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Pittsburgh Maulers vs. Michigan Panthers Breakdown

138 days ago

 

It’s Mother’s Day weekend. Hopefully, your mom is one who likes to watch spring football, because between the USFL and the XFL Championship Game, there are five games to watch.

Week five of the USFL season finds the league setting up shop in Birmingham and Detroit to close out the first half of its sophomore season. Saturday, just hours before the third incarnation of the XFL crowns its first champion, an afternoon of gridiron action begins from the USFL’s Detroit hub.

Ford Field, the home stadium of the NFL’s Detroit Lions, will open its doors to fans for the third weekend in a row, beginning with the first game of week five. Just as was the case these last two weeks, home cooking is on the menu.

Maulers vs. Panthers Begins Week Five Saturday Afternoon

The Pittsburgh Maulers (1-3) will seek to rebound from last Sunday night’s loss to the Birmingham Stallions (3-1) in the Canton hub when they take on the Michigan Panthers (2-2). The Panthers also enter this weekend coming off of a loss.

Last Saturday night, the previously-winless Memphis Showboats (1-3) sent the Panthers to their second consecutive defeat in primetime on NBC. Kickoff of the first game of the afternoon is set for just past 12:30 pm ET/ 11:30 am CT on USA Network.

As has been the case with all NBCUniversal-aired games this season in the USFL, Pittsburgh/Michigan will be streamed on Peacock. USA’s coverage of the USFL will again be preceded by footy from the Premier League.

Fair Weather Expected for Tailgate Parties in Detroit

With Ford Field being a domed stadium, there are no weather concerns that exist for the ballgames themselves. Thankfully, there aren’t any worries for anybody with tickets to Saturday’s game.

It’ll be a nice morning for a tailgate party, as well. Current weather forecasts suggest that there will be minimal chances of rain with sunny skies later on in the day.

High temperatures are expected to top out in the mid-70s, but you’ll need a light jacket to go tailgating. Morning temperatures will be near 70 degrees.

Pittsburgh Maulers vs. Michigan Panthers Betting Odds

As of Thursday afternoon, the oddsmakers have the Michigan Panthers installed as a – 3-1/2 point favorite on the spread and a -189 favorite on the money line, while the Pittsburgh Maulers counter as a +145 underdog on the money line. The over/under for this game is set a 41 1/2 points.

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

Can Maulers Put it All Together Again?

Two weeks ago, when the Maulers played the Philadelphia Stars in Detroit, Pittsburgh looked as though they had the chance at contending for a championship. For a while last Sunday against the Birmingham Stallions, the team managed to hold its own.

Unfortunately for Maulers fans, everything crumbled late in the contest when wide receiver Deon Cain, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles, torched Pittsburgh to the tune of 91 yards on a kickoff return touchdown. This proved to be the separation that the Stallions needed for a 24-20 win.

Although the Maulers played the defending champions close a week ago, they’ve got to finish the job. It starts with getting wideout Bailey Gaither into the end zone.

Even though the former San Jose State product led the charge with six receptions for 69 yards, he had no touchdowns. In a 10-week regular season, finishing drives in the end zone is paramount.

Pittsburgh went 0-for-3 inside the Birmingham 20-yard line last Sunday. They’ll need to close out drives with sixes and sevens on the scoreboard rather than threes. There isn’t any room for error.

Tezino Next Man Up on Defense for Maulers

Last week, the Maulers’ pregame injury report contained bad news for anybody tuning into FS1 expecting to see star linebacker Reuben Foster in the starting lineup for Pittsburgh. The USFL Defensive Player of the Week for the third weekend of the season was kept out of the ballgame due to a left knee injury.

Knee injuries have been cruel to Foster in the past. In 2019, while a member of the Washington Commanders, he suffered an injury to the same left knee, tearing his ACL, LCL and MCL during OTAs. It ended his season and he never played in the NFL again.

In Foster’s stead,  fellow linebacker Kyahva Tezino, who’s in his second season with the Maulers, had a solid evening, notching 11 tackles. It’s never easy to try and replace a talented guy like Reuben Foster, but Tezino thrived last week.

Look for him to cause havoc on the defensive line again this Sunday.

Panthers Looking to Reverse Trend

What happened to the Michigan Panthers? It’s a fair enough question to ask now. Michigan began the season with high hopes and led the North Division in the USFL with a 2-0 record.

Fast-forward two weeks later and it now seems that Panthers fans are watching reruns from last season. Under the primetime spotlight last Saturday after the Kentucky Derby on NBC, Michigan fell flat, losing 29-10 and giving Memphis its first win of 2023.

Panthers halfback Stevie Scott, an alumnus of Indiana University, has shared the rushing duties with Reggie Corbin of late. Every good football team needs a bruiser at running back.

Michigan’s got two bruising tailbacks. If either of them get to the open field, all the Maulers’ defense can do is wave goodbye.

Where Was Michigan’s Defense Last Week?

The Michigan Panthers defense looked like they took the day off last Saturday at home. Michigan only registered one quarterback sack of Memphis quarterback Cole Kelley.

Thankfully, the Panthers have a solution to help them get back to pressuring the quarterback. Defensive end Breeland Speaks has been Michigan’s stalwart on the D-line so far this year, recording four sacks.

When Speaks lines up, this man only has one mission: Seek and destroy. If he creates pressure up front, it’s game on.

Final Thoughts

Do or die time has arrived ahead of schedule for both Michigan and Pittsburgh. While no one in the USFL has been mathematically eliminated from contention as yet, these two teams have to treat Saturday’s contest as though it’s a playoff game.

Prediction: Michigan 31, Pittsburgh 20.

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