The USFL Championship game is set for Saturday night at the legendary Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, OH. The Birmingham Stallions won the lone regular season matchup over the Pittsburgh Maulers, 24-20, in Week 4 at this same location.
The two semifinal games from last weekend had vastly different outcomes. The Maulers needed overtime to topple the Michigan Panthers, while the Stallions put away the New Orleans Breakers early and never looked back.
After a 1-1 record last week on picks, I am 25-17 on the regular season and playoffs.
Can the Stallions secure their second straight title? Check out my USFL picks and predictions for Maulers vs Stallions on July 1.
Pittsburgh Maulers vs Birmingham Stallions
Saturday, July 1, 8 p.m. ET, NBC
|Pittsburgh Maulers||Birmingham Stallions|
|+7.5 (-110)||Spread||-7.5 (-110)|
|Over 46 (-110)||Total||Under 46 (-110)|
Odds courtesy of DraftKings as of July 1.
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Maulers vs Stallions predictions
Pittsburgh has shocked the USFL world by ending up in the championship game. The Maulers went 1-9 last year and were 2-6 after Week 8 this season. However, they quickly turned things around to go on a three-game winning streak, and find themselves just four quarters away from going from last to first.
The Maulers were the best defensive team all season, but where they really turned things around was on the offensive end. Pittsburgh did not score their first offensive touchdown until late in the third quarter of Week 3. However, they have scored 25.3 points per game over their last three games.
Birmingham went through some mid-season struggles, losing in Weeks 3 and 5 and barely holding on to beat this Pittsburgh team in Week 4 back when the Maulers were not good. However, since that little slump, the Stallions have won every game by an average margin of 12.7 points. Last week, they jumped out to a 40-7 lead over New Orleans before finishing with a 25-point victory.
Quarterback Alex McGough — who was fantastic all season — threw for 310 yards and four touchdowns, and ran for 84 yards and another score. In the regular season matchup with Pittsburgh, McGough struggled a bit, but came through when it mattered. He recovered from two early interceptions to finish with two touchdowns and 203 total yards.
That matchup in Week 4 was the perfect spot for Pittsburgh to pull off the upset. However, they went 0-for-3 on converting red zone attempts into touchdowns and couldn’t take advantage of a +2 turnover differential. While Pittsburgh’s offense has improved recently, so has Birmingham overall.
The Stallions appear to be on a mission to repeat after some early season struggles. They completely dominated a much better team last week than this Maulers squad. I expect Birmingham to pounce early like last week and hold on with McGough’s playmaking ability. I will take the Stallions to win by double digits.
Pick: Birmingham -7 (-110 at DraftKings)
Not intended for use in MA.
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Maulers vs Stallions spread analysis
Birmingham held the top offense in the USFL to only 155 total yards through three quarters. New Orleans was able to rack up yards and points in the fourth quarter, but the game was well in hand at that point. Even Pittsburgh’s recent offense is not at the same level as New Orleans’ was.
Pittsburgh scored 31 points in the semifinal game against Michigan, but only finished with 291 total yards. Meanwhile, they allowed 410 total yards to a mediocre offense in Michigan. They also had a +3 turnover differential and really should not have needed overtime to win the game.
Birmingham has been susceptible to turning the ball over, but they make up for it with explosive plays and a great return game. Defensively, they allowed the most yards per game in the league, but were the third best team in points allowed per game. The Stallions are very much a bend but don’t break defense, and that is a good thing against an offense like Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh will be able to move the ball and may force a turnover or two. However, they will struggle in the red zone like they did last time, and they will have a much tougher time against the Birmingham offense than the last matchup. Birmingham will roll in this one.
Maulers vs Stallions total analysis
The total in this game is set at 46, which makes sense in many different ways. The last matchup between these two teams totaled 44 points. However, the two totals of the semifinals were 58 and 69 points, respectively, despite the first game being an expected low-scoring one.
In the Maulers’ three-game winning streak, the games averaged 38.7 total points. Meanwhile, in the Stallions’ six-game winning streak, the games averaged 50.7 total points. That leaves this total right in the middle, and it’s a tough call to make.
If I had to pick a side, I would lean towards the Over. I believe that the Stallions are going to roll and that would typically require more scoring. If it stays low-scoring, that would favor Pittsburgh, and Birmingham will be playing out of their gameplan. I think this Over should hit late, even if Birmingham is doing all the scoring early.