Last USFL season, the Birmingham Stallions were in an ideal spot entering week nine. They were undefeated and had already clinched the top spot in the South Division. Since home-field advantage was not at stake with all postseason games taking place in Canton, Ohio, the Stallions did not have anything to worry about as the season wrapped up.
Not so this year.
Entering week nine, the Birmingham Stallions have the best record in the USFL at 6-2. However, despite that fact, they could still miss the playoffs. On top of that, home-field advantage is at stake this season.
Let’s consider what the Stallions need to do to secure a spot in the postseason as well as for that game to take place in Birmingham. Then we’ll look at how it all could play out.
MAKING THE PLAYOFFS
The path to the playoffs is actually quite simple for the Stallions: win and you are in. The Stallions are one game ahead of every other team in the South. At best, Houston, New Orleans, and Memphis can only finish 7-3. If the Stallions win one more game, they will also have seven wins. Since the South teams will all be playing each other over the next two weeks, it’s impossible for more than two teams to finish 7-3.
So if the Stallions win one more game, they are a lock for the playoffs.
PLAYING IN BIRMINGHAM
Because the New Orleans Breakers are also a part of the Birmingham hub, there are two ways the Stallions can play a playoff game in Birmingham (assuming they make it). If either New Orleans or Birmingham finishes atop the South, the game will be at Protective Stadium. If either Memphis or Houston finishes in first instead, the game will be played in Memphis.
Because of tie-breakers, the only way the Stallions can finish first is if they have the best overall record.
PLAYOFF TIEBREAKERS for division teams with same won-lost records:
1. Head-to-head 2. Best won-lost % in games played within the division 3. Strength of victory (aggregate won-lost % of teams defeated) 4. Best net points all games 5. Best net touchdowns all games 6. Coin toss
If the Stallions and another team both finish 7-3, they will either have a worse head-to-head record (Gamblers) or a worse divisional record (Showboats and Breakers), meaning the Stallions will finish in second.
So there are three scenarios where the Stallions could play in Birmingham:
If they finish 8-2.
If they finish 7-3 and every other team finishes 6-4.
If the Breakers and Stallions both finish 7-3.
If either Houston or Memphis finishes 7-3 as does Birmingham, then the playoff game would be in Memphis.
HOW IT COULD PLAY OUT
There are essentially three things that could happen this weekend. Let’s consider each one.
1: First, the Stallions could win, and the Breakers could win. This is the best-case scenario for the Stallions. This would guarantee the Stallions are in the playoffs, and it would guarantee the game will be played in Birmingham. If Houston and Memphis both lost, neither could finish 7-3 and host the playoff.
2: Second, the Stallions could win, and the Showboats could win. The Stallions would be guaranteed a playoff spot, but home-field advantage would go to the winner of the Stallions-Showboats game in week 10.
3: Third, the Stallions could lose. In that case, they would have to win in week 10 to make the playoffs. For that game to be played in Birmingham, New Orleans would have to beat Houston in week 10.
The level of parity in the USFL this season is insane. If the Birmingham Stallions lose this weekend, we won’t know who is going to be in the South Division playoff game until the final play of week 10. Even if the Stallions win, we won’t know who their opponent will be until after week 10 is over.
Buckle up, everyone. It is going to be a wild ride.
Do you think the Birmingham Stallions will make the USFL playoffs? Will they host a USFL playoff game? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!