USFL Picks, Betting Odds, and Predictions for Week 1

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  • It’s the second coming of the USFL, which is kicking off its season on four fronts on Saturday, April 16
  • Longest spread of the week is listing the Tampa Bay Bandits as four-point favorites over the Pittsburgh Maulers
  • Shortest spread is given to the New Orleans Breakers, 1-point picks over the Philadelphia Stars

What are the odds that the USFL can succeed where the AAF and the XFL didn’t?

Spring football in the USA is a lot like the blooming of the tulips. They come out all robust, offering hope, excitement and enthusiasm. And before you know it, they’re gone.

The Alliance of American Football (2018) and the second edition of the XFL (2019) both failed to make it to the finish line of their inaugural campaign. The XFL plans to give it a third go next spring, believing in the motto if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

The original USFL lasted from 1983-85 and featured future NFL stars such as Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Hershel Walker, Doug Flutie and Reggie White. Then they decided to switch to a fall schedule, an idea championed by New Jersey Generals owner Donald Trump. The league shriveled up and died before the idea could be implemented.

Wonder whatever happened to that Trump fellow?

The new USFL isn’t about superstars or challenging the NFL for football supremacy. The team names are the same but there won’t be any household names on display. However, there will be football and college football betting lines and that’s never a bad thing.

As Week 1 of the USFL season prepares for kickoff, let’s take a look at the odds:

USFL Week 1 Odds

Game Time (ET) Team Moneyline Spread Total
Saturday, April 16 New Jersey Generals +130 +3.5 (-115) O 42.5 (-115)
7:30pm Birmingham Stallions -170 -3.5 (-115) U 42.5 (-115)
Game Time (ET) Team Moneyline Spread Total
Sunday, April 17 Houston Gamblers +125 +3 (-115) O 43 (-115)
2:00pm Michigan Panthers -160 -3 (-115) U 43 (-115)
Game Time (ET) Team Moneyline Spread Total
Sunday, April 17 Philadelphia Stars +100 +1 (-115) O 43 (-115)
4:00pm New Orleans Breakers -130 -1 (-115) U 43 (-115)
Game Time (ET) Team Moneyline Spread Total
Sunday, April 17 Tampa Bay Bandits -195 -4 (-115) U 41 (-115)
8:00pm Pittsburgh Maulers +155 +4 (-115) O 41 (-115)

Odds as of April 16th at Caesars Sportsbook.

All USFL games are being played at Legion Field and Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Ala. Television broadcasts are being shared by FOX Sports and NBC.

The shortest odds on the Week 1 docket see the New Orleans Breakers as a 1-point pick over the Philadelphia Stars. By contrast, bettors can access -4 odds on the Tampa Bay Bandits over the Pittsburgh Maulers. Those are Week 1’s longest odds. Both the Stars-Breakers game and the Michigan Panthers-Houston Gamblers are given a share of the week’s highest total at 43 points.

Do Stallions Hold Home-Field Advantage?

With all of the games being played in one city, it certainly will keep the operating costs down for the USFL. But will this also be providing a huge advantage for the Birmingham Stallions?

If the locals opt to buy in and get behind Birmingham’s team, they could offer a significant home-field edge. The Stallions are coached by Skip Holtz and their biggest name plays on defense, middle linebacker Scooby Wright. He won the Nagurski Trophy, Lombardi Award and Bednarik Award at Arizona in 2014. Alex McGough, a 2018 Seattle Seahawks draftee, is the Stallions’ quarterback.

Generals coach Mike Riley is known for generaling explosive offensive teams. He has coached just about everywhere – the NFL, CFL and NCAA. He also has spring football experience with the AAF’s San Antonio Commanders and XFL’s Seattle Dragons. He’s brought along his San Antonio QB Luis Perez. De’Andre Johnson, famous for his role on ESPN’s Last Chance U, is also at QB for the Generals.

Pick: New Jersey Generals +3.5 (-115).

Michigan Man At Helm Of Panthers

There’s actually a buzz across the state of Michigan about the return of the Panthers. They were the original champions of the inaugural USFL in 1983. The NFL’s Detroit Lions haven’t won a title since the Eisenhower Administration, so the trumph instantly earned the Panthers a place in the hearts of Michiganders.

It doesn’t hurt their popularity that the second edition Panthers are being helmed by former Michigan Wolverines QB Shea Patterson. He beat out 2016 NFL first-round pick Paxton Lynch for the starting job. Head coach is Jeff Fisher, who took the Tennessee Titans to their only Super Bowl appearance.

Houston Gamblers QB Clayton Thorson passed for 10,731 yards at Northwestern. He served NFL  practice squad stints with the Cowboys, Eagles and Giants. Linebacker Beniquez Brown was second in the AAF with 46 tackles.

Pick: Michigan Panthers -3 (-115).

Stars Were Two-Time USFL Champs

Philadelphia’s Stars wore back-to-back USFL crowns in 1984-85. Head coach Bart Andrus and QB Bryan Scott were together in The Spring League, winning the 2020 championship. Tight end Bug Howard caught 124 passes in three years at North Carolina.

New Orleans Breakers coach Larry Fedora was 79-62 as bench boss as Southern Miss and North Carolina. His QB is Kyle Sloter, who was briefly with the Minnesota Vikings.

Pick: Philadelphia Stars +1 (-115).

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Maulers Planning To Ground And Pound

Pittsburgh Maulers’ coach Kirby Wilson was a running backs coach in the NFL for eight years. Perhaps that explains his game plan to build his offense around a power running game. It would be a great scheme were this the 1980s USFL. Is there such a thing as three yards and a cloud of field turf?

Pittsburgh will build the run game around a pair of Big Ten tailbacks, which should thrill the ghosts of Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler. Garrett Groshek, who averaged 5.2 yards per carry at Wisconsin, will be the main ball carrier, spelled by former Michigan State Spartan Madre London. Luckily for the Maulers, they also have former All-American punter Max Duffy, who figures to be a busy man.

Todd Haley, coach of the Tampa Bay Bandits, will run a more modern up-tempo offensive system. The former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator has Jordan Ta’amu under center. Ta’amu emerged as one of the most exciting players in the XFL with the St Louis BattleHawks. The former Ole Miss QB was the second player chosen in the USFL Draft.

Pick: Tampa Bay Bandits -4 (-115)

The post USFL Picks, Betting Odds, and Predictions for Week 1 appeared first on Sports Betting Dime.

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Author: Renee Castillo