IN Birmingham stallions have won a place in USFL playoffs. So have it New Jersey Generals.
And this weekend, two more teams – the Philadelphia Stars and the New Orleans Breakers – have the opportunity to join them, winning their own places after the season.
For coach Bart Andrus and the Stars (4-3) it’s simple: win on Sunday and they are in the playoffs. On the other hand, their opponent in the Northern Division, the Michigan Panthers (1-6), must defeat the Stars to keep their hopes afloat after the season.
The play-off scenario is more complicated for coach Larry Fedora and the Breakers (5-2). The Breakers’ victory on Saturday against the Stallions, combined with a loss to the Tampa Bay Bandits (3-4) against the Houston Gamblers (1-6) on Sunday, will secure a place in the playoffs for New Orleans.
Check out RJ Young’s latest USFL Power Rankings to see the big picture.
USFL strength rankings after week 7
RJ Young returns to discuss the best teams in the USFL. The still undefeated Birmingham Stallions hold the top spot. See how the others in the rankings are shaking.
Here is an example for week 8:
Pittsburgh Maulers (1-6) vs. New Jersey Generals (6-1)
Friday, 8 p.m. ET in the United States
Last week: The Maulers battled undefeated stallions for most of the race before eventually falling 26-16. They were canceled by several huge games, including a 52-yard touchdown broadcast of a fake game.
Meanwhile, the Generals got a solid exit from quarterback Luis Perez (19-for-25 for 174 yards and touchdown) to beat Tampa Bay and gain a place in the playoffs.
Players to watch: The Maulers have tried four different quarterbacks in the last four weeks without much success. Wad Lee helped the team lead to their only win of the season, but last week it was drawn in favor of Roland Rivers. Who will take the reins this week?
Safety Dravon Askew-Henry had two grips in the quarter to help the Generals secure victory. In addition, there were eight fights (seven solos) and three protected passes. What will he do for the encore?
New Orleans Breakers (5-2) vs. Birmingham Stallions (7-0)
Saturday, 15:00 ET on FOX and streaming in the FOX Sports app
Last week: The Breakers were challenged by the Panthers, who needed a goal from the field after time ran out to equalize and continue. QB’s Kyle Slaughter then set to work, scoring Anthony Jones for one penalty shootout, then throwing himself in for a second result to give New Orleans a 31-27 victory.
The stallions had some dramatic action of their own, driving Bo Scarbro’s powerful run – and a 52-yard sprint on a fake pound by Bobby Holly – to hold back the Maulers.
Players to watch: The Breakers signed Jones in May, and the move has already paid off. The 25-year-old Florida International player already has 157 yards and a touchdown in three games, none of which have started.
The stallions are injured, with star Victor Bolden falling last. As teams are likely to focus more on stopping Scarbro, quarterback J’Mar Smith may need to take over.
Michigan Panthers (1-6) vs. Philadelphia Stars (4-3)
Sunday, 12:00 ET on FOX and streaming in the FOX Sports app
Last week: The Panthers did almost everything right against the Breakers, except to finish the game. Maybe nailing New Orleans deep with a punch at the end of the game, as opposed to trying a long field goal – which was missed – would make the difference.
The stars took advantage of Houston’s epic collapse, scoring 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to turn a 24-13 deficit into a 35-24 victory. A stunning, moving rocket from Case Cookus to Jordan Suell was the key game that started it all.
Players to watch: Josh Love did not win in his first start for Michigan, but showed that he can stand high in his pocket and give passes while taking a hit. He completed only 18 of his 37 attempts on a pass and did not throw a touchdown, but also did not throw a single interception.
Channing Stribling continues to be a force for Philadelphia, scoring his best fifth grip in the league in the victory over Houston. He has played in only five of the seven All-Star games.
Houston Gamblers (1-6) vs. Tampa Bay Bandits (3-4)
Sunday, 16:00 ET at Peacock
Last week: The Gamblers really grabbed the defeat from the jaws of the victory against Philly. Their shots in the fourth quarter included a missed goal from the field, interception, fumble and safety. They will have to learn to finish the games if they want to win their first victory in week 1.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay managed to stay within the touchdown in their 20-13 loss to New Jersey, although they made a 0-for-3 in the red zone and made three frictions. They will seek to clear things up against Houston.
Players to watch: The person you should watch on Gamblers is obviously Donald Payne. The linebacker is a coping machine – he not only leads the league with 85 rebounds, but 29 more than the 56th-ranked Vontae Diggs of New Orleans.
Liberty’s midfielder Anthony Butler was everywhere for the bandits last week, scoring 14 shots (eight solos), two of which were to lose.
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