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USFL Playoffs: Round 1 betting preview

Birmingham, AL, USA; New Jersey Generals running back Darius Victor (27) runs the ball against Birmingham Stallions defensive lineman Dondrea Tillman (99) at Protective Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The USFL is down to just four remaining teams after an electric 10-week regular season. A few highlights from the year:

  • Parity: 24 of 40 contests (60%) were decided by seven or fewer points. The 2-8 Panthers (-25 point differential) and 3-7 Gamblers (-12) were far more competitive than their records indicated, and the Maulers (-96) were the only truly terrible team.
  • Ballers balling: The All-USFL Offense and Defense Teams are littered with players who, at the very least, could score an invite to an NFL training camp in the near future. MVP Generals WR KaVontae Turpin and Panthers RB Reggie Corbin lead the offense while Gamblers DE Chris Odom had a good case to be the single-best player in the league.
  • Live summer football: Teeth have been knocked out. Celebration lines have been crossed. Are you not entertained?

Now, a two-week single-elimination tournament will crown a champion. It’s truly a great day to be great.

Philadelphia Stars vs. New Jersey Generals

  • When: Saturday (6/25) at 3:00 p.m. ET
  • Spread: Generals -4.5
  • Game total: 47.5

The 6-4 Stars take on the 9-1 Generals. Point differential (+50 vs. +19) demonstrates the reality that New Jersey was the more complete team throughout the regular season. Still, this is a battle of the league’s top two offenses in yards per play (Generals 5.7, Stars 5.5), and nobody scored more points than Philadelphia (26.2 per game) over the course of the entire season.

Series history

  • Week 3: Generals 24, Stars 16
  • Week 10: Generals 26, Stars 23

Week 3 was unfortunately the last time we saw Stars Week 1 starting QB Bryan Scott (ankle). Ultimately, Philly couldn’t contain the Generals’ three-pronged backfield attack, as RB Trey Williams (19-110-0), RB Darius Victor (13-49-2) and QB De’Andre Johnson (11-91-1) posted big days on the ground. Turpin chipped in 92 scoreless yards from eight touches. Case Cookus did a good job keeping things close, but ultimately, the Generals dominated time of possession (36:48 vs. 23:12) as well as the total yardage battle (453 vs. 259) and came away with the victory.

The teams more recently squared off … last week! Both teams had already clinched a playoff berth, but each decided to play its starters for the usual amount of snaps anyway. The result was a competitive back-and-forth affair that featured a game-ending interception courtesy of Shalom Luani. Similar to the first matchup, New Jersey managed to hold the ball plenty and dominate time of possession (35:05 vs. 24:55), but the Stars did keep things far closer in terms of total yards (410 vs. 328) this time around.

Top playmakers to watch

RB Darius Victor and WR KaVontae Turpin (NJ)

The USFL’s offensive player of the year (Victor) and MVP (Turpin) have been the heart and soul of the league’s most-efficient offense all season long.

Victor’s physical running style has been on display. Overall, nobody:

  1. Racked up more rushing yards after contact (443).
  2. Found the end zone more as a rusher (9).
  3. Gained more first downs on the ground (44).

And then there’s Turpin, who is the USFL’s 155-pound version of Deebo Samuel. Credit to coach Mike Riley for finding creative ways to get the ball in Turpin’s hands all season long, as he’s found a way to flash in a meaningful way as a receiver, rusher, and returner.

Turpin (86.7) and Victor (85.8) were PFF’s top-two highest-graded players on offense in the regular season. The Generals will need them to keep on keeping on if they hope to advance to the championship.

QB Case Cookus and RB Matt Colburn (PHI)

Cookus’ Week 8 performance was inarguably the single-best performance from a USFL quarterback all season. Overall, he completed 20 of 26 passes for 247 yards and four touchdowns through the air while also adding a monster 79-yard touchdown scamper. Madness. Overall, Cookus led the Philadelphia offense to at least 35 points on three separate occasions this season — no other offense reached that threshold even once.

Colburn has established himself as the running back in Philadelphia over the second half of the season:

  • Week 6: 18-140-3 rushing, 2-12-0 receiving
  • Week 7: 22-81-1 rushing, 4-14-0 receiving
  • Week 8: 15-41-1 rushing, 3-49-1 receiving
  • Week 9: 12-97-1 rushing, 1-6-0 receiving
  • Week 10: 10-39-1 rushing, 2-23-0 receiving

The Stars finished the season as the league’s most pass-happy offense (65.5%) while the Generals were the USFL’s most run-heavy (46.2%) group. Philadelphia’s ability to dominate the air and ground will be vital in case the team's once again has to deal with the Generals playing keep away for most of the game.

Key matchup for each offense to exploit

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