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New Jersey Generals vs. Pittsburgh Maulers Breakdown

This Sunday afternoon, the third of the four hub stadiums opens up its doors to football fans for the USFL season. Canton, OH will play host to both games on Sunday after Birmingham’s Protective Stadium held Saturday’s games.


Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, the host venue of the annual Hall of Fame Game in the NFL, sees both of its hub tenants in action versus one another in matinee action on NBC Sports. Live coverage begins at 1 pm ET/ noon CT on your local NBC station.

New Jersey Faces Pittsburgh in Week Two Sunday Afternoon

As is customary with USFL games aired on an NBCUniversal-owned linear platform, Sunday’s game will air on Peacock. Two teams that lost last weekend enter week two in an attempt to get into the win column.

The New Jersey Generals (0-1) travel to the Canton hub to play the other host team in Northeastern Ohio, the Pittsburgh Maulers (0-1). It’s also expected to be the chilliest day in the weather department that the USFL has had so far this season.

Cool Weather is Expected on Sunday in Canton

A cold front is expected to pass through Akron/Canton early Saturday, leading to crisp temperatures. It’ll definitely be jacket weather for those spectators with tickets to the Sunday doubleheader.

WKYC in Cleveland is forecasting a slight chance of rain with a cold high temperature of 49 degrees. Every tackle will have an extra sting going along with it on Sunday.

Schedule Note: Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium will also hold Sunday night’s Michigan Panthers/ Philadelphia Stars contest. Although both teams’ hub stadium is Detroit’s Ford Field, that venue is unavailable for football this weekend due to a concert from country music artist Luke Combs on Saturday night.

New Jersey Generals vs. Pittsburgh Maulers Betting Odds

As of Friday afternoon, the oddsmakers have the New Jersey Generals installed as a -5-point favorite and a -227 favorite on the money line. The Pittsburgh Maulers are a +170 underdog on the money line, with the over/under set at 36 1/2 points.

If you plan on betting on this or any other game happening over the weekend, please wager responsibly.

Maulers Eager to Rebound on Sunday

A week ago, the Maulers played it close against the New Orleans Breakers last Sunday night in Birmingham, one issue that plagued them is their play inside the red zone. Pittsburgh was shut out inside New Orleans’ 20-yard line, including a turnover on downs on the Breakers’ 1-yard line.

Head coach Ray Horton used his media availability this week on this very issue.

“When you are four downs inside the 1, you have to produce. You just do,” Horton began. “And when you are kicking from inside the 25, you got to produce. Those were the plays we left on the table that we had to make if we want to win.”

There are two keys to victory this week for Pittsburgh. First and foremost, they’ve got to be able to cash in when they get inside the red zone. If the Maulers fail to convert within New Jersey’s 20-yard line, their odds of winning the ballgame decrease exponentially. Secondly, they’ll need to create opportunities on the defensive line.

Pittsburgh Has to Apply Defensive Pressure

A week ago, the Maulers appeared to be getting out of the doldrums that plagued them last season, recording four sacks against a very tough McLeod Bethel-Thompson of New Orleans. Ordinarily, in a football game, any time that an opposing defense can sack a quarterback on at least four occasions, that team is usually able to win.

In this case, however, despite a fumble recovery in the end zone for a Pittsburgh touchdown by linebacker Kyahva Tezino during the second corner, they were doomed by Bethel-Thompson’s 302-yard performance in a 22-15 defeat. They’ll have to be more aggressive on defense if they are to win this Sunday.

Luckily for the Maulers, the Generals encountered troubles last week.

New Jersey Also Aiming For First Victory

A week ago Saturday night, the New Jersey Generals trekked down south to Birmingham where the Stallions’ defense only conceded 10 points to send the visiting team packing. Despite a season-ending finger injury to Birmingham starting quarterback J’Mar Smith, backup QB Alex McGough came onto ensure that the Stallions would win.

Even though the first game of a season doesn’t necessarily define the year, Generals head coach Mike Riley, the 2022 USFL Coach of the Year, wants to clean up the issues that proved troublesome in week one.

“Obviously, we have a lot of inconsistency,” Riley mentioned to The Canton Repository. “We particularly showed it in the red zone where we had some chances to score points and we did not. It made a difference in how the game played out.”

A Common Bond

It was Three Days Grace that sang Misery Loves My Company a decade ago. Much like Pittsburgh, New Jersey also had red zone woes that they seek to correct this coming week. Out of four total red zone trips, the Generals only managed to score once inside the Stallions’ 20-yard line.

When an offense gets close to their opponent’s end zone, they have to come away with points, especially touchdowns. A 1-for-4 day in the red zone isn’t going to get the job done, especially not in a 10-week regular season.

The bottom line: When the Generals cross Pittsburgh’s 20-yard line, their offense has to come up with big plays. Period. Hard stop.

Plays that set up a trip to the red zone will prove immaterial in the long run if the Generals bog down once they get there. Otherwise, it’ll be an uphill battle for New Jersey if they are to get back to the postseason in June.

Final Thoughts

Given that the USFL only has a 10-week season, this is a must-win ballgame for both teams. An 0-2 start for the loser of Sunday’s contest would get them behind the eight-ball and room for error is about to leave the chat.

As of late Friday, the stakes are even higher. WWE Superstar Roman Reigns has offered a WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt to the coaches.


Prediction: Pittsburgh 27, New Jersey 14.

Featured Image Credit: Getty Images

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