USFL betting, odds: Playoff spots on the line in final week of the season

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - JUNE 10: Eli Stove #12 of the New Orleans Breakers celebrates a touchdown with Johnnie Dixon #2 and Lee Morris #5 of the New Orleans Breakers during the second half in the game against the Memphis Showboats at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium on June 10, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Jaden Powell/USFL/Getty Images for USFL)
The New Orleans Breakers face a win-and-get-in situation this weekend. (Photo by Jaden Powell/USFL/Getty Images for USFL)

The USFL got the playoff situation it was hoping for on its final weekend of the regular season, as three of the four playoff spots are up for grabs. Getting eyeballs on the USFL is a daunting task in itself, so attracting viewership for games where the best players aren’t going to be on the field would be less than ideal.

The Birmingham Stallions stayed in command of the league by clinching a playoff spot with last week’s impressive win over Houston. The other seven teams will leave it on the field this weekend in hopes of securing one of the final three spots. The North Division features two playoff eliminators, while New Orleans controls its own destiny in the South. Best bets split last week going 2-2, so let’s rundown the board and see if we can end the regular season with a bounceback.

Pittsburgh Maulers +3.5 at New Jersey Generals (O/U 41.5)

I didn’t think it was possible, but they did it again. Maulers unders are the gift that keeps on giving. Through nine weeks, Pittsburgh’s games have averaged a total of 35.8 points and have only broke the 40-point plateau twice. And here I am staring at a total of 41.5. I had to rub my eyes to ensure it was real. The Generals won the previous meeting 20-3. With these two teams playing for their playoff lives, expect a conservative game on both sides. I am 7-1-1 betting these unders, so there is no reason to even sweat the correct side. Best bet: Under 41.5

Birmingham Stallions -4.5 at Memphis Showboats (O/U 44)

This is dog or pass. The latter might be the best move. New Orleans splashed cold water on the hottest team in the USFL, ending Memphis' five-game winning streak by embarrassing them 31-3. The turnover regression finally hit, making it quite clear why the market never bought into Memphis. I’d probably take a shot with the Showboats, considering the uncertainty of how Birmingham coach Skip Holtz will play his cards. The Stallions’ motivation is solely based on vanity. A win awards them the South Division title, which makes them the home team in the playoffs. However, they share their home field with their most likely opponent (New Orleans), so they are going to have the crowd behind them regardless. So I am not sure the Stallions don’t just rest the troops, making the dog the only play. Best bet: Memphis +4.5

New Orleans Breakers -4 at Houston Gamblers (O/U 44.5)

This is a win-and-get-in spot for the Breakers. However, anyone that’s serious about betting on football knows pressure typically has an adverse effect on teams. The Gamblers need to not only win but a lot of help after floundering last weekend against Birmingham. Both these teams have recently struggled with turnovers, making it tough to take a position with the expected turnover variance.

Back in Week 2, the Breakers got the best of the Gamblers in a 38-31 thriller. The sloppy tackling from Houston is a big reason why they allow the seventh-most points per game (24.3), so the playoffs are right there for the taking if New Orleans can play clean. I have my doubts, so I rather play the over with two teams that are in the top three in scoring. Best bet: Over 44.5

Philadelphia Stars PK at Michigan Panthers (O/U 42.5)

I like Philadelphia in the North’s other loser-goes-home matchup. QB Case Cookus took a beating in Sunday night’s 37-33 loss to New Jersey, but assuming he is a go, the Stars are the better team. The Panthers' offense has been broken all season. The combination of turning the ball over more than any team in the league (17 giveaways) and scoring the least amount of points (16.4) is not going to inspire many bettors to back them. They surely aren’t getting my money. Philly’s defense allows more yards than anyone, so the over is the play if you want to steer clear of a side. Best bet: Philly PK