Another week in the USFL, another 2-2 week against the spread. We are going to have to break this .500 stretch this weekend. A couple of takeaways from Week 2: We finally saw some points scored, Philadelphia Stars quarterback Bryan Scott may be the best quarterback in the league and the New Orleans Breakers established themselves as the early favorites to win the championship with a dominant 34-3 win over the Tampa Bay Bandits.
Favorites are 6-2 against the spread through two weeks, so Vegas has a good idea of what they are doing with this new league. In my first two picks columns, I have taken one underdog per week. In looking at the Week 3 lines, however, I'm going to break that trend. I like the underdogs this weekend.
Check out Tyler Sullivan's Week 3 USFL power rankings,. Let's jump into the picks.
USFL ATS record: 4-4
USFL straight up record: 5-3
All odds are via Caesars Sportsbook
Tampa Bay Bandits (-1.5) at Houston Gamblers
Saturday, 4 p.m. ET (Fox)
ATS: Bandits (1-1), Gamblers (1-1)
The Bandits' embarrassing loss is still fresh in my mind, and I wonder if it's fresh in their minds as well. They had just 194 yards of total offense compared to the Breakers' 374, and Jordan Ta'amu passed for just 62 yards and an interception. I thought the No. 2 overall pick was going to be the best quarterback in this league, but obviously I'm worried now.
As for the Gamblers, they are at the bottom of the league in passing yards per game (111 yards), and have completed a league-low 47.1 percent of their passes while being tied for the league lead with four total interceptions. Houston's passing game looks rough, but Mark Thompson now leads all rushers with 163 yards. He rushed for 93 yards on 16 carries in the 33-28 loss to the Birmingham Stallions last weekend.
Will the Bandits bounce back, or will they look completely lost like last Sunday? This is a game I wouldn't put much on, but I actually like the underdog here. Tampa Bay has to prove to us it can play well again. It's hard to forget the mic'd up Breakers players telling the Bandits to their faces the entire game last week that they "suck."
The pick: Gamblers +1.5
Projected score: Gamblers 24-20
Birmingham Stallions at New Orleans Breakers (-3.5)
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (Fox)
ATS: Stallions (2-0), Breakers (2-0)
The Stallions are the only team with home-field advantage. Or fans for that matter. They and the Breakers are the only remaining undefeated teams, so this is another early-season USFL Super Bowl. J'Mar Smith has looked solid for the Stallions, as this offense leads the league in total scoring and has two stars in running back CJ Marable and wideout Osirus Mitchell. Keep an eye on Victor Bolden Jr., who leads the league in all-purpose yards.
As for the Breakers, it's hard to go against them. They sit atop our power rankings for good reason after their 34-3 win vs. the Bandits, as Kyle Sloter threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns. This defense may be the best in the league, and are averaging 10 points allowed per game. I'm going to take the Breakers to win here, but I'm going to take the points with the Stallions.
The pick: Stallions +3.5
Projected score: Breakers 27-24
Pittsburgh Maulers at Michigan Panthers (-2.5)
Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET (USA Network)
ATS: Maulers (0-2), Panthers (0-2)
The Maulers looked like the worst team in the league Week 1, but they showed some fight vs. the Stars last Saturday. In the 30-23 loss, Pittsburgh's defense forced three turnovers -- including a scoop-and-score. I'm not in love with quarterback Josh Love, but I like his running backs. Garrett Groshek rushed for 77 yards last week while averaging 4.3 yards per carry, and Madre London averaged 4.6 yards per carry.
The Panthers are another team that's hard to bet on right now. Shea Patterson, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the USFL draft, struggled in the 10-6 Week 2 loss vs. the Generals, as he completed 14 of 29 passes for 124 yards. He had just 50 yards passing before the Panthers' final possession! While the offense did put together an impressive last gasp, they looked terrible for virtually the entire matchup. Give me the Maulers straight up.
The pick: Maulers +2.5
Projected score: Maulers 20-16
New Jersey Generals at Philadelphia Stars (PICK)
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (Peacock)
ATS: Generals (1-1), Stars (1-1)
Both teams are 1-1, but I like the Stars more at this point. Philly lost to the best team in the league in New Orleans by six points in Week 1, and got back on track with a win over Pittsburgh in Week 2. As for New Jersey, the Generals lost to the Stallions in Week 1, and then barely held on for a win against the Panthers last Friday.
The difference here to me is the quarterback play. Luis Perez and De'Andre Johnson have been solid, but not "good." As for Bryan Scott, he leads the league in passing yards (474) and passing touchdowns (4). He hasn't been perfect, but he may be the best quarterback in the league. I say the Stars win this game if they limit their turnovers.
The pick: Stars
Projected score: Stars 23-17