Now just days away from the planned April 16 launch date, excitement levels are definitely beginning to peak as the final preparations for the inaugural matches in the United States Football League (USFL) get under way.
With majority backing from Fox and a number of other key players in the sports broadcasting world, the USFL has been turning heads in the sports world ever since it was officially announced in June 2021.
And although some of the final details for the historic opening week are still under wraps, this has not stopped interested sports fans already making USFL championship predictions and odds. In fact, with so much still unknown about the league, the teams and the players themselves, there has never been a better time to lock in those early odds!
USFL format and structure
In terms of what you need to know about the format the USFL will follow, there will be eight teams in the championship, which will be split into North and South divisions. Each of these teams will play each other in a 10-game schedule. Teams in the same division will play each other twice, while also playing teams in the other division once.
The top teams in the North and South divisions will then play against each other in semifinal games. This will be followed a week later by the final game to decide the season’s championship winner.
The North USFL division will be made up of the following four teams: Pittsburgh Maulers, Philadelphia Stars, New Jersey Generals and the Michigan Panthers, while the South USFL division will feature the Tampa Bay Bandits, New Orleans Breakers, Houston Gamblers and Birmingham Stallions competing for top honors.
Team structures will look roughly similar to the NFL setup. Each USFL team has an active roster of 38 men and a seven-man practice squad, who have already been decided on at player selection meetings that were held earlier this year, in February. These positions were filled up by a draft selection process.
USFL inaugural season
The inaugural 2022 USFL season will begin April 16 and is scheduled to run all the way through to mid-June. This will be followed by the playoffs for the championship games.
The opening April 16 game will see the New Jersey Generals pitted against the Birmingham Stallions. Interestingly, the game will be simultaneously broadcast on Fox Sports and NBC. This makes it the first football game to be broadcast on competing networks since Super Bowl I in 1967, which adds to its historical significance.
Opening week predictions
Although we do not have much historical data on any of the USFL teams to work with, this has not stopped online sportsbooks making predictions for how the opening games might play out.
The opening match for the New Jersey Generals and the Birmingham Stallions has already been earmarked as a victory for the Stallions.
Following this, the Houston Gamblers will face off against the Michigan Panthers, with the Panthers predicted to secure an opening win. The Philadelphia Stars are predicted to beat out the New Orleans Breakers, with the Tampa Bay Bandits also already identified as potential victors in their matchup – although not by quite the same margin as the Stars.
Betting on USFL opening week: how to choose?
Given the lack of win histories or previous data, making predictions for how these opening games will play proves to be quite tricky. However, there are a number of general considerations you can keep in mind.
One of these is to side with whichever team has the more experienced coach, with a particular preference for those who have offensive coaching styles. Offensive-minded coaches with track records of successfully running strong offensive strategies have tended to do well in the XFL and the AAF.
Turning this logic towards the USFL, Todd Haley of the Tampa Bay Bandits and Larry Fedora of the New Orleans Breakers both look to be strong contenders.
Another good strategy when trying to predict a USFL winner is to look out for strong quarterbacks. While this is also true of more established leagues such as the NFL, a strong quarterback will prove even more pivotal where the teams they have to work with might vary in skill and experience levels.
Look out for quarterbacks who have solid accuracy rates, but also those players who tend to be more active than others when necessary.