As far-fetched as the notion of clinching the playoffs this soon may appear, there is a scenario where the Generals could be in a position to virtually secure a playoff berth when they take the field Sunday afternoon against the Houston Gamblers.
New Jersey Generals Playoff Berth Scenario
The 4-1 New Jersey Generals, even though the Birmingham Stallions remain unbeaten at 5-0, could become the first team in the new USFL to clinch a playoff berth.
The sooner than anticipated scenario is contingent upon the 1-4 Michigan Panthers and 1-4 Pittsburgh Maulers losing their respective games this weekend. The Panthers play the undefeated Stallions on Saturday night. The Maulers, coming off of their first victory of the season, take on the 3-2 New Orleans Breakers in the early Sunday afternoon game.
Supposing that Michigan loses, who is a 6.5-point underdog to Birmingham. And that Pittsburgh, a 7.5-point dog against New Orleans, goes back to their losing ways. It would drop both teams to 1-5, with only four weeks left to play in the regular season. And because only the top two teams can make the playoffs in each division, the likelihood of either one making the playoffs is not very probable.
Simply because of how the final three weeks of the schedule are structured, with all Northern teams playing each other. At 1-5, only one of the two teams, Michigan and Pittsburgh, could theoretically run the table to finish the season at 5-5 because both teams are guaranteed to lose another game when they play one another in week 10.
If both the Panthers and Maulers lose by the time, 4 pm ET/3 pm CT rolls around on Sunday. The Generals could be faced with the prospects of practically guaranteeing a playoff spot by besting the 1-4 Houston Gamblers.
A win on Sunday and a 5-1 record for the Generals, but more importantly, New Jersey’s current 3-0 divisional record could all but secure them their place in the playoffs. It won’t guarantee them the North title, regardless of what happens this Saturday afternoon between the 2-3 Philadelphia Stars and 3-2 Tampa Bay Bandits. But getting to five wins with four weeks left to play would put New Jersey firmly in the driver’s seat.
Even if the Generals’ were to falter and lose their remaining four games to fall to 5-5, they would still likely make the playoffs because of tie-breakers. The worst New Jersey can do within the North is a 3-3 division record. The Maulers are 0-3; the Panthers are 1-2.
The last thing New Jersey wants is to go into cruise control and back into the playoffs. But in the grand scheme of things, just getting into the playoffs is all that matters.
Winning the North would be a great feather in the Generals cap. But in a league of neutral site games, with no true home-field advantage. Just getting into the playoffs is all that matters. When the playoffs start late next month in Canton, Ohio, even the South leading Stallions’ will lose the home-field privilege they have had during the season playing all their games in Birmingham.
A Division crown might give you a psychological boost. But you won’t get the customary home game that division winners typically receive as a reward.
New Jersey Generals Week 6 News And Notes
First things first, the New Jersey Generals need to take care of business in Week 6. They are clicking on all cylinders riding a four-game winning streak. And it would be easy for them to come into Sunday’s game overconfident against the 1-4 Houston Gamblers. The Generals have to guard against a letdown. Houston has crushingly lost games, with two back-to-back last-second losses to New Orleans and the then winless Maulers.
The Gamblers are overdue for a lucky hand, and the Generals need to make sure that a victory isn’t in the cards for Houston this weekend.
New Jersey’s success in the first half of the season has put them in a prime position to play at least one playoff game in Canton, Ohio. They just need to seize the moment and take advantage of it this Sunday.
In case you missed it in the middle of the night earlier this week, the Generals added five new players to their team, thanks to the USFL expanding team rosters earlier in the week. New Jersey also released RB Peter Guerreiro and LB Tim Walton.
New acquisitions, QB Guy Myers, CB Darion Dunn, and LB Jalen Choice will start their Generals’ tenure on the inactive list. RB Kingston Davis has a shot to suit up on Sunday as the third runner behind Darius Victor and Trey Williams. DE Hercules Mata’afa could help give New Jersey’s pass rush a boost in Week 6.
The big news coming out of New Jersey’s most recent roster update is that linebacker Chris Orr has been transferred to the inactive roster due to sustaining a knee injury. Orr’s absence from the Generals’ lineup against the league’s leading rusher Mark Thompson on Sunday is a significant loss.