It took five weeks, but we finally broke out of our 2-2 ATS purgatory. We went 3-1 ATS in Week 5, including correctly predicting the lowly Pittsburgh Maulers covering the spread against the Houston Gamblers with a brand new quarterback. Not only did they cover the spread, but they won straight-up on the last play of the game!
There weren't too many other surprises in Week 5. Although the New Jersey Generals have officially established themselves as one of the best teams in the USFL by upsetting the New Orleans Breakers 27-17. Head coach Mike Riley ditched his two-quarterback system, and instead relied on De'Andre Johnson alone. He rewarded his coach with 252 yards from scrimmage, two rushing touchdowns and an interception. The Generals have the No. 1 total offense and No. 1 rushing offense in the league.
There are a few big spreads this week. Let's jump into the picks.
USFL ATS record: 11-9
USFL straight up record: 10-10
All odds are via Caesars Sportsbook
Tampa Bay Bandits (-3) at Philadelphia Stars
Saturday, 1 p.m. ET (NBC)
ATS: Bandits (2-3), Stars (2-3)
The Stars actually led the undefeated Birmingham Stallions by three points at halftime in Week 5, but ended up falling 30-17. Another number to know is that the Stars allowed a total of 377 yards to the Stallions. They have the second-worst defense in the league in terms of total yards allowed per game (360.4), but the Bandits statistically have the worst offense in the league.
I'm still not sure what to think about the Bandits. And I'm not sure who to credit for Shea Patterson's best USFL game yet. Was that Patterson's doing, or the Bandits' bad defense? This will be a close game, and I'm feeling an upset. Give me the Stars.
The pick: Stars +3
Projected score: Stars 27-26
Michigan Panthers at Birmingham Stallions (-7)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
ATS: Panthers (1-4), Stallions (5-0)
Michigan's Patterson, the No. 1 overall pick in the USFL draft, had his best game yet with 304 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also led the Panthers in rushing with 46 yards. However, the Stallions are undefeated against the spread this year and I have no problem laying seven points with them.
The pick: Stallions -7
Projected score: Stallions 24-16
Pittsburgh Maulers at New Orleans Breakers (-7.5)
Sunday, 12 p.m. ET (FS1)
ATS: Maulers (2-3), Breakers (3-2)
I'm tempted to take the Maulers to cover a third straight game. I'm tempted to fully jump on the Vad Lee bandwagon. The former Georgia Tech/James Madison quarterback threw for 170 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in his first USFL game, and gave Pittsburgh the best QB play it's had all season. The Maulers led for a total of one second in their first victory. It was quite a moment.
Anything over seven points is a big number, and I could easily make an argument for the Maulers. My heart wants to take them, but my head won't let me. The Breakers haven't looked great over the past few weeks, but this could be a chance for Kyle Sloter and Co. to get back on track. New Orleans has the best passing offense in the USFL with an average of 238.4 air yards per game.
The pick: Breakers -7.5
Projected score: Breakers 28-17
Houston Gamblers at New Jersey Generals (-7)
Sunday, 4 p.m. ET (Fox)
ATS: Gamblers (2-3), Generals (3-2)
The Gamblers have now lost four straight games, and each of the last three losses have come in the final seconds! This Houston team has to feel deflated -- especially after losing to the previously winless Maulers. Now, they have to face off against one of the hottest teams in the league.
The Generals haven't lost since Week 1, and that was to the still undefeated Stallions. They lead the league in rushing yards per game with 180.2, and total yards per game with 366.8. In the upset win over the Breakers last week, Darius Victor rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown, Johnson rushed for two touchdowns, KaVontae Turpin caught five passes for 106 yards and Shalom Luani caught two interceptions. This Generals team is good, and they are playing with confidence.
The pick: Generals -7
Projected score: Generals 24-14