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Generals Marching Towards First Place Showdown With The Stars

The Generals (1-1) and Stars (1-1) will close out week 3 in the USFL this coming Sunday night. The first-place showdown between New Jersey and Philadelphia will air on the Peacock network at 8 pm ET.

Currently, the oddsmakers have the Philadelphia Stars as 1.5-point favorites heading into this contest.

High Stakes For The Generals

It’s way too early to claim a king in the North. But the winner of Sunday’s game will have an early advantage with only seven weeks left in the regular season.

Philadelphia and New Jersey are coming off of divisional victories last week. And as a result, the team that comes out on top this weekend between them will not only take sole possession of the North but will have a two-game lead on every team in the division because of tiebreakers.

The four teams in the Northern Division are amidst a three-week stretch of playing one another. The winless Panthers and Maulers will square off this Saturday; both teams will be attempting to keep their heads above water and stay in the race.

By the time the smoke clears in Week 4. Half of the divisional games will have been played. The North will then close out the last three weeks of the season, squaring off against each other again.

Because the top two teams in each USFL division qualify for the playoffs, each of the divisional games taking place now takes on added importance.

The Generals and Stars will not play each other again until the final week of the regular season.

Looking Towards The Stars

Before the USFL season commenced, many followers of alternative pro football leagues were bullish on the Stars’ chances of being a legitimate playoff contender. Mainly because of the built-in working relationship of two former Generals in the Spring League, Philly head coach Bart Andrus and quarterback Bryan Scott.

BIRMINGHAM, AL – APRIL 16: Philadelphia Stars head coach Bart Andrus and Philadelphia Stars quarterback Bryan Scott (18) are introduced as part of pregame festivities before the inaugural USFL game between the New Jersey Generals and Birmingham Stallions on April 16, 2022, at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, AL. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Thus far, the HC/QB tandem of Andrus and Scott has kept up their successful ways after winning the TSL championship together in the fall of 2020.

In a league where newness rules the day, and all eight teams are still going through growing pains, with most coaches and players working with each other for the first time. The shared experiences of Andrus and Scott have given the Stars a decided advantage over everyone else in the USFL.

Generals-Stars Styles Clash

Despite sharing the same record, the Generals and Stars couldn’t be further apart stylistically.

New Jersey, to a fault, has played a conservative ball control-styled offense, and Philadelphia has been shooting for the sky with an aggressive pass-heavy attack.

A week ago, it was as if Mike Riley’s Generals and Jeff Fisher’s Panthers were mirror images of one another. The Week 3 divisional contest between Philly and Jersey is a legitimate clash of styles.

New Jersey’s defense bounced back in a big way, smothering the Panthers’ offense last week. But the Stars present a different challenge than Michigan presented last Friday night.

The Generals’ secondary will be tested this coming Sunday. Dravon Askew-Henry, De’Vante Bausby, and Shalom Luani have been standouts in the early season. However, they will need to bring their A-game again in Week 3 to slow down Philly’s explosive pass game.

Pass protection is the one aspect where the Stars have struggled this season on offense.

Perhaps, it’s the trade-off of being an aggressive passing team. But Philly has surrendered ten sacks in their first two games. Bryan Scott was fortunate to make out of both games without a long-term injury. The young signal-caller has shown his toughness, taking some big-time hits in the pocket. But he was noticeably banged up towards the tail end of the Pittsburgh game. The Generals’ pass rush will need to apply the same pressure they exhibited a week ago against Michigan.

The Stars’ defense has also had its fair share of issues. They have given up the third-most points league. (46), just behind Birmingham at 52 and the Maulers at 47. Last week, Philadelphia’s defense gave up 348 yards of offense to a Pittsburgh team, who struggled mightily in week one to move the football and score points.

Mike Riley and offensive coordinator Steve Smith would love to avoid a shootout with Philly. And although this game could call for opening things up offensively, the Generals could be looking to capitalize on the fact that the Stars’ rush defense has given up nearly 300 yards on the ground in two games. Keeping Philly’s high-scoring offense off the field might be New Jersey’s strategy.

Generals Add A New RB?

The New Jersey Generals haven’t made this signing official as of press time. But former Monmouth superstar RB Peter Guerriero went on social media on Tuesday to announce that he was getting an opportunity to represent Jersey again with the Generals in the USFL.

‘Petey The Jet’ has spent time on and off the rosters of three different NFL teams, the Steelers, Panthers, and fittingly enough, the New York Jets, since 2020.

Before joining the football team, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Lyndhurst, New Jersey native, Guerriero, attended Monmouth on a track scholarship. With the Hawks, he rushed for 900 yards or more in all three seasons as a contributor, including a 1,995-yard campaign as a redshirt junior in 2019 that set a school record. Guerriero was an FCS All-American and FCS Running Back of the Year.

A week ago, the Generals’ top draft selection at RB, Mike Weber, was released to make room for veteran TE Wes Saxton. After New Jersey was dealing with a slew of injuries on their roster. Weber, the former Ohio State standout and Dallas Cowboys draft pick, was unable to shake a knee injury or overcome the numbers game on the smaller USFL rosters.

Clocked at his 2020 pro day at 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash, Guerriero’s speed allowed him to break several runs of 20 yards or longer in college. 

The speedy Guerriero could bring a different dimension to New Jersey’s ground attack, which has seen bulldozing runner Darius Victor take the lead in the backfield. Depending on where things shake out with injuries, ‘the Jet’ could be flying into action as soon as this Sunday against the Stars.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. 4th&long

    April 27, 2022 at 3:50 pm

    Nice article Mike. I intend to be watching – still wish this was on real TV with the 2 big cities but Peacock it is. Should be a good game.

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