FOX sports betting analyst
The USFL’s second season begins Saturday.
Birmingham cruised through the inaugural campaign with a 9-1 regular season record, then beat New Orleans by two touchdowns in the division final and defeated Philadelphia 33-30 in the USFL championship.
The Stallions should be just as solid in 2023.
“The downtown structure gave Birmingham a strong home field advantage, and obviously they won the whole thing,” SumerSports vice president of research and development Eric Eager told FOX Sports. “The Stallions didn’t win the title at home, but the constant home cooking was ideal for them all season.
“I’m excited for year two,” continued Eager. “We’ll get a decent idea of the longevity of the league and find out if the talent level can rise.”
To no one’s surprise, Birmingham is favored to reclaim it and hoist another championship trophy on July 1 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.
Here are each team’s title odds Bet FOX:
Birmingham Stallions: +300 (bet $10 to win $40 total)
New Jersey Generals: +300 (bet $10 to win $40 total)
New Orleans Breakers: +500 (bet $10 to win $60 total)
Philadelphia Stars: +550 (bet $10 to win $65 total)
Memphis Showboats: +550 (bet $10 to win $65 total)
Houston players: +600 (bet $10 to win $70 total)
Michigan Panthers: +700 (bet $10 to win $80 total)
Pittsburgh Maulers: +800 (bet $10 to win $90 total)
*Odds from 4/14/2023
USFL unveils new clock rules
Watch this for the new USFL clock rules for the 2023 season.
Eager studied applied mathematics and mathematical biology at Nebraska and wrote his Ph.D. thesis on population dynamics. He has been building statistical models for the better part of two decades and routinely simulates any football game 10,000 times with hot streaks and cold streaks.
Eat numbers like we eat breakfast.
“There are four levels in the USFL,” Eager opined. “The Stallions are 6 points better than the average team at a neutral site, making them clear favorites. The Generals and Stars are 2.5 points above average, the Breakers are average League.  and the others are all between 2.5 and 3 points below the average.
“Birmingham is a 9-point favorite over Pittsburgh in neutral”.
Eager’s first three teams have clear starters at quarterback, and the only reason New Orleans went back is because the Breakers replace starter Kyle Sloter. He is currently a free agent after being released by the Jacksonville Jaguars and having a cup of coffee with the Arlington Renegades.
Anyway…you need strong quarterback play to be successful.
“Last year you played a solid quarterback from Philadelphia, Birmingham, New Orleans and sometimes New Jersey,” Eager said. “Case Cookus is back for the Stars and J’Mar Smith is back for the Stallions. That’s the kind of thing that stays in a high-turnover league.
“You have what you always get in these leagues where the quarterback play is erratic and even the guys who are good get hurt because they’re not NFL-caliber quarterbacks who have the tools to run and protect- yes
“These leagues are all about a quarterback playing well, but all of these guys are subject to injury or ineffective play.”
Rough but fair.
And the oddsmakers clearly agree. The USFL’s point totals this weekend are well below the NFL’s totals, where the average total ranges from 44 to 47. The four USFL games on Saturday are 37.5, 38.5, 38 .5 and 39.5.
“The biggest question heading into the second year of the USFL involves the talent level,” Eager explained. “Some of the best players, like quarterbacks Luis Perez, Kyle Sloter and Paxton Lynch, left for other leagues and several offensive linemen and playmakers followed suit.
“There’s no way I can bet many ‘Overs’ on the first weekend because we don’t know enough about the level of talent across the league and we probably need a week to gauge how the new rules will affect the bottom line.”
When it comes to future bets, Eager circled Philadelphia.
The Stars were last summer’s USFL championship driver. Case Cookus threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Devin Gray and after a successful two-point conversion, Philly led 23-20 with 11:18 left in the game.
But Cookus broke his fibula taking a sack on the Stars’ next drive and the rest was history. Backup quarterback KJ Costello threw two interceptions [including the game-deciding pick six]and Birmingham emerged victorious.
Eager believes in redemption this year.
“Cookus is clearly the better quarterback, and Bart Andrus is a very good head coach,” he said. “The betting value is in Philadelphia [+500] at this price.”
Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and NESN. He previously worked for WGN Radio, NBC Sports and VSiN. He will probably pick against your favorite team. Follow him on Twitter @sprout.
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