed out wearing sailor hats in Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll. Homefield advantage is important and life is good in Memphis.
Bookies Prediction: Gamblers (-3)
Our Prediction: Showboats
Michigan Panthers (2-4) @ New Jersey Generals (2-4)
Sunday May 28th – 10:30pm BST / 5:30pm ET
Sky Sports (UK) / FS1 (US)
I find myself consistently baffled by the way Mike Riley coaches football. After once again adopting his tried and trainwreck 2QB approach in Week 5, Riley tapped Kyle Lauletta for the Week 6 start. Nothing against Lauletta, he’s a competent passer, but, in sidelining De’Andre Johnson, the Generals also sidelined his dual threat ability. The Houston Gamblers defense saw through this one dimensional offense to hold star running back, Darius Victor, to only 38 yards rushing. Lauletta went 17/30 for 177 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception and really offered nothing that Johnson hadn’t produced this season already.
The Michigan Panthers aren’t clicking all that well, either, but at least head coach Mike Nolan doesn’t seem to be in his own team’s way. Josh Love had a decent game last week, throwing for 222 yards and not throwing interceptions that have cost his team in recent games. Love appears to have found a #1 target in wide receiver, Trey Quinn, who secured 108 yards on 10 targets. Put bluntly, though, they just weren’t ready for the Birmingham Stallions. The New Jersey Generals threat isn’t anywhere near as great, though.
The bookmakers have the New Jersey Generals as the firm favourites in this one but I think the Panthers will use this game to bounce back and capitalise on the chaotic player management of the home team.
Bookies Prediction: Generals (-6.5)
Our Prediction: Panthers
Who do you think is taking the dub in Week 7? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.