With four weeks to go in the regular season, the USFL’s playoff races are heating up.
In fact, a couple of contests this weekend could have major implications for the postseason, with the Birmingham Stallions (6-0) and New Jersey Generals (5-1) both in position to clinch playoff berths.
The Philadelphia Stars also have an opportunity to widen the gap between themselves and the Michigan Panthers and Pittsburgh Maulers for the second and final playoff spot in the North Division.
Check out RJ Young’s latest USFL Power Rankings for a look at the big picture.
USFL Power Rankings after Week 6
The undefeated Birmingham Stallions remain at the top, followed by the New Jersey Generals at No. 2. See how RJ Young’s list shakes out.
Here is a primer for Week 7:
New Jersey Generals (5-1) vs. Tampa Bay Bandits (3-3)
Saturday, 12 p.m. ET on USA
Last week: Mike Riley’s Generals won their fifth straight game last week in dramatic fashion, 26-25 over the Houston Gamblers, when quarterback Luis Perez pushed the ball into the end zone as time expired.
The Generals, who haven’t lost since Week 1 against Birmingham, set a new standard for ball-control against Houston, putting together a 23-play, 95-yard drive that ate up the entire third quarter.
The Bandits, meanwhile, were unable to capitalize on a 333-yard, four-touchdown outing by quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, losing 35-28 to Philadelphia.
Players to watch: For New Jersey, keep your eye on wideout KaVontae Turpin, who is coming off a 10-catch, 106-yard performance against Houston and appears to be developing into a star.
For Tampa Bay, former Arizona State linebacker Christian Sam has been everywhere of late. Against the Stars last week, he had eight tackles (seven solo), including three tackles for loss.
New Orleans Breakers (4-2) vs. Michigan Panthers (1-5)
Saturday, 9 p.m. ET on FS1 and streaming in the FOX Sports app
Last week: The Breakers found their rhythm at the line of scrimmage after Week 5’s fits-and-starts in a loss to the Generals, and they responded with a 26-16 victory over Pittsburgh.
The Panthers started strong against Birmingham but were outscored 20-7 in the second half of a 33-17 defeat. Michigan has now lost three in a row.
Players to watch: The Breakers are loaded with skill players on offense, but linebacker Jerod Fernandez has quietly played like a USFL All-Star. He made 11 tackles (eight solo) against Pittsburgh on Sunday and now has 36 on the season.
For Michigan, keep an eye on quarterback Josh Love, who is expected to start after the team waived Shea Patterson this week. Interestingly, Patterson was immediately picked up by New Orleans, so he’ll be on the other sideline staring across at his former teammates on Saturday — though Kyle Sloter figures to hold onto the starting role.
Birmingham Stallions (6-0) vs. Pittsburgh Maulers (1-5)
Sunday, 2 p.m. ET on FOX and streaming in the FOX Sports app
Last week: The Stallions continued to roll in Week 6, pulling away late to beat the Panthers and remain the USFL’s lone undefeated team. The Stallions received a huge contribution from newly signed running back Bo Scarbrough. The former Alabama star rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries and later spoke to RJ Young about his breakout performance.
Bo Scarbrough discusses his breakout outing in the USFL
RJ Young sits down with Birmingham Stallions running back Bo Scarbrough to discuss Scarbrough’s impressive debut in the USFL.
The Maulers were unable to build momentum following their first win of the season in Week 5, falling to New Orleans. Quarterback Vad Lee didn’t let Pittsburgh go down without a fight, however, leading a pair of last-gasp scoring drives in the fourth quarter.
Players to watch: Stallions QB J’Mar Smith had a substandard game last week, completing only 13 of 26 pass attempts for 143 yards — though he did toss two TD passes without an interception. Now that the Stallions have established Scarbrough in the running game, look for Smith to bounce back.
For Pittsburgh, keep an eye on defensive tackle Ethan Westbrooks. His numbers might not be gaudy, but he has been a force up front for the Maulers, occupying blockers to let his teammates roam free to make plays.
FOX Sports Draft Analyst Rob Rang detailed what made Westbrooks so tough: “Lining up inside and out, the 6-foot-4, 287-pounder showed power, agility and the clean technique one might expect of a player with 68 games of NFL experience under his belt.”
Philadelphia Stars (3-3) vs. Houston Gamblers (1-5)
Sunday, 6 p.m. ET on Peacock
Last week: The Stars have spent the bulk of the season establishing themselves as a passing team, then flipped the script on Tampa Bay last week, unleashing running back Matt Colburn for an 18-carry, 140-yard, three-TD performance. The result was a 35-28 victory.
Houston’s struggles closing out games continued, meanwhile, as the Gamblers lost to New Jersey on the last play of the game. It was the second straight week the Gamblers had lost as time expired and the third straight week they lost in the game’s final 10 seconds.
Players to watch: Philadelphia linebacker Jordan Moore is a thrill to watch run, which makes sense considering he is a former Big 12 and SEC 110-meter hurdles champion. He has 37 tackles, two sacks and an interception this season.
Speaking of exciting linebackers, Houston’s Donald Payne is as good as it gets. Payne is a tackling machine — he had 18 on Sunday and has two sacks and 76 tackles this season.
Get more from United States Football League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more.