FOX Sports Betting Analyst
The USFL’s second season kicks off Saturday.
Birmingham ripped through the inaugural campaign with a 9-1 regular-season record, then it beat New Orleans by two touchdowns in the division finals and went on to defeat Philadelphia 33-30 in the USFL Championship.
The Stallions should be just as solid in 2023.
“The one-city hub structure gave Birmingham a strong home-field advantage, and obviously, they won it all,” SumerSports vice president of research and development Eric Eager told FOX Sports. “The Stallions didn’t win the title at home, but the constant home cooking was ideal for them all season.
“I’m excited for year two,” Eager continued. “We’ll get a decent idea about the longevity of the league, and we’ll find out if the talent level can rise up.”
To nobody’s surprise, Birmingham is favored to run it back and hoist another championship trophy on July 1 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.
Here are every team’s title odds via FOX Bet:
Birmingham Stallions: +300 (bet $10 to win $40 total)
New Jersey Generals: +300 (bet $10 to win $40 total)
New Orleans Breakers: +500 (bet $10 to win $60 total)
Philadelphia Stars: +550 (bet $10 to win $65 total)
Memphis Showboats: +550 (bet $10 to win $65 total)
Houston Gamblers: +600 (bet $10 to win $70 total)
Michigan Panthers: +700 (bet $10 to win $80 total)
Pittsburgh Maulers: +800 (bet $10 to win $90 total)
*Odds as of 4/14/2023
USFL reveals new clock rules
Watch this to learn about USFL’s new clock rules for the 2023 season.
Eager studied applied mathematics and mathematical biology at Nebraska and wrote his Ph.D. thesis about Population Dynamics. He’s built statistical models for the better part of two decades, and he tends to simulate any given football game 10,000 times with hot streaks and cold streaks.
He eats numbers the way we eat breakfast.
“There are four tiers in the USFL,” Eager opined. “The Stallions are 6 points better than the average team on a neutral field, which makes them the clear favorites. The Generals and Stars are 2.5 points above average, the Breakers are league average  and the others are all 2.5 to 3 points below average.
“Birmingham is a 9-point favorite over Pittsburgh on a neutral,” he explained.
Eager’s top-three teams have clear-cut starters at quarterback, and the only reason New Orleans went backwards is that the Breakers are replacing starter Kyle Sloter. He’s currently a free agent after being released by the Jacksonville Jaguars and having a cup of coffee with the Arlington Renegades.
Anyways… you need strong quarterback play to have success.
“You got solid quarterback play last year from Philadelphia, Birmingham, New Orleans and at times New Jersey,” Eager said. “Case Cookus is back for the Stars as is J’Mar Smith for the Stallions. That’s the kind of thing that carries over in a league where there’s a lot of turnover.
“These leagues are about riding high on a quarterback who’s playing well, but all these guys are subject to injury or ineffective play.”
Harsh but fair.
And oddsmakers clearly agree. The USFL point totals this weekend are much lower than totals in the NFL, where the average total ranges from 44 to 47. Saturday’s four USFL games are totaled at 37.5, 38.5, 38.5 and 39.5.
“The biggest question heading into year two of the USFL involves the level of talent,” Eager explained. “Some of the better players – like quarterbacks Luis Perez, Kyle Sloter and Paxton Lynch – left for other leagues, and several offensive linemen and playmakers followed suit.
“There’s no way I can bet a lot of ‘Overs’ the first weekend because we don’t know enough about the talent level across the league, and we probably need a week to calibrate how the new rules will affect the final scores.”
When it comes to future bets, Eager circled Philadelphia.
The Stars were in the driver’s seat of last summer’s USFL Championship. Case Cookus threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Devin Gray and after a successful two-point conversion, Philly led 23-20 with 11:18 to play in the game.
But Cookus broke his fibula taking a sack on the Stars’ next drive and the rest was history. Backup quarterback K.J. Costello hurled two interceptions [including the game-deciding pick-six], and Birmingham emerged victorious.
Eager believes in redemption this year.
“Cookus is clearly the best quarterback, and Bart Andrus is a really good head coach,” he said. “The betting value is on Philadelphia [+550] at that price.”
Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and NESN. He previously worked for WGN Radio, NBC Sports and VSiN. He’ll probably pick against your favorite team. Follow him on Twitter @spshoot.
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