The 2022 USFL season is approaching its first postseason as the 10-week schedule is winding down. Week 8 is upon us, and the playoffs are coming fast.
The layout of the league is unique enough to allow even the misfortune teams back into the race. Week 7 had several interesting results.
The Houston Gamblers dropped a key game as the Philadelphia Stars dropped 22 unanswered fourth-quarter points in a comeback win.
The league favorites both won, as the Birmingham Stallions and New Jersey Generals emerged from tough games that had each sweating until the final moments. 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. See our Week 8 preview and best bets for our favorite two games of the week.
USFL Week 8 Matchup Analysis
Let’s take a look at our Week 8 best bets and predictions for two contests on Sunday, June 5. Betting odds are via Fanduel.
Michigan Panthers vs. Philadelphia Stars
Sunday, June 05, 2022 – 12:00 PM EDT at Protective Stadium
Philadelphia Stars Analysis
There’s not a tougher team to gauge than the Philadelphia Stars. They’re able to overcome an inconsistent offensive through timely defensive plays but it’s hard to see them having a significant upside.
Look at it this way – can they beat the USFL’s top teams if quarterback Case Cookus continues to average 5.3 yards per completion and throw two interceptions per game, or if tailback Matt Colburn is averaging 3.7 yards per carrying?
It’s not likely, and it’s shocking it’s working even against the bad USFL teams. The Stars have a real playoff shot.
But they’ll need to fend off a Michigan team that has changed significantly since the start of the year in order to keep winning and staying relevant in the playoff race.
If the Stars can even get into the playoffs, at least they give themselves the opportunity to prove themselves.
Considering Cookus is still learning as he transitions from a backup to a starter, it’s not unreasonable to think he’ll improve. But Philadelphia has to see it soon.
Michigan Panthers Analysis
For the Panthers, this game is about pride at this point. Jeff Fisher’s squad made the bold decision to drop Shea Patterson, who wasn’t the lone issue with the roster and start Josh Love instead.
Love responded with a horribly inefficient game last week against the New Orleans Breakers. The Panthers squandered a wonderful game from rushers, Reggie Corbin and Cameron Scarlett.
In total, the Panthers ran for a whopping 192 yards and two scores on 34 attempts. That type of execution usually leads to a win in the USFL, so it’s quite the issue when a team still loses by one full score.
Panthers vs. Stars: Best Bet and Prediction
I don’t trust the Panthers’ ability to even get stops anymore despite their excellent early-season defense.
Offenses have found weaknesses in Michigan’s secondary and there’s been an increase in efficiency since the opening month. This should be a fairly comfortable win for the Stars.
USFL Pick: Stars -5.5 (-110)
Houston Gamblers vs. Tampa Bay Bandits
Sunday, June 05, 2022 – 04:00 PM EDT at Protective Stadium
Houston Gamblers Analysis
Houston remains the strangest, most frustrating team in the league. They’re averaging 22.3 points per game, which is almost five points more than the Tampa Bay Bandits.
And yet, their defense has given up a whopping 25.3 points per game and they continue to fall apart at the worst times.
How Houston produces is most fascinating because they’re dominated by foes in total yardage.
This Gamblers offense has averaged only 150 passing yards and 97 rushing yards per game but has given up 226 passing yards and 140 rushing yards per game.
That matches up with their 1-6 record despite the point disparity rivaling the 3-4 Bandits. The losses in the margins happen for two reasons.
Bandits Losses Margins Reasons
The first is coaching. While Kevin Sumlin had bright moments throughout his collegiate career, he is not an in-game coach who makes adjustments effectively. That has continued to haunt him this year.
The other reason is the lack of a dynamic star playmaker who can ascend the moment. Quarterback Clayton Thorson was finally benched last week after a season of uninspiring play, and backup Kenji Bahar at least started throwing downfield and testing tight passing windows.
But Bahar isn’t surrounded by many talents, so the ground game was inefficient and the receivers scrapped for whatever they could get outside of a 45-yard and 32-yard completion.
Houston is a good “bad” team though. They fight hard and usually cover the spread. This week’s matchup is against a bad “good” team in Tampa Bay.
Bandits and Ta’amu Analysis
The Bandits have a similar outcome most weeks. Their offense lacks complexity because the running backs can’t threaten anyone and the offensive line has quarterback Jordan Ta’amu scrambling for his life.
Ta’amu has just 1,404 yards, 10 touchdowns, and eight interceptions on the year.
Each week continues to get more difficult for Ta’amu and the Bandits’ offense as defenses have figured them out.
Gamblers vs. Bandits: Best Bet and Prediction
Houston’s weak defense should open opportunities for Ta’amu to find holes downfield though, making this matchup a potential upset candidate if the dual-threat can stay upright and avoid interceptions.
It’s hard to trust either team. This line is tempting since the Gamblers have lost by just one or two a handful of times this season. We’ll bet on that happening again, so the points are our play.
USFL Pick: Gamblers +5.5 (-110)