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USFL Divisional Playoffs Odds and Predictions

Completing the first regular season was a plus for the USFL and now the league packs up and relocates to Canton, Ohio for two weeks of playoffs starting Saturday. The two best teams throughout the 10-week regular season are on a collision course to meet in the championship game, but they first must get there with hungry opponents waiting.

Starting with their Week 1 win over New Jersey, the Birmingham Stallions reeled off eight in a row with the drama of an undefeated campaign the biggest storyline. That ended in Week 9 with a loss to Houston, though, handing the moniker of hottest team in the league to the Generals. New Jersey hasn’t lost since opening day and boasts the league’s top offense and running game. It would be an epic championship battle between teams that finished the season at 9-1.

There is one minor detail, however. Birmingham must first get past the New Orleans Breakers and New Jersey has another tilt with the Philadelphia Stars after the two just met in the finale. It’s hard to beat a team three times in a season and the intensity ramps up come playoff time leaving the favorites exposed to a potential upset this week.

While it wasn’t their best game of the season, the Stallions rebounded from their only loss with a 21-18 win over Tampa Bay. They committed four turnovers and looked out of sync on offense. Birmingham failed to cover the spread in a fourth straight game and played below the total in a third straight. Having a playoff spot secured for several weeks may have led to some uneven play. One of Birmingham’s five wins by six points or less was against New Orleans in Week 8.

The Stallions completed the season sweep with a 10-9 victory holding the Breakers to 22 points in the two games. Birmingham had the No. 1 overall defense and No. 2 scoring defense during the season holding its last eight opponents to 18 points or less. The Stallions hit the board as a 4.5-point favorite at

I’ve said this the last few weeks and the Generals keep proving me right. They are the most balanced team in the USFL averaging a league-best 349.2 yards per game behind the most potent rushing attack. They also allow the second fewest yards per game and third-fewest points. I guess it’s no coincidence that the three teams yielding the fewest points are all in the playoffs. The team playing this week that’s not one of the top defensive clubs is Philadelphia, which happens to be the highest scoring team.

Led by Case Cookus, who threw for 1,334 yards with 12 TDs in five games, the Stars averaged 31.2 points in the second half of the season. The teams played in Week 10 with New Jersey eking out a 26-23 win, their ninth straight where they were 6-2 ATS with a pair of covers against Philly. New Jersey is laying 4.5-points on the opening line.

Let’s take a look at the Divisional Round matchups.

Philadelphia Stars (6-4) vs. New Jersey Generals (9-1)

Saturday, June 25, 3 p.m. ET (FOX)

Opening Line: New Jersey -4.5, O/U 47

There won’t be many secrets after the teams just met in the finale with Jersey pulling out a 26-23 win as a 2.5-point favorite. We do know the Generals are going to run the football and if Philly can’t stop them they’ll book a ticket to the title game. With Trey Williams rushing for 110 yards and De’Andre Johnson adding 91, the Generals totaled 264 yards on the ground in the first meeting. Williams added 114 last week and Jersey averaged over 220 rushing yards in two games.

They averaged 160.5 during the season with Williams and Darius Victor two of only four players to amass more than 500 yards on the ground. The Generals have solid QB play as well with Johnson and Louis Perez combining to complete nearly 72 percent of their passes with 11 TDs and only three picks. Even if they stop the run the Stars can be beaten through the air, which is why I’m backing the Generals minus the points.

Prediction: New Jersey -4.5 / UNDER 47

New Orleans Breakers (6-4) vs. Birmingham Stallions (9-1)

Saturday, June 25, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)

Opening Line: Birmingham -4.5, O/U 44

You have to be good to win nine games, but let’s be honest the Stallions had a lot of things go their way. Even in their win over Tampa in the finale they overcame four turnovers and several botched snaps to get another close win. Five of their nine wins were by six points or less and another by nine points, which was technically a one-score game in this league. New Orleans qualified for the playoffs but they had a rough patch to close the season. They averaged nearly 24 points during the first seven games but averaged less than 10 points losing two of their last three.

And they managed just 22 points total against Birmingham cashing the UNDER both times. For the season the Breakers are 7-3 against the UNDER. Birmingham’s strong defense and having J’Mar Smith back under center gives the Stallions the edge, though close games are commonplace leading me to back the Breakers and the points.

Prediction: New Orleans +4.5 / UNDER 44

View today’s USFL 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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