The Week 8 slate didn’t treat us poorly betting-wise and had the Gamblers gained just a handful more yards as the clock wound down against the Bandits and gotten into the end zone, we actually would have been celebrating a 3-1 week.
Instead, we will look to accomplish the feat, at minimum, in Week 9, with one of four playoff spots remaining and the two teams vying for it, the Breakers and Bandits, meeting head-to-head.
With multiple teams also now completely out of contention, it’s fair to question how much fight those clubs will have, especially if they fall into early deficits. With an eye on those circumstances, let’s forge ahead with this week’s picks.
All USFL Week 9 betting odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook and current as of Thursday, June 9, at 3 p.m. ET.
- Juan Blanco USFL Week 8 Betting Record: 2-2
- Juan Blanco USFL Season Betting Record: 11-21
USFL Best Bets: New Jersey Generals vs Michigan Panthers
New Jersey Generals vs Michigan Panthers Prediction
The Generals handled the Maulers in a fairly efficient fashion in Week 8 with a 29-18 victory. Meanwhile, the Panthers once again fought hard, but lost 46-24 to the Stars.
The Generals went with Luis Perez under center from start to finish for a second straight week despite De’Andre Johnson having recovered from his ankle injury. The result was yet another performance of better than 70% passing for Perez, who has now eclipsed that mark in four consecutive games.
He once again displayed great chemistry with the highly versatile Kavontae Turpin and also had a productive connection going with both J’Mon Moore and Alonzo Moore, but the ground attack was the star of the game. Darius Victor recorded 87 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while Trey Williams added 66 yards on 12 carries.
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The Panthers rolled with Paxton Lynch at quarterback against Philadelphia, and early on, it looked to be a prudent decision. However, the one-time pick of the Denver Broncos ultimately began to regress, finishing the game with a pair of interceptions and a back-breaking fumble at the Stars’ goal line.
The critical mistake sullied an otherwise solid 251-yard, two-touchdown effort for Lynch, who was also hurt by the absence of leading rusher Reggie Corbin due to injury.
Jeff Fisher continues to have his team play hard, and the Panthers are certainly not without talent in the pass-catching corps. However, Michigan’s defense has gone from allowing 0-17 points in its first three games to yielding between 26 and 46 in each contest since.
Even if the Generals don’t keep their foot on the gas the entire game, there’s too much talent on that side of the ball and a stingy enough defense for a double-digit New Jersey win.
New Jersey Generals 27, Michigan Panthers 17
Generals vs Panthers Best Bet: Generals Moneyline and Under 47 Points (+147)
WAGER: 1 Unit
The Generals have it all on offense — efficient quarterback play, a multi-threat backfield, and a diverse and explosive group of pass-catchers, all reaping the benefits of an impressive offensive line. New Jersey also has a strong defense that has limited all but two opponents, one of them being the undefeated Stallions in Week 1, to under 20 points.
Lynch is a quarterback that is going to have his moments, yet likely turn the ball over frequently the more he plays, as was the case last week. Even if Corbin can suit up, Michigan is going to have its fair share of struggles moving the ball consistently down the field.
As such, I see the Generals putting up their usual total in the 20s on the way to a win while limiting Michigan to under 20 points for the second time this season, making the parlay consisting of both of those outcomes our USFL bet of the day.
USFL Best Bets: Houston Gamblers vs Birmingham Stallions
Houston Gamblers vs Birmingham Stallions Prediction
The Gamblers went with Kenji Bahar at quarterback in place of the injured Clayton Thorson (elbow) in Week 8 and got serviceable numbers, but very little meaningful production in a 13-3 loss to the Bandits.
The Stallions had a low-scoring affair of their own, but came out on the winning end of a 10-9 contest against the Breakers to keep their undefeated streak going.
Bahar threw for 159 yards and added 49 rushing yards in his first start, and he should be even more in sync with his offense this week. However, the absence of Mark Thompson (shoulder) clearly impacted the Gamblers’ ability to keep the defense honest, and fill-in lead back Devwah Whaley only contributed 57 total yards.
Meanwhile, the Stallions saw quarterback J’Mar Smith go back to using his legs with success after backing off his running in recent starts, as the mobile signal-caller gained 45 yards on seven attempts against New Orleans. Smith threw for a relatively modest 183 yards and was missing leading receiver Victor Bolden (hamstring).
Bolden’s status for this week is still to be determined, but the chemistry Smith showed with Marlon Williams (7-109) certainly supports the notion the Stallions’ air attack can weather another absence if necessary. Bo Scarbrough and C.J. Marable, who combined for 74 rushing yards in the Week 8 win against a tough New Orleans defense, are also both healthy and can provide excellent balance.
The Stallions have locked up their playoff spot, but luckily for coach Skip Holtz, he should have no problem keeping his team focused with the chance to remain the league’s only undefeated team as one very big carrot.
Houston will have trouble keeping continuity in the form of extended drives against this elite Stallions defense as well, leading to my prediction of a double-digit Birmingham win.
Birmingham Stallions 27, Houston Gamblers 13
Gamblers vs Stallions Best Bet: Stallions Moneyline and Under 43.5 Points (+118)
WAGER: 1 Unit
The Gamblers will undoubtedly play hard and always have a chance to create some havoc with their aggressive feast-or-famine defensive unit. However, they are playing a well-oiled machine in the Stallions that are extremely cohesive at this point in the season, and as demonstrated last week, take great pride in their undefeated record.
Whether it’s Thorson or Behar at quarterback, Houston will face plenty of pressure from Birmingham’s defense, which has allowed a league-low 134 points and recorded 21 sacks. If Thompson is sidelined once again, matters will be even more difficult for the Gamblers, who have relied on his expertise on the ground to help keep their offense balanced.
With more than enough offensive weapons on its side and a vulnerable defense opposing them, I see the highly motivated Stallions getting one step closer to a perfect regular season and helping the Under hit with another strong defensive effort.
USFL Best Bets: Tampa Bay Bandits vs New Orleans Breakers
Tampa Bay Bandits vs New Orleans Breakers Prediction
The Bandits, likely inspired by the Breakers’ loss to the Stallions a day earlier that kept Tampa Bay’s playoff hopes alive, squeaked out a low-scoring 13-3 win over the Gamblers in Week 8.
New Orleans was on the wrong side of a squeaker, dropping the 10-9 decision to the Stallions that came down to a late interception by Birmingham, preventing Larry Fedora‘s club from clinching a playoff spot.
Jordan Ta’amu undoubtedly has talent, but he does tend to struggle at times against aggressive units like that of the Gamblers and the Breakers’ squad he is up against this week.
Ta’amu threw for just 98 yards with a touchdown and interception against Houston. Back in Week 2 against New Orleans, the Ole Miss product had an even poorer showing with 62 passing yards and an interception on 8-for-18 passing and was eventually benched in a 34-3 blowout loss.
The Bandits’ consistent issues running the ball efficiently certainly don’t help. Juwan Washington was only able to gain three yards per carry versus Houston, and while B.J. Emmons was able to average 4.2 yards per rush on his 12 carries, that marked only the second time all season he’d cracked three yards per tote.
The Breakers’ Kyle Sloter has also been a bit up and down at times this season despite an impressive supporting cast of skill position players. Sloter has one sub-100-yard passing effort, and has an unsightly 9:10 TD:INT ratio for the season.
He was stellar against the Bandits in that Week 2 matchup, however, throwing for 266 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Sloter threw three picks in Week 8, but that was against the ball-hawking Stallions defense.
In contrast, Tampa Bay has just three interceptions all season and could certainly have trouble trying to slow down a diverse, deep pass-catching corps that includes Taywan Taylor, Sal Cannella, Jonathan Adams, and Johnnie Dixon, who combined for 19 receptions against Birmingham and have the talent to find the open areas in Tampa Bay’s soft coverage.
The Breakers have the talent advantage against the Bandits up and down the roster, not to mention the confidence stemming from their lopsided Week 2 win. Additionally, New Orleans isn’t going to let a second straight opportunity to reach the postseason slip away, leading to my prediction of a hard-fought win.
New Orleans Breakers 24, Tampa Bay Bandits 17
Breakers vs Bandits Best Bet: Breakers Moneyline (-160)
WAGER: 1 Unit
The Breakers are undoubtedly coming in with a certain level of frustration after their inability to lock up a playoff spot last week and sully the Stallions’ still-unblemished record in the process.
However, this matchup does give Fedora’s club the perfect shot at redemption by allowing it to punch its postseason ticket while simultaneously eliminating its one remaining competitor.
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This should turn out to be one of the season’s most hotly-contested games given the stakes, and I believe that points could ultimately be at a relative premium for both sides. Each squad has flashed some impressive defense this season in the majority of games, and although both Sloter and Ta’amu are in the upper echelon of signal-callers, each can be goaded into mistakes.
The total here is the lowest of the week and I’m tempted to go with the Under, but my confidence really lies with a Breakers win.
USFL Best Bets: Philadelphia Stars vs Pittsburgh Maulers
Philadelphia Stars vs Pittsburgh Maulers Prediction
The Stars took another step toward establishing themselves as a legitimate threat for the USFL title with a 46-24 blowout victory over the Panthers in Week 8. Meanwhile, the Maulers once again didn’t have nearly enough on the offensive end, dropping a 29-18 decision to the Generals.
Philadelphia saw Case Cookus explode for his best game as a pro by far, with the Northern Arizona product throwing for 247 yards and four touchdowns and adding 102 rushing yards, 79 of them on a memorable touchdown jaunt in the second half against Michigan.
Matt Coburn served as an excellent complement to his quarterback’s exploits with 96 total yards and two touchdowns, extending a strong stretch of play for the versatile running back.
The defense also had its fair share of success after giving up some early yardage to Paxton Lynch and company, ultimately picking the Panthers signal-caller off twice and forcing a fumble.
Philadelphia’s defense still can struggle against the run and was arguably fortunate Corbin missed most of the game for Michigan, but their ability to harass quarterbacks into turnovers is above question.
The Maulers gave Roland Rivers a shot under center in Week 8 after he’d mopped up for Vad Lee a week earlier and he offered mixed results. Rivers was only able to complete 18-of-38 passes, but he managed a respectable 218 yards with a TD and interception. He also added 28 rushing yards and a rushing score, which notably made him Pittsburgh’s leading rusher on the night.
The Maulers do have a capable explosive back in Madre London, who inexplicably saw less opportunity than the plodding Garrett Groshek in Week 8. If head coach Kirby Wilson focuses heavily on the ground game to keep Philly’s offense off the field, there could certainly be some success to be had against a unit that’s allowed 153.8 rushing yards per game.
However, the talent disparity, especially between the offenses, is too much here. While I can see Pittsburgh having some success as most teams have against the Stars’ defense, I like Philly to simply outscore them with sheer efficiency and balance on its way to a double-digit victory.
Philadelphia Stars 28, Pittsburgh Maulers 17
Stars vs Maulers Best Bet: 1H Stars -4.5 (-110)
WAGER: 1 Unit
The Stars are shaping up as the team that no one will want to face in the postseason, as Cookus and company have hit their stride on offense.
Philly’s defense has yet to surrender under 20 points, but this could well finally be the week they accomplish the feat. And, despite their generosity on the scoreboard, there’s no questioning the unit’s ability to cause plenty of trouble — the Stars have 11 interceptions and 21 sacks.
Pittsburgh’s London could certainly exploit the Stars’ struggles against the run to an extent, but the Maulers’ sub-standard quarterback play will ultimately do them in. Meanwhile, Coburn could be set for a huge day against a Pittsburgh defense that’s had plenty of issues slowing down opposing ground attacks as well, conceding 141.1 rushing yards per game.
The Stars have their playoff spot locked up, but they’re naturally trying to head into the postseason with plenty of momentum. I like the prospects of a double-digit win here with the foundation set in the first half.