USFL Playoffs: A breakdown of all 4 teams

By Jordan Meneo

The United States Football League has surprised a lot of people. It’s doing what the AAFL and XFL couldn’t… finish out a complete season. While viewership hasn’t been ideal for the league, the games have certainly been exciting. Despite there being one week left in the regular season, all four playoff spots have been clinched. We’ll take a look at each team before the postseason kicks off on June 25.

In one semifinal, the Birmingham Stallions will face the New Orleans Breakers while in the other, the New Jersey Generals and Philadelphia Stars will clash. Let’s take a look at each team.

Birmingham Stallions (8-1)

The Birmingham Stallions have been widely regarded as the best team in the league. They are the #1 are the favorites for the USFL Championship. However, their hopes for a perfect season were squandered in week nine as they lost 17-15 in a close game against Houston. Despite this loss though, Birmingham is still the most well-rounded team in the league. The offense mostly attacks through a strong ground game led by Bo Scarborough who averages 62.8 yards a game. However, it’s the defense that sticks out for this team. The Stallions allow the fewest yards a game (267.1) and the second-fewest points per game (15.9).

The defense is led by former Ole Miss (NCAA D1) linebacker, DeMarquis Gates. Gates leads the team in tackles with 57 and has 5.5 sacks on the year. Gates and Scarborough will be the
keys to the championship for Birmingham. If those two can step up in the postseason, it’s hard to see anyone stop them. They’ll face off against the New Orleans Breakers who they swept in the regular season. The biggest thing for the Stallions right now is being able to shake off last week’s defeat.

New Orleans Breakers (6-3)

The New Orleans Breakers are a hard team to figure out. In some games they look amazing, while in others they look like they couldn’t win a high school game. Ultimately, the way they play is up to them. When they’re feeling good, it’s something special to watch.

A big reason the Breakers are in the playoffs is their defense. They give up the fewest points a game in the league (15.5). Linebacker Vontae Diggs, who’s played in five different football leagues, gives this team a lot of much-needed experience. He leads the team in tackles with 66 and has a physical presence on the field. The thing that ends up killing them though, is the offense. New Orleans has the league leader in passing in Kyle Slotter (1,798). Take a look closer though and you’ll see that Sloter has thrown only nine touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions. This has prompted the team to give Zach Smith a few looks under center. If the Breakers want a chance to beat Birmingham, their offense has to show up. When these two teams  last met in week seven, the Breakers had a great chance to win that game. It should not be a shock to see this New Orleans team move onto the championship. However, to do that, their offense has to take all of the pressure off of that defense.

New Jersey Generals (8-1)

The New Jersey Generals are hands down the electric team to watch. Every one of their games is must-watch football. They are on an eight-game winning streak with their only loss being to Birmingham in week one. The Generals are one of a few teams whose offense steals the show. In many cases in these spring leagues, the offenses can leave a bad taste in your mouth… but not with this team. They are league leaders in yards per game (342.7) and have the best rushing attack with a league-leading average of 158.7 yards a game. This rushing attack is due in large to Darius Victor. Victor leads the league in touchdowns (9) and is second in rushing yards (543). But don’t let this running game fool you; New Jersey is well equipped through the air too. Former EFL player, Kavontae Turpin, has been balling for the Generals. He leads the league in both receiving yards (472) and punt return yards (184). New Jersey also has two capable quarterbacks. Luis Perez has six touchdowns to only one interception. He brings accuracy to the team. De’andre Johnson, however, brings a speed factor under center as he’s rushed for 277 yards in eight games.

New Jersey is set to face off against Philly. This won’t be an easy task for the Generals but if their offensive playmakers continue to show up, they will book their ticket to the championship.

Philadelphia Stars (6-3)

The Philadelphia Stars, are, perhaps undeservedly, the biggest underdog in the postseason. They’re on a four-game winning streak and carry all the momentum in the world. The Stars, at quick glance, look like they have an elite defense. They lead the league in turnover differential (+9) and interceptions (13). They’re also second in forced fumbles (10). This all looks amazing, but then you zoom in and realize Philly allows the second-most yards a game (338.7). A defense cannot survive solely relying on turnovers. They have to be able to be strong
up front and play fundamentally.

Luckily for the defense, the Stars have a rising star on offense in quarterback Case Cookus. Cookus is second in the league in passing touchdowns (10) to only four interceptions. He’s also
a major factor with his legs. In week eight, he racked up 118 yards on the ground. If Philly wants a shot at the championship, their defense is going to have to keep improving
up front. They also need their quarterback to be a stud and have another week eight performance. New Jersey is a very good team, but with all the momentum the Stars have right now,
who knows what will happen?

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