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New Orleans Breakers vs. Memphis Showboats Breakdown

108 days ago


It’s been a crazy season of action in the USFL through eight weeks. A year ago, the spring football  league had the unfortunate development of having all of its available playoff berths clinched after week nine.

12 months later, the reverse is true. Heading into week nine this season, the playoff picture is far from complete, even though it is clearer this time around. No teams have clinched or been mathematically eliminated as crunch time continues.

While the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader will not guarantee its winner a spot in the playoff field, they can improve on positioning for the No. 2 seed in the South Division. Memphis’ Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium is the ballpark for a critical showdown between two 5-3 teams.

Breakers Collide with Showboats on Saturday

The Liberty Bowl’s host stadium plays host to a contest that’s befitting of a bowl game. Quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson and the New Orleans Breakers (5-3) travel to Tennessee to meet Cole Kelley and the Memphis Showboats (5-3).

Kickoff for the back-end of the Saturday doubleheader is set for just past 3 pm ET/ 2 pm CT on NBC Sports. Immediately preceding the football game is the edited rerun of last Sunday’s TST: The Soccer Tournament championship match.

When Last They Met…

Much like the Michigan/Pittsburgh game in Canton on Saturday, the New Orleans/Memphis tilt is a rematch from the second weekend in May.  That afternoon, Memphis narrowly defeated New Orleans 17-10.

Showboats wide receiver Vinny Papale led the charge with six receptions for 62 yards. How will the rematch play out? Break it down!

Hot Day in Memphis on Saturday

As spring gives way to summer inside the United States, summer-like heat is expected for Memphis on Saturday. Current weather forecasts indicate that  it’ll be another hot day with high temperatures close to 90 degrees expected.

Southerly winds at 7 MPH are in the forecast with a slight chance of a pop-up shower or thunderstorm. Through eight weeks, the league has yet to suspend a game due to lightning in the area of an outdoor stadium. Will that streak end this weekend?

New Orleans Breakers vs. Memphis Showboats Betting Odds

As of Thursday evening, the oddsmakers  have the New Orleans vs. Memphis game as a pick-’em. The points spread is even, with both teams favored on the money line (-110).

Saturday’s over-under is set at 43 1/2 points. If you plan on betting on this or any other game in the USFL this weekend, please wager responsibly.

Breakers Need to Get Dixon Open

New Orleans wideout Johnnie Dixon had a terrific ballgame last Sunday. A former Ohio State Buckeye, he had his best effort of the season, catching nine passes from Bethel-Thompson for 136 yards and two touchdowns.

Whenever your wide receiver is able to eclipse the 100-yard plateau, more often than not, your team is coming away with the victory. He’s already matched his total touchdowns last year (4) with still two games left to play.

If New Orleans can get Dixon in the clear, he’ll find the end zone again. Memphis’ defense would be wise to double-cover or maybe even triple-cover him this week.

New Orleans D-Line Can Be Successful If They Pressure Kelley

Defensively, the Breakers sacked Michigan Panthers quarterback Josh Love four times last Sunday. As we’ve mentioned time and again this season in these breakdowns, four quarterback sacks will oftentimes equal a win for the defense.

While no individual player led New Orleans in sacks a week ago, Toledo alum Reggie Howard got into the act. The defensive back recorded one sack on the day, giving him 1 1/2 sacks on the season.

Counting his tenures with the then-Tampa Bay Bandits and the Breakers over the past two seasons, Howard has recorded 9 1/2 total sacks. Look for him to create pressure up front on Saturday afternoon.

Can Derrick Dillon Bust Loose Again?

While the Showboats’ receiving corps didn’t get too many headlines last week, thanks to running back Kerrith Whyte’s 102-yard performance, three wideouts finished with three receptions apiece, including Derrick Dillon. The LSU alumnus ended his day with 33 yards through the air versus New Jersey. 

In addition to his receiving numbers, Dillon returned four Generals kickoffs for 122 yards, This is a man who returned a missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown just a few short weeks ago.

It would behoove the Breakers to cover Derrick Dillon on Saturday. If they leave him any room to run, he can make them pay.

Look for Antonio Reed to Step in Front of a Bad Pass

On defense, the Showboats were buoyed by the play of safety Antonio ReedAn alum of the University of Nebraska, Reed notched five total tackles and picked off his first pass of the season in Canton.

This was the first interception of his professional football career. In order to find the last time he picked off a pass, you’d have to go back to his senior year for the Cornhuskers in 2018.

That particular year, he recorded two interceptions. Antonio Reed went more than four years without an INT prior to last week. Now that he’s got a pick on his stat sheet, can he get the confidence to grab another one?

Final Thoughts

This could be the best game of the season in the USFL. Consider the Breakers/Showboats tilt a playoff eliminator.

Prediction: New Orleans 35, Memphis 17.


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