USFL Championship Odds Preview and Best Bets

USFL Championship Odds Preview and Best Bets
USFL Championship Odds Preview and Best Bets

The United States Football League returns for its second season in its new incarnation. The original USFL played for three seasons from 1983 through 1985 and boasted the star power of names like Doug Flutie, Herschel Walker, Mike Rozier, Jim Kelly, and Reggie White, among many more.

2022 saw eight team names, all from that original USFL return. All games were played at Birmingham, Alabama’s “home base” as the league started. In 2023 the league is expanding to four different venues regionally appropriate for each team. This season the Tampa Bay Bandits have moved over to become the Memphis Showboats, also an original USFL name.

The Birmingham Stallions won the inaugural championship over the Philadelphia Stars in a thrilling 33-30 championship game with 20,000 in attendance. The New Jersey Generals won the league’s North Division with a record of 9-1, while the Birmingham Stallions claimed the South Division also at 9-1.

The Odds (Via Barstool Sportsbook)

  • Birmingham Stallions +300
  • New Jersey Generals +325
  • Philadelphia Stars +550
  • New Orleans Breakers +600
  • Michigan Panthers +700
  • Memphis Showboats +750
  • Houston Gamblers +1000
  • Pittsburgh Maulers +1200

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USFL Championship Odds Preview and Best Bets

Birmingham (+300) (9-1 in 2022)

Last season, the default home team for the USFL cruised to the league title. What’s even more impressive is that they are the team returning the most from last season. Skip Holtz returns as head man and is the only head coach with the same quarterbacks drafted in the inaugural USFL draft. J’Mar Smith threw for 1,573 yards and ten touchdowns in 2022 and has been with Holtz for seven years dating back to their time at Louisiana Tech.

Bo Scarborough returns to lead the backfield, just one of the many great running backs to come out of the dominant University of Alabama running back stable. John Chavis remains the defensive coordinator, with star linebacker Scooby Wright and Safety JoJo Tillery returning to anchor the defense. 3/1 can be a hard pill to swallow on a future bet, but it might be the best bet out there. This unit should continue to churn like a well-oiled machine, and it’ll be tough for anyone to take them down.

New Jersey Generals (+325) (9-1 in 2022)

The Generals also posted a strong 9-1 record in the 2022 season but fell short in the playoffs losing to the Philadelphia Stars in the semifinals game. Head Coach Mike Riley returns to the team, but it’ll be a different man under center this year. Luis Perez has moved on to the XFL, and the job is a battle between returning backup De’Andre Johnson and former New York Giants draft selection Kyle Lauletta.

Star kick returner and 2022 league MVP KaVonte Turpin has gone on to earn Pro Bowl honors with the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL. The team’s dynamic running* back duo Darius Victor and Trey Williams, return to the backfield. The Generals have a new Defensive Coordinator in 75-year-old Ted Cottrell. At slightly higher odds than the Stallions, it’s hard to back a Mike Riley-led team to win anything significant. While he’s got two Grey Cups as a Head Coach, most of the rest of his long career in the NFL, NCAA, and other leagues have led to solid regular seasons with poor postseason performances.

Philadelphia Stars (+550) (6-4 in 2022)

The Stars proved once again why playoffs are excellent in sports. After putting together a 6-4 record, they upset the New Jersey Generals before taking the Stallions to the wire in the title game. A game that might have turned out differently if Quarterback Case Cookus hadn’t broken his leg in the fourth quarter. Cookus went on to be a practice squad player for the Los Angeles Rams and has returned to the team for the 2023 season.

Bart Andrus remains the head man for the Stars. Jordan Suell reruns as Cookus’s top reviving option, as former NFL first-round pick Corey Coleman joins the team at Wide Receiver. Defensive back Channing Stribling, who led the league with seven interceptions, is back to anchor the defense. The key pieces are still in place, and at +550, this one is worth a second look as the Stars look to avenge that championship game loss.

New Orleans Breakers (+600) (6-4 in 2022)

The Breakers are the first team on the list to make a change at the Head Coaching position. After going 6-4 and making the playoffs, Larry Fedora stepped down, and John Defilippo will take his place. In addition, two new USFL Quarterbacks were poised to carry this team in McLeod Bethel-Thompson and Aqeel Glass.

Luckily for them, the star-studded wide receiver room returns their top two players, Johnnie Dixon and Jonathan Adams. 69 receptions for 768 yards was their combined total in 2022. Defensively, star Linebackers Jerod Fernandez and Vontae Diggs return to what should be a stout defense. At 6/1, with the turnover in key positions, the Breakers may return to the playoffs, but they aren’t getting my bet for the title.

Michigan Panthers (+700) (2-8 in 2022)

Jeff Fisher is out, and Mike Nolan is in. After a disappointing 2-8 season in 2022, it seemed best for all parties to make a change at the helm. So with an overhaul in store, the Panthers took Michigan State Offensive Lineman Jarrett Horst with the #1 overall pick in the draft. Horst was one of four linemen drafted with their ten picks.

Josh Love returns as the presumed starter but only threw for 791 yards last season. Carson Strong, the star Nevad Quarterback comes in to challenge Love. The Panthers have almost nowhere to go but up, and I expect them to be improved in 2023. At only 7/1, though, it seems like a tall task to bet on them to raise the trophy in Canton.

Memphis Showboats (+750) (4-6 in 2022 as the Tampa Bay Bandits)

Moving from Tampa over to Memphis, this is nothing more than a name change. With teams playing all their games in the “hub” at Birmingham, this team was never in Tampa anyway. Todd Haley remains the Head Coach, and the University of Memphis Quarterback Brady White will now lead the city’s professional team.

On offense, the top four receivers from 2022 all return and are joined in the backfield by Alex Collins, who has five years of NFL experience. However, after a disappointing 2022 campaign, the jury is still out on Todd Haley as a Head Coach. At +750, it seems like the value just isn’t here.

Houston Gamblers +1000 (3-7 in 2022)

Kenji Bahar returns to Houston to take over the reins at Quarterback. Bahar started the final two games for the Gamblers in 2022, dealing the season’s only loss to the eventual champion Birmingham Stallions. Kevin Sumlin is out as the Head Coach, and Curtis Johnson steps in to replace him. Big-bodied Running Back Mark Thompson returns to lead the backfield.

The offensive line features Nick Buchanan and Jordan Steckler and should be a force. However, defensive player of the year Chris Odom and league-leading tackler Donald Payne have both moved on, leaving questions in the Gambler’s defense. At 10/1, this is a price I can get behind. Things are looking up on the offensive side for the Gamblers; if their defense can figure things out, this team is a solid longshot bet.

Pittsburgh Maulers +1200 (1-9 in 2022)

The Pittsburgh Maulers were the worst team in the USFL in 2022. They needed a facelift and got it. Out is Kirby Wilson as head coach, replaced by longtime NFL assistant Ray Horton. James Morgan and Troy Williams will battle it out for the Quarterback duties. Bailey Gaither, their star Wide Receiver is the brightest spot for the team as he returns after a look from the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.

Ruben Foster, former 49ers first-round pick, joins the team, but he hasn’t played football in almost five years after injuries derailed a promising NFL career. This will be an uphill battle for the Maulers, and not finishing as the worst team seems like a more realistic goal than going for a title.



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