Two squads that went back and forth as the top team in the USFL all season will meet in the second semifinal. The New Orleans Breakers started the season 4-0 before finishing 7-3 and the defending champion Birmingham Stallions finished at 8-2.
This game will be played on Sunday night in Birmingham, AL, which was the host of the entire season and playoffs last year. The teams split the regular season series with New Orleans taking the first matchup 45-31 in Week 3 and Birmingham taking the second 24-20 in Week 7.
After a 3-1 record last week on picks, I finished 24-16 for the regular season.
Check out my USFL picks and predictions for the Breakers and Stallions on June 25.
Birmingham Stallions vs New Orleans Breakers odds
Sunday, June 25, 7 p.m. ET, FOX
|Birmingham Stallions||New Orleans Breakers|
|-3 (-110)||Spread||+3 (-110)|
|Over 44.5 (-110)||Total||Under 44.5 (-110)|
Odds courtesy of DraftKings as of June 23, 2023.
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Stallions vs Breakers predictions
This game probably deserves to be the championship bout, so this semifinal matchup will be a must-see event. Both regular season matchups were barn burners and I expect similar fireworks this time around as the Stallions and the Breakers were the two highest-scoring teams in the USFL this year.
Birmingham led the league in scoring at 28.7 points per contest. It also led the league in passing touchdowns, fewest interceptions thrown, and kick return touchdowns. The pleasant surprise of Alex McGough at quarterback was the major reason for these incredible numbers.
McGough entered the opening game of the season for the injured J’Mar Smith late in the second quarter. He took off from there, finishing the game with 68 yards passing, 51 yards rushing, and two total touchdowns. McGough finished the season with 2,104 passing yards, 403 rushing yards, and 25 total touchdowns.
On the other end, New Orleans led the league in passing yards per game, offensive plays run, and first downs gained. A major reason for this success was bringing in quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson from the CFL. He threw for 2,433 yards and 14 touchdowns in his inaugural season in the Big Easy.
The Breakers also had the leading rusher in the USFL with Wes Hills. He ran for 679 yards and 10 touchdowns after taking over the lead-back role in Week 2. In Week 3, Hills had 191 yards rushing and three touchdowns against Birmingham. He was “held” to 77 yards rushing in the Week 7 matchup.
When these teams meet, big things happen. There were 76 points scored in the first matchup and 44 in the second. The showdown between Bethel-Thompson and McGough will be fantastic and my best bet is the Over because of it.
Pick: Over 44.5 (-110 at DraftKings)
Stallions vs Breakers spread analysis
The spread in this game is only Birmingham -3, but that is not too surprising given the regular season matchups being split. Both games were also played in Birmingham, so the location should not make much of a difference.
Birmingham closed out the season on a five-game winning streak, winning by an average margin of 10.2 points, including a four-point victory over these very Breakers. They have not scored fewer than 20 points all season, so the Breakers will need to score big to have a chance.
New Orleans finished the season on a three-game winning streak after their prior loss to Birmingham. The Breakers went through some midseason woes on offense, scoring just 13.3 points per game during their three-game losing streak. However, they scored 28.1 points per contest in their seven wins.
This is an extremely tough call on picking either team, but the Stallions are the champs and they are the hotter team. McGough has proven to show up in the big moments all season and he will likely shine again this time around. I would make a slight lean toward the Stallions.
Stallions vs Breakers total analysis
As mentioned earlier, the Over is my best bet in this game.
Besides everything already mentioned, these are the two best kicking teams in the USFL. They are the only two teams that were perfect on extra points and they each only missed one field goal all season. In the rare instance of a stalled drive, they are almost a lock for three points as long as they're remotely within range.
The Stallions led the league in kick return touchdowns and the Breakers led in kick return yards without a touchdown. So, field position will be a strong starting point for these two explosive offenses. We may see a shootout similar to their Week 3 matchup as a result.