What a difference a year makes. Pittsburgh Maulers head coach Ray Horton took over a team that finished 1-9 last season and started this year 1-3. But the patient Horton managed to steady the ship, leading Pittsburgh to a 3-3 record the rest of the way for a 4-6 overall and an unlikely playoff berth in his first year leading the team. With perhaps the best defense in the league, Horton’s Maulers face another unlikely team in the 4-6 Michigan Panthers for the USFL North Championship on Saturday in Canton, Ohio.
New Orleans Breakers head coach John DeFilippo understands there won’t be any surprises he can sneak past Skip Holtz when his team faces the defending champion Birmingham Stallions in the USFL South Championship on Sunday. The two teams see each other every day in the Birmingham hub and have already played twice this season. Safe to say, Sunday’s matchup will be more about players making plays and less about the scheme.
The South teams play each other in Week 10 -- Stallions vs. Showboats on Saturday and Breakers vs. Gamblers on Sunday.
There's a strong argument to be made that the USFL's four best teams reside in the South Division, and its four worst in the North. Take the Pittsburgh Maulers, for example -- a team that was 2-6 last week yet still controls its playoff destiny.
The Week 10 games in the North Division pit the Maulers vs. the Generals and the Stars vs. the Panthers. If the Stars win, they'll be the No. 1 seed, with the Maulers-Generals winner the No. 2 seed. A Stars loss makes things very interesting: The Stars, Panthers, and Maulers-Generals winner would finish in a three-way tie for first at 4-6, meaning tiebreakers would decide the top two seeds and who's out of the Playoffs.
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Saturday, June 24, 2023
Michigan Panthers at Pittsburgh Maulers -3, OU 38
On Saturday, June 24, 2023, the Michigan Panthers will face the Pittsburgh Maulers at Tom Benson Stadium in Canton, OH. Kickoff time is set for 8 p.m. ET with television coverage on NBC.
Last week the Pittsburgh Maulers beat the New Jersey Generals by a score of 26-6 as 3.5-point dogs. The game went under the total of 40.5. As a result, Pittsburgh has a record of 4-6, good for 1st place in the USFL North Division. Pittsburgh has USFL metrics of 8th for offensive yardage, 4th for rushing yardage, 8th for passing yardage, and 7th for scoring offense. On defense, Pittsburgh ranks 1st for total yards allowed, 2nd for rushing yards allowed, 1st for passing yards allowed, and 1st for points permitted.
Last week the Michigan Panthers beat the Philadelphia Stars by a score of 23-20 as 1.5-point dogs. The game went over the total of 42.5. As a result, Michigan has a record of 4-6, good for 2nd place in the USFL North Division. Michigan has USFL metrics of 6th for offensive yardage, 6th for rushing yardage, 4th for passing yardage, and 8th for scoring offense. On defense, Michigan ranks 5th for total yards allowed, 6th for rushing yards allowed, 5th for passing yards allowed, and 6th for points permitted.
Just picked up by the Panthers on May 30, new quarterback E.J. Perry led Michigan to a surprising, come-from-behind win over Case Cookus and the Philadelphia Stars in the last game of the regular season. The Stars played in the USFL championship last year.
Like Horton, Michigan’s Mike Nolan made the postseason in his first season as head coach. The Panthers finished a disappointing 2-8 last season.
The Maulers swept the season series against the Panthers. Pittsburgh took a Week 5 contest against Michigan, 23-7 and then beat the Panthers again four weeks later in Canton, 19-7.
The Maulers won their last two games to reach the postseason, while the Panthers lost six of their last eight games after starting the season 2-0.
Bookmaker Best Bet: Pittsburgh Maulers
Sunday, June 25, 2023
New Orleans Breakers at Birmingham Stallions -3, OU 44
On Sunday, June 25, 2023, the Birmingham Stallions will face the New Orleans Breakers at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama. Kickoff time is set for 7 p.m. ET with television coverage on FOX.
Last week the New Orleans Breakers beat the Houston Gamblers by a score of 17-10 as 3.5-point favorites. The game went under the total of 44.5. As a result, New Orleans has a record of 7-3, good for 2nd place in the USFL South Division. New Orleans has USFL metrics of 2nd for offensive yardage, 5th for rushing yardage, 1st for passing yardage, and 2nd for scoring offense. On defense New Orleans ranks 2nd for total yards allowed, 3rd for rushing yards allowed, 3rd for passing yards allowed, and 2nd for points permitted.
Last week the Birmingham Stallions beat the Memphis Showboats by a score of 27-20 as 4-point favorites. The game went over the total of 43.5. As a result, Birmingham has a record of 8-2, good for 1st place in the USFL South Division. Birmingham has USFL metrics of 1st for offensive yardage, 3rd for rushing yardage, 2nd for passing yardage, and 1st for scoring offense. On defense, Birmingham ranks 7th for total yards allowed, 7th for rushing yards allowed, 6th for passing yards allowed, and 3rd for points permitted.
The teams split the two games played against each other this season. New Orleans won the Week 3 matchup 45-31, while the Stallions took the second game in Week 7, 24-20.
Birmingham finished the season on a five-game winning streak, while the Breakers won three straight to complete the regular season.
Bookmaker Best Bet: Birmingham Stallions
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