USFL Week 10 betting preview

Birmingham, AL, USA; New Jersey Generals wide receiver KaVontae Turpin (5) runs the ball for a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Maulers during the first half at Protective Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Week 10 of the USFL is here, and the playoffs are already decided, so there’s nothing to play for this week other than pure pride and bliss. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.

The potential for basically every team to throw their depth chart out the window in the final week of the regular season makes it tough to project DFS picks with much confidence. Instead, we’ll highlight 10 things about the league that have made it an enjoyable experience for dozens of us (dozens!) over the past two and a half months.

1. The games have generally been close

Close football doesn’t guarantee good football, but it’s not a bad start. While USFL games can swing by nine points on one touchdown thanks to their conversion settings, even going by the usual seven-point threshold to denote one-score games demonstrates the league-wide parity at hand. Overall, 22 of 36 contests (61%) have been decided by seven or fewer points. The 1-8 Panthers (-37 point differential) and 2-8 Gamblers (-29) haven’t been nearly as bad as their record indicates, as the only real dumpster fire from start to finish has been the Pittsburgh Maulers.

2. New Jersey Generals WR KaVontae Turpin

Nobody put together a better highlight reel in Weeks 1-9 than Turpin. Whether it was receiving, rushing, or returning, the man repeatedly proved tough to tackle and has been a big play waiting to happen all season long.

Through nine weeks, Turpin is PFF’s highest-graded offensive player (86.3). The next-closest player comes in at just 81.7, so it really hasn’t been close.  As the USFL’s receiving yards leader (472), Turpin should lie about his listed weight (155!) and hopefully land an NFL audition.

3. The quarterback play has been alright!

The following quarterbacks have flashed to at least some extent throughout the season listed in no particular order.:

  • Bandits QB Jordan Ta’amu: The XFL Hall of Famer didn’t quite repeat his past success but did put more than a few great throws on film while adding a 56-339-1 rushing line. Ta’amu leads the USFL in passing yards (1,819) and passing touchdowns (12) through nine weeks.
  • Breakers QB Kyle Sloter: As the USFL’s runner-up in passing yards (1,793), Sloter has played through a myriad of injuries all season long and managed to lead the Breakers to the playoffs anyway. His 414-yard performance back in Week 4 was one of the better single-game showings from a quarterback all season.
  • Stars QB Case Cookus: Meanwhile, 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.
  • Stars QB Bryan Scott: The Stars’ Week 1 starter, unfortunately, suffered an ankle injury in Week 3 and hasn’t played since. Still, his Week 2 (71.6 PFF grade) showed off the sort of upside he possesses in a pass-happy system, as Scott threw for 272 yards and a trio of scores while looking a lot like one of the league’s better options under center.
  • Generals QB De’Andre Johnson: Was leading the USFL in yards per attempt and yards per carry for a while. The dual-threat talent’s late-season ankle injury limited his second-half effectiveness, but nobody put more stress on opposing defenses with their legs than Johnson throughout the season.
  • Generals QB Luis Perez: PFF’s highest-graded passer (68.9, min. 25 dropbacks), Perez has improved his processing speed since his time with the AAF, as he figures to be leaned on more than ever throughout the Generals’ playoff stretch.
  • Maulers/Panthers QB Josh Love: It remains confusing why coach Kirby Wilson parted ways with Love, as his 8.8% big-time throw rate was literally double the next-closest quarterback (Perez, 4.4%). Yes, Love didn’t do a great job taking care of the ball (5.4% turnover-worthy play rate), but the highs were high, and that’s all you can really ask for in this type of league.

4. The kickers have been bad, but in an endearing way

The USFL kickers banded together to complain about tracking devices after a rough Week 1 before proceeding to miss far too many chip shots in Week 2. Things improved throughout the season with some true bombs here and there, but ultimately, the Generals (48% field goal conversion rate), Maulers (62%) and Bandits (64%) couldn’t get a reliable kicker to save their life. The same was true for the Panthers (67%) on extra points as well.

5. The Osirus Mitchell celebration

My single favorite moment of the season so far was Mitchell’s lovely touchdown catch against the Gamblers that turned into one of the best taunts the game has ever seen.

6. Michigan Panthers RB Reggie Corbin

Corbin is my pick for the best running back in the USFL. Pick a stat, any stat, and there’s a good chance he ranks highly in it.

  • PFF rushing grade: 84.5 (No. 1 among 21 qualified running backs)
  • Yards per carry: 6 (No. 1)
  • Yards after contact per carry: 4.4 (No. 1)
  • Missed tackles forced per carry: 0.21 (No. 5)

7. The hard-hitting nature of the league

Teeth are literally getting knocked out. Football! This league!

8. A fairly constant dose of trick plays

In Week 9, the Maulers converted a fake punt to extend their drive before executing a fake field goal to find the end zone. It was easily the coolest (only cool thing?) head coach Kirby Wilson accomplished all season. Overall, PFF labeled a whopping 80 plays as “trick plays” through nine weeks.

9. New Jersey Generals RB Darius Victor and Philadelphia Stars RB Matt Colburn

Obviously, comparing anybody in the USFL to a legit NFL player is wishful thinking, but putting realism aside for a second: Victor emerged as the league’s Doug Martin while Colburn was akin to Austin Ekeler. The former player posted 120-542-9 rushing and 14-111-0 receiving lines while the latter went for 91-412-7 rushing and 16-127-1 receiving lines due to serving as the engine of the Stars' offense in recent weeks.

10. The upcoming single-elimination playoffs

The 8-1 Generals square off with the 6-3 Stars next week to represent the North, while the 8-1 Stallions take on the 6-3 Breakers in the South. Per fellow PFF USFL diehard Eric Eager, each team has at least a 20% chance of capturing championship glory, but none better than 28.8%.

<insert tweet: 

Week 10 picks

Season ATS record: 20-16-1

Stars vs. Generals (-2.5):

The Philly quarterback room is a walking graveyard at this point, making their potential to overcome their ever-porous a tough ask against the league’s most efficient offense. I like the Generals -2.5 in this one. 

Stallions (-3.5) vs. Bandits

One of two matchups between one team preparing for the playoffs, and another that is dead: Give me the contender, as I'm picking Birmingham -3.5. The Stallions need to get their offense moving on the right track in order to fulfill their prophecy as league champs.

Panthers (-2.5) vs. Maulers

The potential for a Josh Love revenge game is too crucial to ignore. There’s also the reality that the Maulers have lost by fewer than seven points just once in their eight losses. I am picking the Fighting Jeff Fishers -2.5. 

Breakers (-3.5) vs. Gamblers

Just like Stallions-Bandits: Give me the team that has at least some reason to keep competing and better prepare themselves for the playoffs. I'm picking the Breakers -3.5.

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