Day two of Week 7 of the 2022 USFL campaign begins with the league's best team, taking on the league's worst team. The afternoon starts with the unbeaten Birmingham Stallions, going up against the last-place Pittsburgh Maulers.
Related: Week 7 Picks for Every USFL Game
The Stallions (6-0) continued their winning ways by demolishing Michigan last week, while the Maulers (1-5) showed a little more fight before falling to New Orleans. Birmingham looks to move closer to perfection, while Pittsburgh looks to pull off the impossible upset.
Birmingham (6-0) at Pittsburgh (1-5)
Kickoff: Sunday, May 29 at 2 p.m. ET
Where: Protective Stadium (Birmingham, Ala.)
Spread: Stallions -12.5
Three Things to Watch
1. All about the quarterbacks
Although Pittsburgh lost to New Orleans last week, quarterback Vad Lee put together another solid performance. He overcame two interceptions and a sack to complete 17-of-33 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh capped off a 10-play, 63-yard drive which took 3:03 to complete with a four-yard TD run by Lee. That score would pull the Maulers to within a touchdown with a little more than five minutes left to play.
But the Breakers would answer with a 10-play, 55-yard drive of their own that culminated with a field goal to stretch the lead back to 10, which was the final margin (26-16). Lee has now accounted for 388 total yards and four total touchdowns in just two games. He's been a difference-maker, even though it hasn't translated into any more wins yet. But if you needed any further evidence that this is Lee's team now, Pittsburgh released quarterback Kyle Lauletta earlier this week (he was claimed on waivers by New Jersey).
Lee's counterpart this week will be the Stallions' fearless leader, J'Mar Smith. Smith ranks in the USFL's top five in passing yards (920, fourth), completed passes (76, fifth), touchdown passes (8, third), and pass attempts (137, fourth). He's also fourth among quarterbacks in rushing yards (115), and second amongst signal-callers in rushing touchdowns (2). Having a strong rushing attack as support, dependable receivers, and a solid offensive line, is the combination that makes this Birmingham offense so dangerous. Expect to see some fireworks between these two dynamic QBs.
2. Stallions get it done on both sides of the ball
It's not hard to see why Birmingham is undefeated under head coach Skip Holtz. They live in the top half of the league leaderboard in pretty much every major offensive and defensive category. The Stallions are third in total offense (319.2 ypg), passing offense (182.8 ypg), and rushing offense (136.3 ypg) while scoring the most points (27.0 ppg). On defense, they are fourth overall (285.8 ypg), and third against both the run (110.0 ypg) and points allowed per game (18.2).
Individually, wide receiver Victor Bolden Jr. leads the league in all-purpose yards (967) and running back C.J. Marable is sixth in rushing (303 yds.). Linebacker DeMarquis Gates is No. 2 in sacks (5.0) and third with two forced fumbles. Running mate Lorenzo Burns has registered two interceptions on the season as well. Their consistency both offensively and defensively is the prime reason why the Stallions have yet to lose a game.
3. Upset on their minds
With the way that Lee has changed this Pittsburgh offense over the last two weeks, you can't blame the Maulers for aching to pull off the biggest upset of the year. Since they have virtually no shot at the playoffs, being able to ruin Birmingham's perfect season would be a nice consolation prize. If anything, the pressure is on the Stallions to stay perfect and not give second-place New Orleans any glimmer of hope of being able to steal the South Division title away.
While I admire Pittsburgh's aspirations, Birmingham has too much talent on both sides of the ball to contend with. Stallions easily improve to 7-0.
Prediction: Stallions 28, Maulers 14
— Written by Gabe Salgado, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He can also be heard on WGN Radio. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.