The USFL’s opening weekend got off to a strong start with over 3 million viewers watching Saturday night’s game between the New Jersey Generals and the Birmingham Stallions. However, Sunday’s triple-header was cut short when inclement weather forced the league to reschedule the Tampa Bay-Pittsburgh game to Monday night.
From a betting perspective, the favorite went 2-1 and two of the three games ended under the total. As is usual with new spring football leagues, defense was ahead of attacks. The first three games averaged 40.3 points, but that included two defensive touchdowns.
The most impressive team on both sides of the ball were the New Orleans Breakers. The Breakers defeated the Philadelphia Stars 23-17 as 3-point favorites. New Orleans totaled 321 yards on offense, including 171 rushing yards. On defense, the Breakers recorded six sacks and held Philadelphia at 4.5 yards per play. New Orleans meets the Tampa Bay Bandits in Week 2.
The best game of week 2 seems to be Birmingham vs Houston Gamblers. The Stallions scored a late touchdown to beat New Jersey and rewarded Birmingham bettors with a cover. Backup quarterback Ja’Mar Smith replaced injured Alex McGough for the Stallions. He finished with 156 yards passing and scored two touchdowns.
Starting as quarterback for Birmingham in Week 2, they face a Houston defense that conceded just 12 points to Michigan but gave up 383 yards overall and hurt 190 yards on the ground. The stallions started as 3.5-point favorites with a total of 42.
Looking at the overall impact of the league on the betting landscape, the USFL has a steep rise up ahead. The week 1 lines weren’t even available to customers in New York, Indiana and West Virginia, so that’s a large group of bettors who can’t legally bet on the games.
Another problem is that the league debuted at the same time as the NBA playoffs. If you were on social media this weekend, it was obvious that most of the bettor’s attention was focused on the NBA games. There was very little discussion of USFL betting outside of the Stallions late touchdown to cover the 3-point spread.
The opening weekend of games was well played for a Spring Football League, but at the end of the day it’s just a watered down version of the NFL. There was nothing innovative on the field. My biggest complaint with the spring football leagues is that they hire unimaginative over-the-hill coaches.
The Generals, led by Mike Riley, ran the football 24 consecutive times in the second half. Option offensives like Air Force and Army don’t run the ball 24 times in a row. The Michigan Panthers, led by Jeff Fisher, ran the ball 46 times.
It’s hard to build a large audience when old coaches are using outdated attacks with inferior players. It’s just not exciting football that would draw people into a new league and if the product doesn’t encourage people to keep watching then they won’t bet.
Will the USFL survive? That remains to be seen. The league has the support of two major networks. Even if the USFL makes it through multiple seasons, it’s doubtful the league will ever get a foothold in bettors. There’s just too much competition coming spring with March Madness, NBA playoffs and MLB for a new football league to ever make a serious impact on the betting world. Save your money for fall.
https://nypost.com/2022/04/19/usfl-has-too-much-competition-with-nba-mlb-to-wow-bettors/ USFL has too much competition with NBA, MLB to excite bettors