USFL Week 2 predictions, picks, props and best bets: Stallions prove to be studs
We are back for Week 2 of the United States Football League (USFL) at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama. The opener was a lot of fun as the New Jersey Generals and Birmingham Stallions put on an exciting show, but then the games on Sunday were not played at quite as high of a level and were also marred by weather issues, pushing the last game back to Monday.
This week the games will be played Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so hopefully the weather will be better, and all games can go off as scheduled. Three of the 4 games did not reach the point total, but we still saw some exciting football as 3 of the 4 games were decided by less than a touchdown and 2 of them were decided in the final seconds. As a lot of teams were still trying to figure out what they had on their rosters, we should get some cleaner play in Week 2 of the USFL as well as a better idea of what to expect from each team. Based on what we know from these teams and what we saw last week, let’s take a look at some of the best bets for the weekend.
How to watch the USFL in Week 2
The USFL regular season will continue on Friday, April 22, and run through mid-June before the playoffs begin. The opening matchup this weekend will see the Michigan Panthers take on the New Jersey Generals, with kickoff slated for 8 pm ET on Friday, April 22.
- Michigan Panthers at New Jersey Generals, 8:00 pm ET, Friday, April 22, USA
- Pittsburgh Maulers at Philadelphia Stars, 12:00 pm ET, Saturday, April 23, Fox
- Birmingham Stallions at Houston Gamblers, 7:00 pm ET, Saturday, April 23, FS1
- New Orleans Breakers at Tampa Bay Bandits, 3:00 pm ET, Sunday April 24, NBC
Michigan Panthers vs New Jersey Generals prediction: Generals -1 (-115)
Michigan did have a chance at a game-winning touchdown in the final moments last week, but they did not look solid as an offense by any stretch. I’m not sure I have watched so many fumbles and interceptions from one team in a single game in quite a while. Cameron Scarlett fumbled on his first attempt, Shea Patterson fumbled four times, and Paxton Lynch threw for one whole yard and had a pick and lost fumble. While they did play what seemed like a fierce defense in Houston, the offense was rarely in sync and was best when they were running the ball.
The Generals had a great two-headed monster at quarterback with Luis Perez throwing and De’Andre Johnson mostly running. They scored 24 points and had the game won before Birmingham stole it late. I liked a lot of what I saw from New Jersey, including Darius Victor and Trey Williams running the ball and big Randy Satterfield making long plays down the field in the passing game. I need to see a lot of improvement from Michigan before I start to give them more respect, and I believe New Jersey can win this one by more than a touchdown.
Pittsburgh Maulers vs Philadelphia Stars prediction: Under 36 (-120)
The Stars had one of the more traditionally run offenses in the USFL in Week 1, as they ran for 73 yards and threw for 202. Bryan Scott looked like a competent quarterback, even if his average yards per attempt was only 5.6. The Stars did end up losing the game and only scoring 17 points, but I didn’t come away thinking they were terrible. The Maulers, on the other hand, were not so good. They got down 17-0 early, didn’t score any points until the 3rd quarter, and the field goal they eventually scored were their only points of the game.
Now, the Bandits looked like a good defense, but at the same time, Pittsburgh didn’t do themselves any favors. Neither quarterback played well, and they averaged under 3 yards per carry. This number of 36 isn’t big by any stretch, but it means that Philadelphia would have to put up at least 24 points themselves because I don’t see Pittsburgh scoring more than 10 in this one. The under hit on 3 of 4 games last week, and while I am hoping the play improves some in Week 2 of the USFL, I’m going to bang the under in most games for another week.
Birmingham Stallions vs Houston Gamblers prediction: Stallions -3 (-110)
The Stallions are the only team with a “home-field advantage” in this league, as they play all of their games in Birmingham. Given what some of the stands looked like last weekend, I’m not sure how much of an advantage it is.
Houston performed well last week in their opener, when J’Mar Smith came in for an injured Alex McGough and threw for 156 yards and the game-winning touchdown, while Smith also ran for another touchdown. The Houston front seven appeared to be one of the best in the league after one week as MMA fighter Reggie Northrup led a group that bottled up Michigan most of the game. However, I think the Birmingham offense led by Osirus Mitchell and Victor Bolden Jr through the air is going to succeed.
I also expect the Stallions to rush for more than 72 yards after Michigan moved it well against the Gamblers in Week 1. While I like the Houston offense, I am not ready to trust Clayton Thorson at quarterback and have more faith in the Birmingham offense. I would love for this number to be 2.5 instead of three, but Birmingham was the highest-scoring offense in Week 1, and I expect another successful performance this weekend.
USFL Week 2 best player prop: De’Andre Johnson (NJ Generals) over 30.5 rushing yards (-110)
Teams in the USFL rotated quarterbacks much more than expected, and the team that had the most success with rotation was definitely the New Jersey Generals. They have an interesting one-two punch with Luis Perez and De’Andre Johnson. While we knew Johnson’s accuracy might be erratic, we also knew that he had some wheels. However, we didn’t expect him to be New Jersey’s leading rusher with 98 yards on the ground with a touchdown.
This week’s opponent, the Panthers, should be much more prepared for Johnson to come in the game and run the ball. However, he did show the ability to throw the ball some, so you can’t just naturally assume when he comes in that he is going to run. I expected the line for this prop to be close to 50 yards after last week’s game, so given the low yardage number and Johnson’s dynamic ability to run the ball, this seems like a great player prop.
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