The USFL has reached the end of its inaugural season. The championship is upon us, and things are about to get even more exciting. The top two teams will duke things out, and if we’ve learned anything, the unexpected tends to happen.
We were tremendously successful at OddsTrader when betting on the USFL all season. Continuing that trend into the playoffs will be key. So much continues to change on a weekly basis that we have to stay flexible with our betting picks.
Our knowledge of these rosters, coaching staff, and the league itself has allowed us to prosper thus far. Join us again for our continued USFL coverage. Let’s take a look at our championship predictions for the two best bets this weekend.
*Betting odds are via BetMGM.
Birmingham Stallions vs. Philadelphia Stars
Sunday, July 03, 2022 – 07:30 PM EDT at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium
The Rise of Case Cookus
USFL fans have enjoyed watching Philadelphia Stars quarterback Case Cookus step into the starting role after Bryan Scott’s season ended due to injury, a big blow to the team if Cookus had not been the right man for the job. However, since taking over, Cookus has amassed the second-most passing touchdowns in the league (12).
The former Northern Arizona star and undrafted free agent gets to play for the USFL Championship. His 62.5 completion percentage is an impressive accomplishment given how few reps Cookus has had with his receivers. He also has 1,334 passing yards in 9 games.
The Stars face a tough Stallions defense that keeps opposing teams to just 173 passing yards and less than 17 points per game, so this will be the ultimate test for Cookus the backup to prove that he has the ability to win big games as the starter for head coach Bart Andrus.
Stallions’ Offense Analysis
The Stallions went 9-1 during the regular season and had a habit of getting behind early in games and then coming back in the second half. This strategy is exhilarating to watch for fans but is not a sustainable way to stack wins, which is why their shift from that last week was key.
Against the Breakers, HC Skip Holtz’s game plan generated a 21-14 first-half lead and then DC John Chavis’s defense kept the Breakers to just a field goal in the second half, a far better strategy that might be tougher to execute against the Stars who score 26.2 points per game.
Be sure to check out Birmingham’s J’Mar Smith. Smith was the 3rd most productive quarterback in the league with 131 completions on 239 attempts (54.8%) for 1,573 yards and 10 TDs with 6 interceptions. He has a QBR of 118.9 after averaging almost 175 passing yards per game.
Stars’ Key Player: Maurice Alexander (WR)
Special teams played a key role in the Stars’ win last week, with the prime example being the 87-yard punt return for a touchdown made by WR Maurice Alexander. This thrilling moment helped take the wind out of the Generals’ sails.
Alexander played his college football at Florida International. The 5’ 11” 180-pound speedster has caught 20 balls for Philadelphia for 234 yards and 2 TDs. He’s also posted 787 kick return yards and 164 punt return yards on special teams.
In a tight game, a playmaking kick returner like Alexander can make all the difference. His game-breaking ability shifts the momentum of the game. He routinely gives his team great field position.
Stallions’ Key Player: Victor Bolden Jr. (WR)
One of the most breathtaking moments (of many) in last week’s South Division Finals was a sensational 90-yard kick return by WR Victor Bolden Jr. for a touchdown, a special teams play that helped his Stallions secure a spot in the Championship game against the Philly Stars.
Bolden has some NFL camp experience and some practice squad reps and even posted 535 NFL return yards, the majority of those for the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent pickup out of Oregon State until an injury and some off-field issues caused him to be waived.
Now, Bolden made the 2022 USFL All-Special Teams squad and that run to the house last week was typical of his playmaking ability, this season with 42 catches for 415 yards and a TD plus almost 800 return yards, an all-purpose player worth watching in this final game of the season.
Stallions vs. Stars: USFL Betting Picks
Overall, Birmingham is the better team but tends to play tight games. They’re tough to predict, whereas the Stars overcame poor play on offense last week to win outright.
Following the USFL odds, we’ll take the Stars in a low-scoring affair to cover, but the Stallions still win the title.
USFL Pick: Stars +4.5 (-110) at BetMGM
USFL Pick: Under 44.5 (-110) at BetMGM