The upcoming USFL postseason is approaching, making the remaining games of the regular season even more significant as Week 9 begins. It’s worth noting that no team has secured a playoff spot yet, adding to the importance of these final games.
This week, each game carries playoff implications, starting with the Michigan Panthers and the Pittsburgh Maulers facing off in Canton on Saturday, live on FOX. Later in Memphis, the New Orleans Breakers and the Memphis Showboats will meet.
On Sunday, the Birmingham Stallions will play against the Houston Gamblers in Memphis, followed by the Philadelphia Stars taking on the New Jersey Generals to conclude the weekend’s action, broadcasted on FOX in Canton.
The Michigan Panthers (3-5) will face off against the Pittsburgh Maulers (2-6) this Saturday at noon Eastern Time on FOX.
The Michigan Panthers have endured a difficult and painful decline over the past six weeks of the season. However, they have an opportunity to put it all behind them with a victory on Saturday afternoon. which would bring them close to securing a spot in the USFL playoffs.
In order to clinch a playoff berth, the Panthers (3-5) must win their Saturday afternoon game against the Pittsburgh Maulers (2-6) at Noon ET on FOX. Also, rely on the Philadelphia Stars defeating the New Jersey Generals on Sunday night. A win would not only keep Michign’s playoff hopes alive but also give them a chance to compete for the division title and the top playoff seed in the North.
Making it to the Playoffs would be a great relief for Mike Nolan’s team. Considering that they have suffered five losses in their last six games following an impressive 2-0 start. One of those losses came against the Maulers in week 5. Where Pittsburgh dominated the Panthers in a 23-7 victory.
During that game, the Panthers surrendered 23 unanswered points after initially taking an early 7-0 lead. They struggled offensively, managing only 152 total yards and committing four turnovers. On the other side, completing 15 of 19 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns. While also rushing for 59 yards and a touchdown.
However, the Maulers’ victory on May 13 in Detroit was their last success. They have since Suffered three Consecutive losses, putting them on the verge of elimination. Nonetheless, a win in this upcoming game would keep their playoff hopes alive until the final week.
The Maulers came close to turning their fortunes around last week but experienced a heartbreaking 20-19 loss to the Houston Gamblers in Canton. Despite holding a 13-0 lead, they squandered the advantage and missed a late opportunity to take the lead. When Chris Blewitt failed to convert a 41-yard field goal with 1:55 remaining.
The latest league standings heading into this weekend 👀 pic.twitter.com/KHwm5NVY4Z
— USFL (@USFL) June 8, 2023
Nonetheless, the Pittsburgh Maulers are unlikely to exit the season quietly. Although Ray Horton’s team possesses the league’s worst offense, Averaging just 242.9 yards per game. They boast the top-ranked defense in the USFL. Led by LB Kyahva Tezino, who leads the league with 80 tackles. And former NFL LB Reuben Foster, the Maulers have surrendered a league-low of 260.4 yards per game.
Their success hinges on igniting their offense. The Maulers have scored only one or zero touchdowns in six out of their eight games this season. And have the league’s lowest average of 16.5 points per game. While Troy Willaims managed to throw two touchdowns in their previous encounter against the Panthers. He has only thrown a total of four throughout the season. Williams has also been the leading rusher for the Maulers, accumulating 294 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
On the other hand, the Michigan offense has fared slightly better, averaging 277.6 yards per game, ranking them sixth among the eight teams in the league. QB Josh Love has displayed signs of improvement, as evidenced by his performance in their recent 24-20 loss to New Orleans. Where he completed 22 of 32 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns. Love’s season total of 1,323 passing yards trails only Case Cookus of the Philadelphia Stars (1,785 in the North).
The New Orleans Breakers (5-3) will face off against the Memphis Showboats (5-3) this Saturday at 3 p.m. ET on PeacockTV.
With both the New Orleans Breakers and the Memphis Showboats tied at 5-3, their upcoming Saturday matchup at 3 p.m. ET carries significant weight in determining which team secures a postseason spot in the competitive USFL South Division.
The Showboats previously defeated the Breakers with a 17-10 victory in Week 5, kickstarting a five-game winning streak, the longest in the league. Meanwhile, New Orleans has struggled, losing three of their last four games.
In the previous week, the Breakers halted their three-game losing streak by securing a 24-20 victory over the Michigan Panthers, while the Showboats comfortably handled the New Jersey Generals with a 25-16 win in Week 8.
During the first half of the season, Hills led the league in rushing and was a top contender for offensive player of the year accolades. However, both Hills and the Breakers have struggled to maintain consistency in the running game over the latter half of the season, impacting their offensive effectiveness.
Hills averaged an impressive 130 yards per game and scored eight touchdowns across the first four games when the Breakers started with a 4-0 record. However, during the team’s 1-3 stretch in the past four games, Hills’ average has dropped to just 57 yards per game, with only one touchdown.
In their Week 5 encounter, the Showboats limited Hills to a season-low of 38 yards. Memphis boasts a strong defense, allowing an average of 99 rushing yards per game, ranking fifth in the USFL.
Despite leading the league with 613 rushing yards, Hills has encountered some challenges, including three fumbles, with two of them recovered by the opposing defense.
Memphis defensive coordinator Carnell Lake has successfully guided his group to perform exceptionally well when it matters the most, particularly toward the end of the season.
Throughout the Showboats’ five-game winning streak, Memphis has demonstrated remarkable defensive powers by limiting opponents to an average of just 11.2 points per game.
This represents a significant improvement compared to their three games of the season. Where they endured an 0-3 start and conceded an average of 33 points per game.
According to Memphis head coach Todd Haley, the key factor in the team’s defensive transformation was their ability to remain united and resilient despite facing adversity at the beginning of the year.
By staying together, the Showboats managed to overcome challenges and make substantial improvements on the defensive side of the ball.
The Birmingham Stallions (6-2) will face off against the Houston Gamblers (5-3) on Sunday at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. The game will be televised on PeacockTV.
With two games remaining in the USFL, the Birmingham Stallions find themselves in a familiar position. Leading the south division with a record of 6-2.
A win against the Houston Gamblers in Memphis on Sunday at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium (2 PM ET) would secure a playoff spot for the Stallions.
The gamblers are currently at 5-3. The team is in the playoff race and needs a victory to stay competitive within the division. The outcome of the game between New Orleans and Memphis this weekend will determine if either team reaches a record of 6-3. Houston’s head coach Curtis Johnson has guided his team to a strong performance in the later part of the season. Winning 5 out of 6 games.
The standout performer for the Birmingham Stallions has undoubtedly been their quarterback, Alex McGough, who is a strong contender for the league MVP title. McGough leads the league in passing touchdowns with 16 and boasts an impressive completion percentage of 68.1%. He ranks third in passing yards with 1,614 and has also contributed as a rusher, accumulating 337 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
However, what sets McGough apart is his ability to involve other playmakers in the offense. Running back C.J. Marable has become an integral part of the team’s offensive scheme, amassing 631 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns. Tight end Jace Sternberger has emerged as a potent threat in the red zone, recording 26 receptions for 375 yards and five touchdowns. McGough has also developed a strong connection with wide receiver Davion Davis, who has contributed 27 catches for 437 yards and four touchdowns.
For the Stallions to succeed, they will heavily rely on the performances of these three pass-catchers alongside McGough. Their effectiveness will be crucial, especially against a solid Houston defense that has limited opponents to an average of 19 points per game over their last six outings.
Running back Mark Thompson has been a dominant force for the Houston Gamblers, leading the USFL in touchdowns with 13 since his return from injury in Week 3. His powerful running style has made him difficult to stop for opposing defenses. However, to prevent defenses from stacking the box against Thompson, the Gamblers could benefit from generating big plays in the passing game.
Quarterback Chris Bahar had a solid performance in Houston’s narrow victory over the Pittsburgh Maulers last week, completing 11 out of 20 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. Throughout the season, Bahar has completed 59.2% of his passes for 1,326 yards, tallying eight touchdowns and eight interceptions.
One positive aspect for the Gamblers is their success in one-score games, boasting a 4-2 record in such contests. This highlights their ability to execute effectively during crucial moments. With a playoff spot still within their grasp, the performances of Bahar, Thompson, and other impactful players will be crucial down the stretch of the season.
The Philadelphia Stars (4-4) will face off against the New Jersey Generals (2-6) on Sunday at 7 PM ET. The game will be televised on FOX.
The Philadelphia Stars have an opportunity to change that narrative on Sunday night.
With a current record of 4-4, the Stars have the chance to secure a spot in the USFL playoffs by defeating the New Jersey Generals (2-6) on Sunday night. The game will take place at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. the match will be broadcasted on Fox and Fox Sports app at 7 PM ET.
In addition to clinching a playoff berth, a victory for the Stars could also result in them claiming the division title and the top seed in the North. This scenario would require the Michigan Panthers (3-5) to lose their game against the Pittsburgh Maulers (2-6) on Saturday afternoon.
Overall, the Stars have an opportunity to assert themselves as the leading team in the North division with a decisive victory on Sunday night. Potentially securing their playoff spot and divisional supremacy.
If the Philadelphia Stars manage to clinch the division title, it would be a well-deserved achievement given their recent performance.
Philadelphia Stars have emerged as the hottest team in the division over the past month. Stars turned their fortunes around after a 1-3 start to win three of their last four games and claim the top spot.
One of the Stars’ victories of this season came against the Generals in week 5.
Despite struggling to move the ball effectively, with just 166 total yards of offense, the Stars capitalized on their defense’s ability to force turnovers.
The game was ultimately decided by kicker Luis Aguilar’s record-breaking eight field goals, including a game-winning 55-yarder at the buzzer.
Consistency in generating offense has been a challenge for the Stars, especially in terms of yardage gained.
Led by QB Case Cookus, the Stars rank 5th in the league with avg of 280.1 yards per game. But they sit at the bottom in rushing yards. Average a mere 73 per game.
On the other side, the Generals boast the league’s stingiest defense. Which allowed just 19.1 points per game.
While the Generals’ playoff hopes are hanging by a thread due to their five-game losing streak. They have encountered some tough breaks along the way.
Three of their losses were decided by a field goal. They didn’t suffer a defeat by more than a touchdown until their last game against the Memphis Showboats. Which ended in a 25-16 loss.
Even then, it was still a one-score game, considering the three-point PAT option in the league.
The Generals may have found some encouragement from their latest game, as backup quarterback Dakota Prokup displayed an impressive performance off the bench.
He led the team on a comeback, accumulating 76 rushing yards and completing 14 of 25 passes for 128 yards.
If Prokup starts on Sunday night, the Generals’ offense could present a formidable challenge for the Stars.
Motivated not only by the opportunity to secure a playoff spot but also by their heartbreaking loss to the Birmingham Stallions in their previous game, the Stars will aim to bounce back.
QB Case Cookus was exceptional in the last game. Cookus threw 265 yards and 3 touchdowns with Corey Coleman, serving as a reliable target.
Despite being minutes away from victory and a playoff berth, the Stars conceded a late touchdown to the Stallions.
This loss should provide extra motivation for them to perform at their best against the Generals.