Spring/summer football leagues don’t have a great track record of succeeding, but could the USFL be set to break that mould?
That was certainly the hope of the league’s organizers ahead of the inaugural season of competition which got underway a couple of months back.
But with seven games of the ten-game regular season now in the history books, how is the USFL shaping up? What have been the major talking points from the league and perhaps most importantly, has the league proven a hit with the fans?
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Stallions Dominate As Top Draft Pick Is Released On Week 6
With all games being played in Birmingham, Alabama, it is perhaps not surprising that it has
been the hometown team, the Stallions, that have been a standout performer in the USFL this season.
Led by receiver Victor Bolden Jr, who has a league high 1023 all-purpose yards after 7 games, the Stallions have won all their seven games, including a key Week 1 match up against the New Jersey Generals.
The Generals only loss came in that season opener and they have won all six games since to take them clear in the North and qualify themselves for the playoffs which take place at the end of June and into July.
There have been some notable moves on the rosters too, with the Michigan Panthers releasing the top pick in the USFL draft, quarterback Shea Patterson, after week 7 following a poor run of results which saw Jeff Fisher’s team move to 1-6 on the season.
Patterson was then claimed off the waivers by the New Orleans Breakers.
Rule Changes And Star Performers
We have also seen some key changes to the rules in the USFL, notably the introduction of what
has become known as the “Fisher Rule” where a team can now call a timeout on an extra point attempt and then change their mind to go for two, or even three points, when previously they were unable to change that decision.
A three-point conversion is an attempt to convert a touchdown by getting the ball into the end zone again, this time from the 10-yard line.
Another rule change saw the clock being allowed to wind down after incompletions in the first and third quarters, which has reduced the time it takes games to be completed to under three hours.
What has been impressive is how quickly rule changes have been implemented with the Fisher Rule change being proposed after the weekend game, voted on and passed on the Thursday following the game, which meant teams in the games on Friday and Saturday could play with the new rule in place.
Current Standings In The USFL
- New Jersey Generals – 6-1*
- Philadelphia Stars – 4-3
- Michigan Panthers – 1-6
- Pittsburgh Maulers – 1-6
- Birmingham Stallions – 7-0*
- New Orleans Breakers – 5-2
- Tampa Bay Bandits – 3-4
- Houston Gamblers – 1-6
*The New Jersey Generals and Birmingham Stallions have already clinched a spot in the playoffs. Four teams qualify for the Playoffs, the top two in each division.
The Playoffs will be played at the Tom Benson Stadium in Canton, Ohio with the two semifinals taking place on June 25th, followed by the Championship Game on July 3rd.
This Weekend’s Games And Betting Odds
This weekend’s fixtures in the USFL are listed below, together with the moneyline betting odds for each of the teams in each of the games as provided by PointsBet Sportsbook.
Saturday 4th June
- Pittsburgh Maulers (+325) V New Jersey Generals (-425)
- New Orleans Breakers (+136) V Birmingham Stallions (-165)
Sunday 5th June
- Michigan Panthers (+195) V Philadelphia Stars (-240)
- Houston Gamblers (+185) V Tampa Bay Bandits (-230)
Wins this weekend for the Philadelphia Stars would confirm them as also qualifying for the playoffs, while the remaining playoff spot looks to be a battle between the Breakers and the Bandits over the final three games of the season.
The undefeated Stallions are the +175 favorites to win the Championship ahead of the New Jersey Generals on +225 and the New Orleans Breakers who are +250, with the Philadelphia Stars at +700 and all those prices were correct at the time of writing with PointsBet Sportsbook.