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|Team||Point Spread||Points Total||Money Line|
|Michigan Panthers||+6.5 (+100)
|Birmingham Stallions||-6.5 (-120)
No doubt the Stallions will lose a game this season, but chances are it will not be to these offensively weak Panthers.
Birmingham Stallions (-350)
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USFL Player J’Mar Smith as a quarterback on the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
The second half of the 2022 USFL season begins with a Week 6 Saturday double-header featuring a cross-divisional night game between the one-win Michigan Panthers of the North and the undefeated hometown Birmingham Stallions of the South, a spring football favorite.
Michigan head coach Jeff Fisher cannot be happy that his 1-4 Panthers are ranked seventh out of eight teams in the USFL power rankings, their offense struggling to put points on the scoreboard while DC Daniel Carrel’s defense is tied for fewest points allowed per game.
Whatever Birmingham head coach Skip Holtz is telling his young players, it is obviously working to the tune of a 5-0 start to the season along with a solid 2-game lead in the South Division, and that’s despite some slow starts to games topped by many exciting time consuming comebacks.
The Panthers have a solid defense that keeps opponents to just 16 points per game, but that hasn’t mattered to the one-win team since their rush-centric offense has only averaged just over 17 points each matchup, not enough to get the job done against these high-scoring Stallions.
Michigan is banking on a solid rush attack to anchor its offense, their dependence on RB Reggie Corbin (see below) out of the backfield as both a runner and a pass catcher understandable, though a solid pass game to counterbalance his running would be helpful.
Last week in Michigan’s loss to the Tampa Bay Bandits, 20-27, it was QB Shea Patterson who showed up and posted some impressive offensive stats, completing 23 of 37 for 304 yards on a 62.2 completion percentage with one touchdown and an interception on the day.
When a team is undefeated, it seems ridiculous to critique them in any way, the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ strategy typically effective in most cases, though in pro football it’s a copycat game and opponents are most likely hunting down the Birmingham Stallions few weaknesses.
One would be their slow starts so far this season, their ability to come from behind in the second half to earn wins has been demonstrated without a doubt, so now it might be time for head coach Skip Holtz to begin looking for some faster starts for their offense to rely on.
Some pro teams start slow and get better as the game progresses, and if that is how the 5-0 Stallions identify, then so be it, it’s working, but if they expect to win the championship it might help to unlock whatever secret is keeping them from getting on the scoreboard in the first half.
Ranked in the top-10 for all-purpose yards earned in the USFL this season is Michigan Panthers RB Reggie Corbin, an athletic runner who has 431 total yards this season, with 337 of those coming on the ground and 26 of them through the air along with 68 yards worth of kick returns.
Corbin is a 5’ 10” 200-pound former Fighting Illini who finished his college career with 2,361 career rushing yards – 12th-most in Illinois history – a solid runner with soft enough hands to be QB Patterson’s checkdown receiver in a pinch, which helps Michigan’s offense stay on the field.
The other Panther back who has been getting his share of carries is Stevie Scott III, a 6’ 1” 225-pound Indiana alum who is 22-years old and has 51 carries for the Panthers for 167 yards and two touchdowns, a Syracuse, New York native now giving RB Corbin plenty of breathers.
There are a lot of reasons the Birmingham Stallions are undefeated this season in the USFL, and QB J’Mar Smith is one of them, the 6’ 1” 218 pound Louisiana Tech alum who seems to have taken to the pro level despite being waived by the New England Patriots back in 2020.
Now under center for head coach Skip Holtz, Smith has started twice and played in four games total (along with QB Alex McGough), so far with 63 completions for 784 yards and 6 passing TDs with just two INTs, his QBR at 130.3 and right now he is ranked 3rd among USFL QBs.
What the Stallions are able to do is get on the board, often in the second half when they have had to get back into the game, so far averaging almost 26 points per outing, a sign that their offense is effective, the proof being their 5-0 record with a good chance of 6-0 after this week.
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|Panthers vs Stallions Information|
|What||Michigan Panthers vs Birmingham Stallions|
|Where||Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama|
|When||Saturday, May 21, 2022; 7:30 PM ET|
|How to watch||NBC|
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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