The USFL kicks off on Saturday, the latest professional league that will try to find footing in the spring season.
It offers another chance for football bettors, even if the unpredictability factor is high. All of the games are being played at Birmingham, Ala., Which takes the home-field advantage off the table for every team except perhaps the Stallions.
There are some trends that are worth mentioning from the opening weekends for the last two Leagues to try spring football. The Alliance of American Football (2019) and XFL (2020) had some interesting first-game trends worth knowing. In those eight games:
Betting Trends from AAF, XFL in Week 1
- The favorites were 6-2 S / U and 6-2 ATS. The home team was 7-1 in those games.
- The under hit in five of those eight games.
- The average margin of Victory was 17.9 points per game and the average points total was 38.4 points per game.
Will those Trends Resurface in the USFL? Maybe not, but they are worth keeping in mind. Here are our betting predictions for the first week of USFL action:
USFL Week 1 Picks, predictions
New Jersey Generals at Birmingham Stallions
Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, FOX, NBC, Peacock
- Spread: Stallions -3.5
- Moneyline: Stallions -167, Generals +130
- Over / Under: 42.5
Birmingham is the de facto home team at this level, and Skip Holtz brings defensive Coordinator John Chavis into the fold. Quarterback Alex McGough will find a safety blanket in Victor Bolden Jr., and the former Oregon State receiver will score a first-half TD. Can journeyman Coach Mike Riley, who had success in the AAF, get enough out of quarterbacks De’Andre Johnson and perhaps Luis Perez to fight back? Trey Williams and Mike Weber aren’t Herschel Walker, but they are enough to get New Jersey an upset special in the league’s return.
Pick: Generals 22, Stallions 19
Houston Gamblers at Michigan Panthers
Sunday, 12 pm ET, NBC / Peacock
- Spread: Panthers -3.5
- Moneyline: Panthers -167, Gamblers +130
- Over / under: 43.5
Michigan’s Jeff Fisher and Houston’s Kevin Sumlin are back on the guidelines, and you can expect a contrast in their offensive attacks. Fisher will be conservative with a few deep shots to Jeff Badet. The Gamblers will pass more. It’s a battle of former Big Ten quarterbacks in Shea Patterson and Clayton Thorson. The last time they met, Michigan beat Northwestern 20-17 in a game where neither quarterback threw a TD pass. Let’s hope that history doesn’t repeat itself, but the Panthers pull out a Victory.
Pick: Panthers 22, Gamblers 20
Philadelphia Stars at New Orleans Breakers
Sunday, 4 pm ET, USA
- Spread: Breakers -2.5
- Moneyline: Breakers -149, Stars +115
- Over / under: 44.5
The Stars were the premier franchise in the original USFL, with two championships in three seasons. Bryan Scott, who played at Occidental College, will get the Spotlight here for Bart Andrus’ team. Andrus is a coaching curiosity given his background in just about every football league possible. Larry Fedora Returns for the Breakers, and Kyle Sloter is his quarterback. Larry Rose III should see some carries in the backfield, too. The Moneyline here gives the Stars the best chance to pull the upset. We’ll go with it in the best game of the weekend.
Pick: Stars 31, Breakers 27
Tampa Bay Bandits at Pittsburgh Maulers
Sunday, 8 pm ET, FS1
- Spread: Bandits -2.5
- Moneyline: Bandits -213, Maulers +160
- Over / under: 42.5
The Bandits are in prime time. Todd Haley will keep it simple for Jordan Ta’amu, who was one of the leading passers in the XFL before it was canceled because of COVID-19. BJ Emmons, an Alabama transfer who played at the FAU, will keep the ground game going, too. Kyle Lauletta, who spent some time on the Browns’ practice Squad, will have some success for Pittsburgh. But the Bandits come up with a few key turnovers in the second half to pull out a Victory.
Pick: Bandits 28, Maulers 16