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Michigan Panthers vs. Pittsburgh Maulers Breakdown

108 days ago


Heading into week nine of the USFL’s sophomore seasonthe playoff picture has remained unchanged, although the clinching scenarios have gotten clearer. As per the playoff pictureno team has booked a spot in the playoffs, and nobody’s mathematically eliminated.

This is the scenario that the USFL and its television partners (as well as its fans, by extension) have been rooting for internally. All playoff berths are still available with two weeks left to go in the regular season.

In addition, every team in the league is sporting a 2-2 record against divisional foes. What’s perhaps the most impressive statistic of all here is the fact that no team in the league’s South Division will finish with a record below .500.

All this means is that the stretch run of the season looks to be an entertaining one. It starts Saturday with a North Division battle matching a team in line to secure a playoff berth against a squad on the outside looking in.

Panthers Battle Maulers to Begin Week Nine

The ninth week of the USFL’s regular season begins in its Ohio hub as Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium hosts a crucial contest. Mike Nolan’s Michigan Panthers (3-5) can get in the postseason with a victory against Ray Horton’s Pittsburgh Maulers (2-6), coupled with a Philadelphia Stars win on Sunday night against the New Jersey Generals. 

Michigan is one of three teams in the league eligible to clinch a playoff spot this week. Live coverage of the ballgame begins at noon ET/ 11 am CT on FOX Sports. 

Immediately following the game, FOX presents the 2023 Belmont StakesIt’s the network’s first time airing the Triple Crown race.

Great Weather Expected for Panthers/ Maulers

Air quality has been a chief concern throughout much of the week in the eastern half of the country as smoke from wildfires in Quebec has made it unsafe to be outdoors. While air quality advisories were in place in Northeast Ohio, there are no weather worries for Saturday afternoon.

Current forecasts indicate that it’ll be a partly cloudy day on Saturday with high temperatures topping out at 81 degrees. A slight west-southwest breeze is expected at 9 MPH with minimal rain chances.

Michigan Panthers vs. Pittsburgh Maulers Betting Odds

As of Thursday afternoon, the oddsmakers have the Michigan Panthers installed as a -1 1/2-point favorite on the spread and a -125 favorite on the money line. Pittsburgh counters as a +100 underdog on the money line.

The over-under for Saturday’s game is set at exactly 41 points. If you plan on betting on this or any other game happening in the USFL this weekend, please wager responsibly.

When Last They Met…

Saturday’s Panthers/Maulers game is the second head-to-head contest between the teams this season. Back on May 13,Pittsburgh bested Michigan 23-7. Maulers quarterback Troy Williams went 15-for-19 for 184 yards and two touchdowns in the win.

How will the rematch play out? Let’s break this one down.

Maulers Have to Feed Madre London

Although the Maulers came up one point short last Saturday afternoon versus the Houston Gamblers, halfback Madre London, a Michigan State product, finished the day leading the charge on the ground with 41 yards on eight carries for Pittsburgh.

London has featured in every game of the season for the Maulers, but he’s been kept out of the end zone all year long. To find the last (and only) time that London scored a touchdown for Pittsburgh, you’d need to go back to week seven of last season against Birmingham. 

Aside from that run to the goal line more than a year ago, Madre London has been kept out of the end zone. This is a man who took MVP honors in the European League of Football with the Cologne Centurions two years ago, scoring 23 touchdowns along with almost 2,200 rushing yards.

All he needs is one lane. If you give Madre London just a little bit of daylight, he’ll leave opposing defenses in the dust.

Look for Arnold Tarpley to Cause Havoc

Last week, the Maulers’ defensive line was bolstered by the play of linebacker Arnold Tarpley. An alum of Vanderbilt, Tarpley is in his second season with the Pittsburgh organization.

He notched six total tackles (five solo) against Houston, but Tarpley’s also known to be a ballhawk when the time comes. Thus far, he’s picked off two passes, most recently two weeks ago.

Tarpley has shown to be an aggressor up front. If he creates pressure on the line, he’ll have a great day.

Michigan Has to Target Joe Walker

Even though Panthers wideout Joe Walker was held scoreless last week vs. New Orleans, he caught five passes for 58 yards. The onetime Delaware Blue Hen has been a cog in the Michigan offense of late, having caught at least four passes in four of their last five games.

Since joining the Panthers ahead of the USFL’s reboot season last year, he’s scored six touchdowns through the air. With crunch time in full effect for Michigan and the league, Walker is going to be quarterback Josh Love’s primary target on Saturday.

Look for him to catch at least six passes for 75 yards this week. All Michigan has to do is get Joe Walker open.

Frank “The Tank” is Close to the Defensive Player of the Year Award

If the USFL season were to end today, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind as to who’d win the league’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. Why wouldn’t Michigan linebacker Frank Ginda be the guy to win the award?

Frank “The Tank” has already secured the USFL Defensive Player of the Week honors three times this season, including last Monday. Although the Panthers  went down in defeat on Sunday, Ginda returned an interception 22 yards alongside 11 total tackles (eight solo.)

The race for USFL Defensive Player of the Year is over. Frank Ginda has this one all but wrapped up. He’ll be a nuisance up front this week.

Final Thoughts

With every squad in the league still in contention, all the games should be fun ones. Get up early for this one if you’re out west on Saturday morning.

Prediction: Michigan 34, Pittsburgh 17.



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