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USFL Championship Odds and Predictions

If a new league on the sports landscape completing its first season is considered a success then kudos the USFL. The final game of the first season of the second incarnation takes place on Sunday with the Birmingham Stallions and Philadelphia Stars battling for the USFL championship at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. For those old enough to remember the original version of the USFL, the Stars competed in the first championship game. Nearly four decades later it’s déjà vu all over again.

Philadelphia lost back in 1983 and the Stars are 4-point dogs on the USFL betting line at That wasn’t a problem for Philly last week as they knocked off the hottest team in the league denying a matchup of the teams with the best record during the regular season. The Stars were a 4.5-point dog in their semifinal matchup winning outright 19-14 to snap New Jersey’s nine-game winning streak. Just a week prior the Stars lost to Jersey for the second time this season.

Though the Generals made things interesting with their own run of wins, the Stallions have been the league’s best team since the get-go. They rattled off eight consecutive wins to start the season showing the ability to come back and win close games. Five of their nine wins were by six points or less. Their quest for a perfect season ended in Week 9 and the Stallions looked shaky over the final three games with wins over New Orleans and Tampa Bay by a combined four points sandwiching the loss to Houston. They failed to cover the line in any of those games.

Birmingham returned to form in last week’s playoff win over the Breakers getting big plays on defense and special teams earning a 31-17 payout victory. The USFL’s top defense during the regular season allowed nearly 400 total yards, but the group stiffened when it had to and forced three turnovers.

They also held New Orleans to three second half points and yielded only one offensive touchdown. The Stallions had the best defense during the season allowing 269.9 yards per game and they were second giving up just 16.9 points per game. They were right at their average last week, the ninth consecutive game yielding fewer than 20 points.

The Stallions are the better team proving that in Week 5 with a thorough 30-17 beating of the Stars. J’Mar Smith completed 17 of 22 for 203 yards with a touchdown and CJ Marable had 114 yards rushing with a score. Case Cookus played his way into the MVP discussion by throwing for the fourth-most yards (1,334) and second-most touchdowns (12) in seven regular season games. However, he struggled last week completing just 50 percent of his throws for 133 yards with a pick. He did score Philly’s only offensive touchdown, though, and has delivered with his legs.

The Stallions did a number on Cookus in Week 5 conceding 215 yards through the air on 54.3 percent passing. His fumble led to a Stallions touchdown and the offense never got on track. If Birmingham plays the way it has all season there is no way they lose this football game. But New Jersey was a balanced team that shot itself in the foot last week. The Stars will say they had something to do with it.

Philadelphia Stars (6-4, 1-0) vs. Birmingham Stallions (9-1, 1-0)

Sunday, July 3, 7:30 p.m. ET (FOX)

Opening Line: Birmingham -4, O/U 45

Not only did Cookus have a poor outing last week he also exited the game briefly with a back injury. It’s hard enough to score against let alone beat Birmingham, so the health of Cookus is a huge storyline on the lead in. In the last five games of the season with Cookus behind center the Stars averaged over 31 points and had the highest point total in any game in their Week 8 46-24 win over Michigan.

Birmingham has used a balanced offensive attack, a stingy defense and big plays to subdue opponents. Smith is dual threat and the return of Victor Bolden had a huge impact last week with his kickoff return touchdown. The Stallions don’t hurt themselves so taking care of the football is No. 1 on Sunday’s to-do list.

Cookus could have a good game, but he needs to have a great game for Philly to have a chance at another upset. I don’t think Birmingham is going to be as philanthropic with the football eliminating one way the Stars could win. And without all of them Philly is doomed.

Prediction: Birmingham -4 / UNDER 45

View today’s USFL Championship betting lines.

George Newman
George Newman
Covers NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL for George is also an avid sports bettor and daily fantasy sports fan.

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