The final week of the USFL regular season is upon us! With only one of the four playoff spots clinched, the fight is on to keep their hopes alive into the postseason.
The Stallions, who defeated the Gamblers 38-15, last week, were the only team to take advantage of the opportunity for several teams to secure postseason berths. In Week 10, if Birmingham defeats the Showboats and the Breakers lose to the Gamblers, Birmingham will have also secured the regular season South Division championship. All four teams can advance to the USFL playoffs in the USFL’s North Division, since no team secured a spot last week.
Once More Unto the Breach
Pittsburgh Maulers (3-6) vs. New Jersey Generals (3-6)
Saturday June 17th – 6pm BST / 1pm ET
Sky Sports (UK) / USA Network (US)
This game is the ultimate ‘win and you’re in’ game with the loser being sent home. The playoffs start early for the Maulers and the Generals.
The Pittsburgh Maulers did what they had to do to stay alive last week but they lost the first meeting with the Generals 20-3, with the same number of turnovers as points. The Generals are a better team now than then, especially after last week.
What a performance from New Jersey last week. Not only did DeAndre Johnson return to the offense but head coach, Mike Riley, actually played one quarterback for the entire game! Well, kinda, they got Darius Victor and Cameron Echols-Luper involved in the passing game to excellent effect, as well, but Johnson’s 15/20, 213 yard performance was the key to the win.
Personally, I’ve loved the Maulers recent turnaround but I think the Generals have finally brought it all together.
Bookies Prediction: Generals (-3.5)
Our Prediction: Generals
Birmingham Stallions (7-2) vs. Memphis Showboats (5-4)
Saturday June 17th – 9pm BST / 4pm ET
Sky Sports (UK) / FOX (US)
You might be forgiven for thinking that the Birmingham Stallions can take this one easy, having already secured a playoff spot and homefield advantage. There will be no rest, though, as on Saturday afternoon they have a chance to win the USFL South Division championship. Last week, Birmingham struggled in the first half against the Gamblers before exploding in the second half to win by 23 points. Although Stallions quarterback Alex McGough made a few mistakes versus Houston, he still managed to throw for 208 yards and score three touchdowns overall.
Showboats signal caller, Cole Kelley, had his share of struggles last week, too. As opposed to last week, I don’t see the Showboats turning the ball over five times. They have to win this weekend, therefore I anticipate a much tighter contest than the first encounter, in which the Stallions averaged a pitiful 7.6 yards per play.
I want to go Boats in this one, I really do, but after being thoroughly trodden on by the Breakers, my faith in them as a top team has waned.
Bookies Prediction: Stallions (-4.5)
Our Prediction: Stallions
New Orleans Breakers (6-3) vs. Houston Gamblers (5-4)
Sunday June 18th – 9pm BST / 4pm ET
Sky Sports (UK) / FS1 (US)
Houston missed the opportunity to decide their own fate last week with a lacklustre performance that saw the Gamblers fail in the redzone consistently. In a high scoring matchup between these two teams in Week 2, the Breakers prevailed 38-31. Wes Hills of New Orleans ran for 110 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries, while Kenji Bahar of Houston completed passes for 266 yards, three scores, and three interceptions. After Bahar’s interception and fumble from the previous week, which was recovered for a touchdown, Gamblers fans are hoping that this week’s turnovers won’t be as problematic. Perhaps for the last time this season, I call for the Gamblers to give RB Mark Thompson the ball, sit back and eat caviar. Thompson is once again the key to their victory.
If there was one key improvement point that the Breakers can take away from their 30-3 drubbing of the Showboats last week, it’s to protect QB McLeod-Bethel Thompson better. Thompson was sacked four times during the lightning blighted game. The Gamblers’ secondary, which will be missing safeties Manny Bunch and Andrew Soroh, should be vulnerable if the Breakers can keep the Gamblers out of the backfield.
I don’t trust the Gamblers to hold it together and the fact that they’re playing a team making the argument for the league’s best, I can’t get behind them in this one.
Bookies Prediction: Breakers (-4)
Our Prediction: Breakers
Philadelphia Stars (4-5) vs. Michigan Panthers (3-6)
Sunday June 18th – 12am BST / 7pm ET
Sky Sports (UK) / FOX (US)
Let’s rerun the fun! Both teams had the opportunity to clinch playoff spots last week but failed miserably. For Michigan, Josh Love had a terrible performance, completing only 57.6% of his throws for 233 yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions. In addition to Love’s poor decisions, Michigan only gained 50 running yards while Reggie Corbin was out due to injury. Corbin is expected to play this weekend and will seek to repeat the performance of Generals RB Darius Victor, who gashed the Stars for 51 yards and two touchdowns rushing.
The Stars had a little less say in their demise last week and simply fell victim to playing a better team. Case Cookus spent time in the dirt of the backfield once again, returning to the o-line woes that plagued Philadelphia earlier in the season. The Stars will need to do a better job of protecting Cookus this week so that they can run up the score. They’re fully capable of putting up points and even winning in high scoring games and I can see them doing that in this one, with playoffs on the line.
Bookies Prediction: Stars (-1)
Our Prediction: Stars
Which teams will join the Birmingham Stallions in the postseason? Share your thoughts and predictions in the comment section below.