by Sam Panajotovic
FOX Sports Betting Analyst
We are all ready to open USFL Sunday’s championship game at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The The title game will be streamed live on FOX 7:30 p.m. Eastern time.
The match features two teams that aren’t quite as favourite given the odds of a pre-season tournament. As the first week approaches in mid-April, the Philadelphia Stars (+450The Birmingham Stallion+550(She had longer title odds on FOX Bet than the perceived favorite: Michigan Panthers)+333The Tampa Bay Thieves+425).
Michigan mistook its way to the record 2-8 and finished Tampa Bay 4-6.
So we’re here for all the balls. Birmingham comes into this game as a 4.5 favorite points Above Philadelphia at FOX Bet, with a Total O/U 45.5. The first thought that came to my mind was “under” 45.5 because this was not and was by no means a league full of offensive fireworks.
Take last week’s semi-final match between Birmingham and New Orleans. It took a 71-yard interception return touchdown and a 90-yard return touchdown kick to eek “over” 44.5 with a 31-17 final score.
Dealing with big mistakes on a long landing is a recipe for disaster.
“We are thrilled to be writing ‘Over’ money at the USFL major,” a Las Vegas bookmaker told FOX Sports. “These insults don’t scare me one bit, but the public loves to bet on ‘Over’ in championship matches.
“The real number would probably be closer to 42.5 or 43, but if we open that low, we’ll write it down to 44.5 or 45 anyway. So, it’s easier on our part to open it two points higher and see what happens from there.”
I expect Birmingham’s bread and butter – running the ball and playing a solid defense – to remain the same with the title on the goal line. The Stallions will look to create the league’s second-best attack (135.7 yards per game) to increase possession time and keep Philadelphia off the field.
Also, Birmingham’s defense is hard to break through, and this unit really comes close to being in a down streak shape. Over the last five games of the season, the Stallions allowed 17 points against New Orleans, 18 against Tampa Bay, 17 against Houston, nine against New Orleans, and 16 against Pittsburgh.
Philadelphia overcame the bottom three-pass attack and the four-bottom lunge attack by continuously creating fast points on the other side of the ball. Philly’s defense led the league with 13 interceptions, but remember, they face a team that has lost only once all season and hasn’t been neglected with pigskin.
It helps that the stars don’t slack off with the ball either. Philadelphia threw only seven interceptions in 10 regular season competitions. Superstars don’t have the offensive type that makes blunders, and their conservative nature should help keep this bad boy “under” the total as well.
I’d gladly bet against offense—and an extra 70 touchdown yards—in the opening USFL title game and put my money on those two defenses to keep the opponent out of the end zone.
This one has 20-17 written all over it.
Sammy’s choice: 45.5 points combined by both teams (-120 in FOX Bet)
Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and NESN. Previously he worked for WGN Radio, NBC Sports and VSiN. It is likely that he will choose against your favorite team. Follow him on Twitter @spshoot.
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