With two weeks in the books, the USFL is starting to show signs of separating into haves and have-nots. So far, the New Orleans Breakers appear to be the best team on both sides of the ball, while the Michigan Panthers haven’t yet found anything that even resembles an offense. The short season in the USFL means that each game is going to start taking on a greater meaning, and that means that struggling teams might start pressing in the coming weeks.
Here are the odds and lines in Week 3:
Tampa Bay Bandits vs. Houston Gamblers
Spread: TB -1.5 (-115) | HOU +1.5 (-115)
Moneyline: TB -125 | HOU -105
Total: 39.5 (-115)
Bandits vs. Gamblers Game Time: Saturday, 4 p.m. EST
Bandits vs. Gamblers Location: Protective Stadium, Birmingham, Ala.
Birmingham Stallions vs. New Orleans Breakers
Spread: BIR +3.5 (-115) | NO -3.5 (-115)
Moneyline: BIR +125 | NO -165
Total: 44.5 (-115)
Stallions vs. Breakers Game Time: Saturday, 8 p.m. EST
Stallions vs. Breakers Location: Protective Stadium, Birmingham, Ala.
Pittsburgh Maulers vs. Michigan Panthers
Spread: PIT +2.5 (-115) | MICH -2.5 (-115)
Moneyline: PIT +115| MICH -150
Total: 38.5 (-115)
Maulers vs. Panthers Game Time: Sunday, 2:30 p.m. EST
Maulers vs. Panthers Location: Protective Stadium, Birmingham, Ala.
New Jersey Generals vs. Philadelphia Stars
Spread: NJ +1.5 (-115) | PHI -1.5 (-115)
Moneyline: NJ -105 | TB -125
Total: 40.5 (-115)
Generals vs. Stars Game Time: Sunday, 8 p.m. EST
Generals vs. Stars Location: Protective Stadium, Birmingham, Ala.
We’ve got another week of division matchups, with one team guaranteed to be 3-0 and another guaranteed to fall to 0-3. These plays were a perfect 3-0 last week, so we’re hoping for more of the same. Here are my best bets for Week 3.
USFL Best Bet April 30: Birmingham Stallions-New Orleans Breakers Over 44.5 (-115), 8 p.m. EST, available at BetMGM
Birmingham has a pair of genuine finds in quarterback J’Mar Smith and running back C.J. Marable, and the Stallions are well aware that they are going to have to score to keep up with New Orleans’ attack. These might be the most complete offenses in the league at this point, as Kyle Sloter to Jonathan Adams has proven just as reliable for the Breakers as Smith to Marlon Williams was for Birmingham.
The reason I’m leaning over is that I don’t think Birmingham can slow down New Orleans based on the numbers we’ve seen from the Stallions to this point. Birmingham has given up 26 points per game, and that’s not going to cut it against an offense that can move through the air and the ground. That said, I think the Stallions will do enough on offense to send this over.
USFL Best Bet May 1: Pittsburgh Maulers-Michigan Panthers Under 38.5 (-115), 2:30 p.m. EST, available at BetMGM
Michigan has not gotten out of its own way on offense, but the Panther defense has been dynamite. Pittsburgh’s defense isn’t playing poorly either, as the Maulers’ opening weekend showing on defense helped them avoid getting embarrassed when the offense did nothing against Tampa Bay.
Michigan didn’t have a single drive go longer than 20 yards until the third quarter against New Jersey, and I don’t expect Shea Patterson to make a big jump between Week 2 and Week 3. I think this is a game where both teams will struggle to score more than 10 points, and this might be a game where 14 points are enough to win. I expect this total will land under, even as the lowest total of the week.
USFL Best Bet May 1: New Jersey Generals +1.5 (-115) vs. Philadelphia Stars, 8 p.m. EST, available at BetMGM
I do not trust Philadelphia’s run defense, which has looked fairly weak this season. That could be because the Stars had to open with New Orleans, but Pittsburgh didn’t look good on the ground in Week 1 and had no problem beating the Stars at the line. New Jersey has the league’s best running quarterback in DeAndre Johnson, and the Stars are giving up almost 150 rushing yards per game.
Philly will try to control the clock with short passes, but that seldom works when you’re up against a team who can run the ball and you don’t have a good run defense yourself. I think the Generals offer good value here.
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