Underdogs fight hard in wonky regular-season finales


Underdogs fight hard in wonky regular-season finales

We’ve made it. The final week of the USFL regular season. Thank you to all who have followed my picks this year — it’s been an interesting experience — and now we march into what is probably the most interesting week from a gambling perspective.

Week 10 of the USFL regular season will likely play out much like Week 18 of the NFL regular season. Playoff teams could rest their starters, so we have no idea what to expect in a few of these matchups. Lower your unit, your half-unit, whatever it may be. This isn’t the week to pay the mortgage. We can save some more fun plays for next week.

For USFL championship odds, click here. Let’s jump into the picks.

USFL ATS record: 20-16
USFL straight up record: 25-11

All odds are via Caesars Sportsbook

Philadelphia Stars at New Jersey Generals (-2.5)
Saturday, 12 p.m. ET (USA Network)
ATS records: Stars (5-4), Generals (5-4)

This is pretty wild. The Stars and Generals will play each other this week, and then next week in the playoffs as well. The way I view it, head coaches Bart Andrus and Mike Riley won’t want to give much away in terms of game-planning. Both teams should probably start their reserves and prepare for next week. There is something to be said about establishing some momentum for yourself entering the postseason, but that takes a back seat in my mind if I have to play the team I’ll face in a do-or-die situation the very next week.

The Stars are on a four-game winning streak, and the Generals haven’t lost since way back in Week 1. There isn’t much of a point in betting this matchup, but I’ll take the favorite.

The pick: Generals -2.5
Projected score: Generals 20-17

Birmingham Stallions (-3.5) at Tampa Bay Bandits
Saturday, 4 p.m. ET (Fox)
ATS records: Stallions (6-3), Bandits (3-6)

The Stallions began the season 6-0 ATS, but are 0-3 ATS over the last three weeks. The main headline, of course, is Birmingham losing its first game of the season last week to the Houston Gamblers, but I don’t know how much stock we want to put into that outcome. Vegas still views the Stallions as the favorite to win the USFL Championship.

The Stallions would like to create some momentum for themselves after a bad couple weeks, but I’m sure Skip Holtz wants to keep his team healthy as well. I’m going to bet on the underdog Bandits and hope that the Stallions either mail this one in, or just fail to cover the spread.

The pick: Bandits +3.5
Projected score: Stallions 21-18

Michigan Panthers (-2.5) at Pittsburgh Maulers
Sunday, 12 p.m. ET (USA Network)
ATS records: Panthers (3-6), Maulers (4-5)

Here’s a game we can feel maybe a bit more comfortable betting on. While the Panthers and Maulers won’t be in the playoffs, I would guess they want to finish out the season in a strong fashion as opposed to just going through the motions. I could be wrong, we’ll see. These are the two worst teams in the league.

The Panthers haven’t won a game since May 1, and that actually came against the Maulers. While Michigan is on the longest active losing streak in the league, it has kept games relatively close when Josh Love has played. The Panthers lost by two points to the Generals last week, and lost to the New Orleans Breakers in overtime three weeks ago. Love did not play in the 46-24 loss to the Stars two weeks ago. The quarterback situation this week will be interesting to watch, as Eric Barriere and Love both took snaps last week.

The Maulers have held a soft spot in my heart. Vad Lee is my favorite quarterback on the team, and he fights to the end. So does this team as a whole, as we saw last week. I’ll take a flier on the Maulers.

The pick: Maulers +2.5
Projected score: Maulers 24-21

New Orleans Breakers (-3) at Houston Gamblers
Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
ATS records: Breakers (6-3), Gamblers (4-5)

I’m proud of my ATS win last week for New Orleans. That defense came out vs. Tampa Bay and dominated from the jump. Jerod Fernandez forced two fumbles in the first half, and New Orleans recorded three total sacks in the first two quarters. The Breakers also have the best passing offense in the league, as they average 204.1 passing yards per game, but are they going to be throwing the ball all over the field after clinching a playoff spot?

The Gamblers handed the Stallions their first loss of the season last week, which is something we should not completely overlook. The defense recorded a safety, an interception and two sacks. I’ll take an upset in this matchup with New Orleans looking toward the postseason.

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