deandre-johnson.jpg
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

I was feeling great after the first two USFL games in Week 3. I bet both underdogs in the Houston Gamblers and Birmingham Stallions, and both hit! I claimed Week 3 was going to be the week the underdogs were going to bite, and I looked very smart through the first two games. Then the other two games happened.

The underdog Pittsburgh Maulers were completely mauled by the Michigan Panthers, 24-0, and then the Philadelphia Stars allowed 14 unanswered points to the New Jersey Generals in the fourth quarter to lose by eight points. Three weeks into the 2022 USFL season, and I'm 6-6 ATS. We have to break the .500 streak this week.  

Check out Tyler Sullivan's Week 4 USFL power rankings here. There's a new No. 1! Now, let's jump into the picks. 

USFL ATS record: 6-6
USFL straight up record: 5-7

All odds are via Caesars Sportsbook

Philadelphia Stars at Michigan Panthers (-1)

Friday, 10 p.m. ET (FS1)
ATS: Stars (1-2), Panthers (1-2)

It's hard not to lean Panthers here. Stars quarterback Bryan Scott, who is one of the better signal-callers in the league, suffered a knee injury in the middle of the 24-16 loss to the Generals last week. He announced Wednesday afternoon that he was headed home to address the injury. I can't say I love the Panthers, but their two losses have come by five or fewer points. Despite passing for a total of 71 yards last week against the Maulers, they still won 24-0 thanks to 245 total rushing yards. 

With Scott out, I'll take Michigan.  

The pick: Panthers -1
Projected score: Panthers 23-17

New Jersey Generals (-9.5) at Pittsburgh Maulers

Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET (Peacock)
ATS: Generals (2-1), Maulers (0-3)

Whoa. This is the biggest line we've seen in the history of the new USFL. I went out on a limb for the Maulers last week. The defense forced three turnovers in a 30-23 loss to the Stars in Week 2, and I thought they were improving as a team. But instead, this past weekend, Pittsburgh got absolutely blasted by Michigan, 24-0. The Panthers jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the first quarter and it was over. It also says something that the Maulers couldn't muster a single point.

The Generals lead the USFL in rushing yards per game with 200, and they are going to continue to ride their rushers. New Jersey rushed for 264 yards last week. Trey Williams had 110, De'Andre Johnson had 91 and a touchdown and Darius Victor rushed for 49 yards and two touchdowns. This is a huge number, but I don't see the Maulers bouncing back like the Bandits did after their embarrassing loss to the Breakers a couple weeks ago. I'm going to lay the points and hope for the best. 

The pick: Generals -9.5
Projected score: Generals 27-14

Tampa Bay Bandits at Birmingham Stallions (-3.5)

Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (Fox)
ATS: Bandits (1-2), Stallions (3-0)

The Stallions are the lone remaining undefeated team in the USFL, and you can boil down their success to two factors: A legitimate home-field advantage, and Scooby Wright III. All kidding aside, Wright has turned into a USFL legend. The former Arizona star notched 17 tackles and a forced fumble in the 22-13 victory over the Breakers last week. I hypothesized before the season that he and DeMarquis Gates would be a dynamic duo at linebacker, and I was right. Gates ranks third in total tackles with 27, and Wright is fourth with 26. While I'm quickly revisiting my correct takes, I told you to keep an eye on Victor Bolden Jr. last week, and he led Birmingham with 69 receiving yards and a touchdown.

As for the Bandits, they are hard to understand. Last week against the Gamblers, they trailed by nine points heading into the fourth quarter. However, quarterback Jordan Ta'amu led a comeback and helped set up the 46-yard game-winning field goal with just 13 seconds left. Tampa Bay didn't cover the spread, but at least it won. The 3.5-point line in this matchup is a bit tricky, and I'm going to throw Stallions ML into a parlay with something from either the NHL or NBA. For my ATS pick, however, I'll still lay the points with the Stallions. I mean, they are undefeated against the spread as well. 

The pick: Stallions -3.5
Projected score: Stallions 24-20

Houston Gamblers at New Orleans Breakers (-4.5)

Sunday, 3 p.m. ET (NBC)
ATS: Gamblers (2-1), Breakers (2-1)

The Gamblers blew a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter last week against the Bandits, which had to hurt. The Breakers, on the other hand, dropped their first game of the season, but everyone would still agree they are one of the premier clubs in this league. This is a nice bounce-back opportunity.

The Breakers have the No. 2 passing offense in the USFL while the Gamblers are No. 6. Houston is also tied for the league lead in interceptions thrown with five. Mark Thompson does lead the USFL in rushing yards with 310, but he's rushed for just one touchdown. There's quite a disparity on defense between these two clubs, as the Breakers have allowed just 40 total points through three weeks, while the Gamblers have allowed 66. That ranks dead last in the league. Looking over these statistics gives me some confidence New Orleans can cover the spread. 

The pick: Breakers -4.5
Projected score: Breakers 30-23