USFL WEEK 10 PREVIEW & PICKS
Our USFL regular season has come to an end with four of the most meaningless football games that will ever be played.
You could argue that could count for any USFL week, but we like football here and are pretty happy with having options outside of Canada this time of year.
Plus, every contest is a money making opportunity thanks to odds, lines and totals. So let’s pick some games.
PHILADELPHIA STARS AT NEW JERSEY GENERALS (-2.5, O/U: 41)
Last week the Stars held off a spirited effort by the hapless Pittsburgh Maulers to grabe a 17-16 victory. The Generals had a similar experience against the other worst team in the USFL, eking out a 25-23 win over the Michigan Panthers.
After seemingly locking down the Philly QB job, Case Cookus had a rough outing against the Maulers. He was beaten up and knocked out of the game once, completing just 38.5 percent of his passes for 62 yards and a pick. KJ Costello wasn’t much better when he got his shot with a 40.0 completion percentage for 69 yards. Matt Colburn II served as the offense, carrying the ball 12 times for 97 yards and a score.
The Generals are easing back De’Andre Johnson into the line up. He played some, finishing 5 of 8 for 60 yards and a pick. Luis Perez went most of the way, going 10 of 16 for 92 yards and a TD. Trey Williams had 11 rushes for 62 yards. Darrius Shepherd caught eight passes for 99 yards and a touchdown.
We get to see this game two weeks in a row as this will be the North’s first round playoff matchup. It’s quite the scheduling coup, or snafu depending on how you look at it. The Generals are the better team and ideally should win both. Considering this game is meaningless, I’m not sure how serious either team will take it. I’m holding my nose and picking New Jersey, which is ironic because holding your nose is the best way to travel through New Jersey. Generals 20, Stars 17
BIRMINGHAM STALLIONS AT TAMPA BAY BANDITS (+3.5, O/U: 40.5)
The Stallions were handed their first and long overdue loss of the season, falling 17-15 to the hard luck Houston Gamblers last week. The Bandits were once again stymied on offense (which is bad news for Todd Haley, who is supposed to be an offensive head coach), losing 17-6 to the playoff bound New Orleans Breakers.
The irony that J’Marr Smith had his best game in probably two months and Birmingham was still defeated should not be lost on anyone. Smith completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 260 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He added 21 yards rushing. Victor Bolden Jr. hauled in eight passes for 74 yards.
Jordan Ta’amu was downright generous with the ball for the Bandits last week, completing 56.4 percent of his passes for 288 yards, on TD and two picks. He did rush nine times for 86 yards. Rashard Davis caught six balls for 112 yards and a score.
Tampa is battling for pride here and the chance to at least finish the season .500. Birmingham sealed its playoff position weeks ago but has struggled on offense most of the year. They have a lot to work on before the playoffs begin and they might as well do it in a game that counts on the standings. Stallions 23, Bandits 10
MICHIGAN PANTHERS AT PITTSBURGH MAULERS (+2.5, O/U: 42)
A week ago the Panthers, as they often do, came close to sneaking away with a win only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, losing 25-23 to the New Jersey Generals. The Maulers performed similarly to Michigan with identical results, falling 17-16 to the Philadelphia Stars.
It was another rough day of quarterbacking for the Panthers. This time Paxton Lynch never saw the field as Josh Love finished 12 of 21 for 168 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions and Eric Barriere was 14 of 24 for 118 yards, one TD and a pick. Joe Walker had seven receptions for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Ishmael Hyman caught five passes for 62 yards and a score.
For the Maulers, Vad Lee once again turned into a pumpkin, completing 63 percent of his passes for only 146 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
This is it. The game of the week as the two worst teams in the USFL battle it out for the official title of the worst team in all of professional football. On one hand, considering this game is all but meaningless in the grand scheme of things, that’s usually the time a Jeff Fisher led squad will step up and deliver its best performance. On the other hand, there’s a real shot at a final ultimate humiliation delivered to Fisher, who has shown unequivocally that he has no business coaching a football team at any level. I’m rooting for you Pittsburgh. Maulers 17, Panthers 16
NEW ORLEANS BREAKERS AT HOUSTON GAMBLERS (+3.5, O/U: 40.5)
The Breakers nabbed the final open USFL playoff spot last week by knocking off the Tampa Bay Bandits 17-6. Houston picked up the biggest win of their season (not difficult when they just have two), handing the Birmingham Stallions their first loss of the year, 17-15.
Zach Smith continued his hot streak when given the chance for New Orleans, completing 83 percent of his passes for 51 yards and a touchdown. Kyle Sloter, who went most of the way, was pretty bad, going 7 of 14 for 48 yards and an interception. Anthony Jones had 11 carries for 59 yards. Jordan Ellis rushed 14 times for 45 yards and a touchdown.
The Gamblers leaned into Kenju Bahar completely to winning results. He completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 164 yards and a touchdown. He rushed six times for 36 yards. Tyler Palka had six catches for 83 yards.
Houston escaped the USFL dungeon a week ago with a monster victory, but to do it two weeks in a row against a team trying to stay hot for the playoffs is a tall order. Breakers 23, Gamblers 17
Straight up: 3-1
Against the spread: 2-2
Straight up: 23-13
Against the spread: 17-19
Follow Adam Greene on Twitter @TheFirstMan.