On Monday, the USFL released game schedules for all eight teams in the league. Each team will play ten regular-season games and follow a similar format to the NFL. Divisional opponents will be played twice, while non-divisional opponents will be played once. For the Tampa Bay Bandits, six of their ten games will be split between three teams: the Birmingham Stallions, New Orleans Breakers, and Houston Gamblers. All four squads combine to create the South Division, and some interesting rivalries could develop as the season goes on.
Two matchups that stand out the most for Tampa are against the Breakers, taking place in week 2 and week 9. Both will get a taste of each other at two different points in the season, and to make things even more interesting, these two fanbases/cities already have a deep history. The Buccaneers and Saints have been competing in the NFC South since 2002, and although it may not be the most heated rivalry in the NFL, both teams have had their share of up-and-down seasons. Will this power struggle continue into the USFL? Only time will give us that answer, but regardless, there will be very talented players on either side of the ball.
Another set of intriguing matchups would be against the Birmingham Stallions (week 4 and week 10). With all games being played in Birmingham through a bubble format this year, the Stallions get home-field advantage every week, already making them a contender before kickoff. This is also the opponent Tampa gets to close out the regular season against, and depending on the standings, a playoff berth could be on the line for either squad. It’s safe to say that a Bandits-Stallions showdown could become an all-time classic that keeps audiences engaged, which would help the USFL maintain a high entertainment standard.
All in all, it’s hard to create predictions for a league entering year one of operations. However, there’s one breakthrough the USFL has a chance at making, which would be to complete a full season of spring football. The AAF suspended operations after eight weeks due to financial problems, and the XFL suspended operations after five weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On paper, the USFL shouldn’t have much trouble achieving this, but previous endeavors have yet to succeed. Fans should approach the situation with cautious optimism, and enjoy every game they get to watch.