2022 USFL Playoffs Primer

by Mark Strausberg
2022 USFL Playoffs

This 2022 USFL Playoffs Primer will likely be my last USFL article of the season. As they say, all good things must come to an end.

Of course my picks last week were not so good. However,  I did give you plenty of warning last week, saying, "...if there was a week to pull back on your USFL expenditures, this is it". I am hoping you did so. Even if this wasn't a first-year league, knowing how teams would handle their final game despite all playoff seeds being locked was a Herculean task.

The good news is that we know all four teams won't pull any punches this week and are looking to advance to the championship game. I remind you that all three playoff games will be played in Canton by the Football Hall of Fame. It will be interesting to see what fanbases travel to those games. However, one thing for sure is we know that Birmingham will not have that dominant "home field advantage" they had much of the season. Will that change the likely income? We will get to that.

But before we get to this week's game, I want to thank those of you who have been reading all season. I've had fun writing this article every week, I hope you have enjoyed reading it every week. Presuming there is a USFL season next year (and unlike some other recent start-up leagues, the indications are that there, fortunately, will be a second season), please don't hesitate to let me know what you liked, didn't like, and/or anything additional you would want to see next season.

For now, however, my 2022 USFL Playoffs Primer will look like previous weeks.

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2022 USFL Playoffs Primer

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USFL Playoffs Betting Thoughts

One of the things I really like about these USFL Playoffs is that I do believe the four best teams are the ones who made the playoffs. However, it does make things a little tougher to handicap because no result would surprise me. However, I am going to call my shot: the Generals beat the Stallions by less than a TD in the championship.

For that to happen, a few other things have to happen first. Here is my four-leg parlay (+700) for this weekend:

  • New Jersey Generals/Philadelphia Stars OVER 47.5 (-110)
  • Birmingham Stallions/New Orleans Breakers OVER 44.5 (-110)
  • Generals Moneyline (-205)
  • Birmingham Stallions (-210)

Let's look at both games.

New Jersey Generals vs Philadelphia Stars

These two teams played last and combined for a 26-23 score. In their rematch this week, I also see them hitting close to 50 points combined. The Generals are ranked first in offensive efficiency and have scored the third-most points. The Generals have the best conversion rate on both third and fourth down. They turned the ball over less than once a game.  I wouldn't be surprised to see them put up 30 points or more against a Stars defense that has allowed 243 points this year, tied for highest in the league.

However, the Stars offense is one of the best in the league as well. The Stars topped the league in points at 262 points, nearly thirty points more than the next closest team, the Stallions. The Generals only have ten sacks this year and the Stars offensive line is one of the best in the league. The Stars OL should give quarterback Case Cookus plenty of time in the pocket, allowing Philadelphia to score their share of points. The OVER has hit in seven of Philadelphia's ten games this season.

I love the OVER in this game, but in the end, I think New Jersey is just too strong on both sides of the ball, and the Generals should advance to the championship game.

Birmingham Stallions vs New Orleans Breakers

The Stallions are a very good team but have failed to cover the last four weeks. As mentioned above, they have the second-most points in the league. But I also like New Orleans to put up its share of points, as they are third in passing yards per game. The Breakers are also fourth in rushing yards per game, led by the league's leading rusher, Jordan Ellis.

The temptation here might be to take the under however as both these defenses are pretty good. However, the two teams' quarterbacks are second and third in passing yards. Three of the league's top five receivers come from these two teams and the Breaker's TE, Sal Canella, is sixth in receptions.

I'd probably take the Breakers, especially with the points, but the Breakers' tendency to turn it over scares me. They have more giveaways than any other playoff team and had the second-most in the league. I think we see the Stallions return to mid-season form and a key turnover is a difference in this game.

2022 USFL Semi-final Week DFS Picks

Quarterback: J'Mar Smith, Birmingham Stallions ($10,200)

Kyle Sloter is questionable, New Jersey still is splitting reps between Luis Perez and De'Andre Johnson, and Case Cookus is extremely expensive at $11K. Smith is third in the league in passing touchdowns and has a QBR of over 118.  His stats probably would have been even more impressive but with the Stallions clinching the top seed, they gave Birmingham back-up quarterback Alex McGough a lions-share of the snaps the last couple of weeks. The bottom line, Smith is good.

Running Back: Jordan Ellis, New Orleans Breakers ($9,600)

For the Breakers to slow down the Stallions' offense, they are going to have to keep them off the field. A great way to do that is by running the ball and eating up lots of clock. I've already told you how good Ellis is. He's an obvious pick this week.

Wide Receiver/Tight End: Marlon Williams, Birmingham Stallions ($7,600)

First off, if you are going with J'Mar Smith like I am, you are definitely going to want to stack him with at least one of his receivers, if not multiple options. But what I like about Williams is that is he less expensive than some of the other Birmingham options, but has come on as of late. He's averaging 15 DKFPs over the last three weeks and has seen over 30 targets during that time.

Defense/Special Teams (DST): Birmingham Stallions ($5,300)

I really like the way the Philadelphia and New Jersey offenses are clicking, but New Orleans? Not so much. Stallions are in the top half of the league in both fumble recoveries and INTs. More importantly, they top the league in sacks. I'm taking the Stallions.

Flex Options

In addition to the aforementioned Sal Canella ($5200), I'm going with another TE this week in my Flex spot that my loyal readers could have guessed. That's right, Bug Howard ($4300)! He's been strong all season, but is coming off his best game yet, having caught five of six passes for 101 yards! Still a decent bargain, in a game I expect to be a shoot-out, he's a strong play. Looking for another cheap play? Consider Stallions WR Adrian Hardy ($3700). He has two TDs over the last three weeks and is giving Stallions QBs another weapon:

On the more expensive side, you have to like New Jersey WR Kavontae Turpin ($10,600) and RB Darius Victor ($9,800) if you can afford them, as both are averaging more than 14 DKFPs a game. Just slightly cheaper is Stallions RB Bo Scarbrough ($8200) who has been an absolute beast. I also like WR Johnnie Dixon ($9400) who has a decent floor.

So, that will do it for me and the 2022 USFL Playoffs Primer. Enjoy the playoffs and good luck!

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