Birmingham Stallions vs. Pittsburgh Maulers Odds & Pick
Birmingham Stallions (6-0 SU, 6-0 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Maulers (1-5 SU, 2-4 ATS)
When: Sunday, May 29, 2 p.m.
Where: Protective Stadium, Birmingham, Ala.
Point Spread: BIR -12/PIT +12 (Bovada)
Total: O/U 41
The equation couldn’t be much more simple for the Stallions. Win here and get a loss by either Tampa Bay or New Orleans, and they’re in the USFL playoffs. There’s no home-field advantage in Year One of the USFL’s postseason, so a win over the woeful Maulers would allow the Stallions to either choose their first-round opponent (as they could decide whether or not to rest against either the Bandits or the Breakers) or simply get everyone healthy while letting their backups play out the last three weeks of the regular season.
That should protect against complacency, which might take any chance the Maulers have at an upset off the table. Pittsburgh has looked a bit better in its past two games, but the Maulers still have the worst offense this side of Michigan and can’t really stop anyone. Pittsburgh hasn’t held anyone under 20 points since Week 1 (a 17-3 loss to Tampa Bay), and that includes the Panthers, who scored 24 on them in Week 3 after scoring 18 in Weeks 1 and 2 combined. Even though the Maulers managed to beat Houston, they’re still the weakest team in the USFL in terms of talent, and they’re up against a Birmingham juggernaut with plenty to play for. With nobody else in the USFL having yet been able to stop the Stallions, it’s difficult to see Pittsburgh pulling it off here.
When Birmingham Has the Ball
It’s not so much what the Stallions do that makes them successful as it is what they don’t do: they don’t beat themselves. Birmingham’s numbers don’t jump off the page at anybody, with one exception: they’re tied for first in the league in turnover ratio at plus-5. The team they’re tied with is Houston, so that doesn’t guarantee success, but what does put Birmingham in a position to succeed is that its six giveaways are tied with Pittsburgh and New Jersey for the lowest in the league.
Put simply, this team doesn’t give away possessions. The Stallions almost always either score or flip the field, which means that if you don’t stop J’Mar Smith and friends, you’re going to have to step on the gas when you’ve got the ball. That’s even more true given the upgrade that the Stallions got at running back two weeks ago when former Crimson Tide running back Bo Scarborough joined the team and took C.J. Marable’s job by averaging 5.1 yards a carry in wins over Michigan and Philadelphia.
The Stallions have scored 63 points in the past two weeks, despite one of those games being against the team that had previously led the league in points allowed and yardage allowed (Michigan) before Birmingham torched the Panthers for 33 points and 332 yards. This team has been the class of the USFL since opening night, and it only seems to be getting better.
When Pittsburgh Has the Ball
For all the hype about Pittsburgh being a ground-and-pound team, the Maulers have actually had more luck throwing the football. But even that hasn’t been something they do well, as they’ve scored just seven offensive touchdowns in six weeks of action. Pittsburgh’s two rushing touchdowns are tied for dead last with Houston, but the Gamblers at least balance that out by leading the USFL in passing scores.
Not so with Pittsburgh, which has seen more passing touchdowns from off-the-street quarterback Vad Lee in the past two weeks than Kyle Lauletta and Josh Love combined to throw in the first four weeks. With Tre Walker and Bailey Gaither in the fold, Lee has real targets who represent two of the top five pass-catchers in the USFL. But the Maulers’ line hasn’t done a very good job, leaving its ground game going absolutely nowhere this season. Madre London has been serviceable, but the Maulers usually fall behind too fast to stick with it.
The strategy of betting the under blindly worked in the early going, but the over has now gone 8-0 in the past two weeks of USFL action. Last week, only one game out of four went under 50 points, and that game involved Pittsburgh’s woeful offense. The over is now 15-9 for the year and has gone 11-1 over the past three weeks, which makes this an ideal time to bet the over if Vegas hasn’t figured it out yet.
The favorites aren’t as separated as expected at this time of the season, as they went 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS last week. That’s fits well with the teams to this point in the season, as favorites are now 17-7 SU and 14-10 ATS on the year. Houston has really skewed that rating, though, as the Gamblers keep coming close but losing, giving them ATS wins as their record slides further from the postseason picture.
This is going to be a hot one in Birmingham, as temperatures are expected to hit 88 degrees on Sunday. Wind will blow at eight miles per hour toward the west, which won’t provide much relief for the players.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
The Maulers do still technically have a chance at the playoffs because they play in the weaker North Division, but even that looks pretty unlikely at best. Pittsburgh would need to run the table to have anything resembling a shot, and that seems like nothing more than a pipe dream, given that the defense still can’t really stop anyone.
I admit I’m worried about Birmingham allowing Pittsburgh to hang around in this one. But with the Stallions leading the USFL in sacks and Pittsburgh having a questionable offensive line, I can’t see the Maulers moving the ball well enough on Birmingham to stick close. I think 20 points should be enough for the Stallions to cover in this game, and I like their chances to get there. I’ll back Birmingham with the huge spread. Note: It’s a great day to take five minutes to save yourself thousands of dollars in wasted risk by making the switch to -105 odds at BetAnySports Sportsbook! Make the switch! You’ll be so glad you did!