The Week 5 slate brought another pair of tough betting breaks for our predictions. The Gamblers lost to the Maulers on the last play of the game and the Stars blew a multi-quarter lead, eventually losing and failing to cover the spread against the undefeated Stallions.
While the Stallions and Generals have established themselves as reliable week-to-week options, the rest of the league has proven difficult to figure out, with even previously winless Pittsburgh showing some unexpected offensive firepower thanks to a change at quarterback in Week 5.
We’ll look to change things up this week on a couple of bet types to shake out of the funk, focusing on some first-half wagers and other conventional full game bets.
All USFL Week 6 betting odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook and current as of Thursday, May 19 at 10 a.m. ET.
- Juan Blanco USFL Week 5 Betting Record: 1-3
- Juan Blanco USFL Season Betting Record: 7-13
USFL Best Bets: Tampa Bay Bandits vs Philadelphia Stars
Tampa Bay Bandits vs Philadelphia Stars Prediction
The Bandits impressively came through against what had been a stingy Panthers defense in Week 5, notching a 27-20 victory that saw Tampa Bay achieve a season-high point total. This week, the matchup gets easier on paper for the Jordan Ta’amu-led offense, as the Stars have allowed a league-high 125 points.
The Bandits have struggled to put together a consistent running game, but Philadelphia’s porous run defense may be just the cure for what ails Tampa Bay. The Stars allowed another 155 rushing yards to the Stallions in Week 5 and have similarly struggled to slow down teams on the ground all season.
That’s good news for Tampa Bay’s goal of operating a balanced attack, even if BJ Emmons remains out of action with his thigh injury. Juwan Washington has stepped in the last two weeks and scored three total touchdowns.
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The Stars impressively had the undefeated Stallions on the ropes for a solid portion of their Week 5 matchup before allowing matters to get away from them. Philadelphia continued to run a reasonably effective offense behind Case Cookus, who should draw another start in Week 6 in place of the injured Bryan Scott (lower leg).
Philadelphia also may explore giving Paul Terry a bit more run out of the backfield, as the Eastern New Mexico State product has been exponentially more efficient than Matt Colburn. After coming back from a hamstring injury last week but not seeing any action, speedy Darnell Holland could also be in line for a resurgence.
The Bandits allowed over 300 passing yards to Shea Patterson in Week 5 after the Panthers’ signal-caller hadn’t even cracked 200 in any of his previous USFL appearances. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Stars’ passing game, which is already among the better ones in the league, got going here. Nevertheless, I see the Bandits having just enough to pull out a relatively high-scoring win.
Tampa Bay Bandits 24, Philadelphia Stars 20
Bandits vs Stars Best Bet: Over 40.5 Points (-110)
WAGER: 1 Unit
Each team should be able to exploit some defensive weaknesses of the other squad, which will help lead to an offensive-centric matchup.
Ta’amu should significantly benefit from being able to run a balanced offense, something that’s helped keep him away from turnovers the last two weeks.
Meanwhile, Cookus should be even more comfortable in the offense after last week’s performance. And although the Bandits’ defense is solid overall, he should be able to lead his team to some points, potentially benefitting from a more effective ground attack if Holland and Terry take center stage.
Given the offensive outlook for each team, I like the Over to hit in our USFL Bet of the Day.
USFL Best Bets: Michigan Panthers vs Birmingham Stallions
Michigan Panthers vs Birmingham Stallions Prediction
The Panthers surprised on both sides of the ball in Week 5.
On the one hand, Shea Patterson displayed a passing prowess that he’d shown no prior hint of in previous games. That was especially critical in a game in which Reggie Corbin, who had rushed for 287 yards and two touchdowns across the prior two contests, was limited to 28 yards on 12 carries.
However, Michigan’s defense suffered an atypical letdown. The Panthers allowed 27 points despite the Bandits having over 11 minutes less time of possession, running 21 fewer plays, and gaining 134 fewer total yards. The Panthers allowed the game-winning touchdown on a five-play, 62-yard drive that snapped a 20-20 tie and then fumbled on a subsequent last-gasp drive.
The Stallions had more of a scare than usual against the Stars before scoring 16 unanswered points in the second half to remain undefeated.
Birmingham gave Alex McGough a shot under center to open the game, but he was pulled after going 4-for-11 for 50 yards with a touchdown and an interception. J’Mar Smith provided the spark Birmingham needed with 203 yards and two total touchdowns (one pass, one rush).
Running back C.J. Marable was the ideal complement, rushing for 114 yards and a touchdown. That gave Skip Holtz‘s squad a balanced attack that ran 75 plays and racked up 377 total yards. Meanwhile, the defense got its act together after a slow start and ultimately limited Philadelphia to 253 total yards.
The Stallions show no signs of slowing down as long as Smith is under center. And although the Panthers present a much tougher defensive matchup than the Stars, Birmingham should continue to thrive in Week 6. Meanwhile, Patterson will be hard-pressed to replicate his Week 5 success against a Stallions defense whose pass rush is the league’s best.
Birmingham Stallions 27, Michigan Panthers 17
Panthers vs Stallions Best Bet: Stallions -4 1st Half (-110)
WAGER: 1 Unit
The Stallions got off to a slow start last week against a more cohesive offense. Still, Birmingham’s defense should take control earlier against a Panthers offense averaging a modest 17.4 points per game.
Michigan is likely to struggle to establish much balance on offense, as Patterson should have little time to throw. On defense, the Panthers have now notably allowed 30 first-half points over the last two games, which should give the Stallions enough cushion to establish a solid halftime lead.
USFL Best Bets: Pittsburgh Maulers vs New Orleans Breakers
Pittsburgh Maulers vs New Orleans Breakers Prediction
The Maulers were the surprise of Week 5, with head coach Kirby Smith making the key decision to pivot from an ineffective Kyle Lauletta to newly signed Vad Lee at quarterback. The James Madison alum lit up a previously moribund Maulers passing attack by throwing for 170 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning score to Bailey Gaither as time expired.
Gaither now has back-to-back 100-yard efforts (Weeks 2 and 5), while fellow wideout Tre Walker has a 19-202 line over his last two outings. In other words, while Wilson’s preferred method of attack — a Garret Groshek/Madre London-led running game — struggles for production each week, the passing game could be set to take flight.
The Breakers continue to boast one of the league’s deeper offenses, but New Orleans is just 3-2 after dropping a 27-17 decision to the Generals in Week 5. Kyle Sloter slogged through his first truly poor game under center, completing 15-of-36 passes for 155 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Jordan Ellis was also stymied on the ground to the tune of 3.5 yards per carry. And although receivers Jonathan Adams and Johnnie Dixon still caught touchdowns, the Breakers’ attack was limited to just 270 total yards. Additionally, New Orleans’ aggressive defense uncharacteristically faltered, giving up 401 total yards to New Jersey and allowing Generals signal-caller De’Andre Johnson to put together several long drives.
The Maulers’ passing game has talent, and they also have film to learn from when it comes to attacking the Breakers’ secondary. Meanwhile, New Orleans has plenty of offensive talent despite the sluggish game last week, and Pittsburgh’s defense has allowed the third-most points in the league (112).
New Orleans Breakers 24, Pittsburgh Maulers 20
Maulers vs Breakers Best Bet: Over 35 Points (-110)
WAGER: 1 Unit
The Breakers are averaging 22 points per game, and Sloter can play much better than last week, especially considering the pass-catching weapons he has.
Ellis is also likely due to bounce back given the drop in caliber of competition, allowing New Orleans to mount several successful drives.
Then, a reenergized Maulers offense should lean heavier on the pass this week as Wilson looks to highlight his team’s strength and try to notch a second straight win.
USFL Best Bets: Houston Gamblers vs New Jersey Generals
Houston Gamblers vs New Jersey Generals Prediction
The Gamblers suffered the most heartbreaking defeat of Week 5, falling to the Maulers on the game’s final play. Clayton Thorson helped Houston stay close, completing 11-of-24 passes for 165 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Gamblers running back Mark Thompson remained a force to be reckoned with, gaining 80 yards on 17 carries. Head coach Kevin Sumlin would love to run a more efficient air attack, but Thorson’s limitations make that a tricky proposition.
On the other hand, the Generals are arguably close to rivaling the undefeated Stallions for the mantle of the best team in the league.
New Jersey gave De’Andre Johnson his first full-game opportunity under center in Week 5 against the Breakers. The Florida Atlantic alum validated that decision with a 203-yard performance through the air that he complemented with 39 rushing yards and a pair of scores. Johnson’s dynamic two-way ability confounds defenses and helps open up running lanes for Darius Victor and Trey Williams.
Meanwhile, the Generals would do well to keep feeding wideout KaVontae Turpin as many touches as possible. The TCU alum posted his first 100-yard effort in Week 5 and has also seen multiple rushing attempts in each game. His rapport with Johnson could undoubtedly pay off this week against the Gamblers’ defense.
New Jersey should have its way here on the offensive end to notch a comfortable win.
New Jersey Generals 28, Houston Gamblers 17
Gamblers vs Generals Best Bet: Generals -4 (-110)
WAGER: 1 Unit
New Jersey’s defense should be able to goad the mistake-prone Thorson into some turnovers, setting up the Generals’ well-balanced offense with some favorable field position on multiple occasions.
Additionally, the Generals could take Thompson out of the game plan early by building a big lead and forcing Houston to become one-dimensional. New Jersey has a +26 point differential after winning their last three games by eight, eight, and 10 points, and they should be in line to cover comfortably here.