The betting odds for week one of the USFL were released today on Fox Bet, and each week I’ll be giving my five best bets and lock for the week. Going into the second season of a professional spring football league is a rarity, but great for gamblers. We now have something to go off of with players and staff being retained throughout the league. Of course, we have seen some change, but that’s normal during any professional sports league offseason.
The Stars will travel to Memphis and face the Showboats to kick off the 2023 USFL regular season. As we know, Philly made it all the way to the USFL Championship last season after defeating the New Jersey Generals in Canton, Ohio during the North Division Playoffs. They fell to the Stallions 33-30 in a thriller, after Case Cookus exited with a broken leg still with the lead. The Showboats are back in the league, taking over for the Tampa Bay Bandits and are still led by Todd Haley, but with a new look and namesake. With Case Cookus at the helm, I have a lot of confidence backing the Stars here. Only giving 2.5 to a team that missed the playoffs last year and lost Jordan Ta’amu feels low. I expect Philly’s offense to be potent again this season and I don’t think Memphis will have the firepower to keep up, despite a good home crowd backing them.
The Birmingham Stallions will play host to the Generals Saturday night in a rematch of last year’s incredible opener. Both of these teams went 9-1 last year, with the Generals sole regular season loss being to the Stallions. Both squads have kept over half their rosters from year one as well. I was surprised to see New Jersey be week one’s biggest underdogs, but they did lose quarterback Luis Perez and MVP KaVontae Turpin. Rushing attacks travel and Generals had the best in the league last season. The defending champs will be great again this year and I certainly have a lot of confidence in what they can do this season. I think this game will be a close contest and could go either way. I love taking the points here in what I expect to be a shootout between two of last year’s best offenses.
The Houston Gamblers were gutted this offseason throughout their roster and coaching staff. The Michigan Panthers seem to be a team that can fight for a playoff spot in the North after winning just two games last season. The quarterback situation for Michigan is between Carson Strong and Jordan Love, but star running back Reggie Corbin is back for another season. I like Gamblers quarterback Kenji Bahar a lot, but he’s unproven. In a battle of two new head coaches and young quarterbacks, I expect the run game to be leaned on heavily by both sides. These were two of the premier defenses last year, so I see a low-scoring defensive struggle to start their seasons.
This matchup between the Maulers and Breakers in Birmingham was the toughest decision I had to make for the opening weekends slate. Pittsburgh’s defense was the best part of their team last year and after parting ways with Head Coach Kirby Wilson, I do expect a big improvement over their one-win season. New Orleans is now led by Head Coach John DeFilippo and the best quarterback room in the league, in my opinion. It appears we will see McLeod Bethel-Thompson start for the Breakers and I love their offensive potential. Despite the Maulers being much more competitive in the North this year, I don’t see them being able to cover the number. I’m high on DeFilippo’s offense and their playmakers, Johnnie Dixon and Jonathan Adams. The hook does worry me, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this game come down to a field goal.
Lock: Michigan Panthers (+1.5) @ Houston Gamblers
I like the Panthers to win outright so I’ll gladly take the points here. I expect the Gamblers to be near the bottom of the South and the entire league this year, and I don’t know how well they will move the ball against Head Coach Mike Nolan’s defense. Michigan’s defense was formidable last year, and I only see it improving under Coach Nolan’s leadership. That combined with one of the weakest rosters in Houston makes me very confident in the Panthers going into Memphis and taking this one.
What are your wagers for USFL week 1? Let us know down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.