The 2-2 New Jersey Generals are marching toward the midway point of the USFL 2023 Regular Season. Mike Riley’s troops stand atop the USFL North as they enter Week Five. However, it’s by a slim margin over the equally 2-2 Michigan Panthers.
USFL 2023 North Standings
After four weeks of play in the 2023 regular season, only one game separates every team in the North division. In Week 5, the Generals, who are 2-0 thus far in divisional play, will square off with the struggling 1-3 Philadelphia Stars. A team that knocked New Jersey off their Northern perch and out of the playoffs in 2022.
USFL 2023 Week 5 Preview: New Jersey Generals (2-2) vs. Philadelphia Stars (1-3), Sunday, May 14th, Noon ET, Ford Field, NBC/Peacock
The end of the 2022 season for the Generals was bitter, an all too familiar feeling for New Jersey if you track the playoff history between them and their rival.
The Stars and Generals faced each other in the postseason in 1984 and 1985. The Stars won both matchups on their way to back-to-back championships. Nearly forty years later, the Generals saw history repeated in the revived USFL last June.
On Sunday, New Jersey has a chance to exact a measure of revenge against Philly. The Generals not only have an opportunity to remain defeated within the North Division this season, but they can also create distance from their Northern foes and, in turn, dim the light on the Stars’ playoff hopes in 2023.
A loss, however, by the Generals would give the Stars new life in a season that started with great hopes for Philly but has been fading fast.
USFL 2023: New Jersey Generals @ Philadelphia Stars Week 5 Odds (Per FOXBet)
Point spread: Generals -6.5 (Generals favored to win by more than 6.5 points; otherwise, Stars cover)
Moneyline: Generals-278 favorites to win (bet $10 to win $13.60 total); Stars +205 underdogs to win (bet $10 to win $30.50 total)
Total scoring over/under: 43.5 points scored by both teams combined
New Jersey Generals @ Philadelphia Stars Week 5 Depth Charts/Injury Updates
Quick statistical overview
Generals Running back Darius Victor ranks top-five in the league in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, while linebacker Chris Orr leads the USFL in total tackles (41). New Jersey ranks first in rushing yards per game (169.8) and has the top-scoring defense in the USFL, allowing a league-low 63 points this season.
Quarterback Case Cookus is second in the league in passing yards (922) and fourth in passing touchdowns. Former 2016 NFL first-round pick Corey Coleman ranks in the top five in both receiving yards (238) and receptions (21). Fellow wide receiver Devin Gray ranks right behind Coleman in receiving yards (227) and is second overall in receptions (25).
Keys To A New Jersey Generals Victory In Week 5
To no one’s surprise, the Generals are again leading the USFL in rush yards per game. (169.3) New Jersey’s top-tier three-headed rushing attack was back in business last week against New Orleans, as Trey Williams returned to his 2022 form, rushing for 70 yards and a score.
The Stars will get a heavy dose of quarterback DeAndre Johnson, Darius Victor, and Trey Williams on Sunday afternoon. Philadelphia is coming off a game where they allowed 219 yards rushing to the Houston Gamblers.
However, the area that also favors New Jersey over Philly significantly in week 5 is the Generals improved pass rush under defensive coordinator Ted Cotrell against the Stars’ porous offensive line.
A year ago, despite having one of the league’s best defenses. New Jersey only mustered up ten sacks during the 2022 regular season. In 2023, the Generals surpassed that paltry number through four weeks. Cotrell’s defense leads the league with 12 sacks, and his unit faces a Philadelphia offense that has surrendered a league-high 19 sacks on the season.
Preseason projected MVP quarterback Case Cookus has been getting a lot of heat in his kitchen this season, so much so that he’s barely been left standing in one piece after each of his four contests.
Cookus and the Stars’ prolific pass offense from 2022 hasn’t been cooking due to opposing teams’ pass rushers feasting on their struggling offensive line.
The struggles upfront for Philly have created a negative chain of events, where the team is second to last in the USFL in turnover ratio, and the Stars are minus three in that category. Case Cookus has the same amount of interceptions as he does touchdown passes (5).
The Generals need to play their usual game. Smashmouth mistake-free football that forces the opposing team into playing a clean game. Something the Stars haven’t accomplished this season.
USFL: New Jersey Generals-Philadelphia Stars Week 5 Prediction
You keep waiting for the Stars to turn the corner and return to last year’s form. And perhaps seeing the Generals across the field will reignite Philly’s spark.
In some respects, Sunday’s game carries the same weight as a playoff contest for Bart Andrus’s squad. Although, the North is still wide open. The Stars are starting at a potential elimination from postseason contention if they lose to New Jersey. They will have plenty of motivation to course-correct their 2023 campaign against the Generals.
However, on paper, all signs point to a Generals’ victory in Week 5. New Jersey’s only two losses this season have come against the league’s top two teams, New Orleans and Birmingham. Mike Riley’s team is way more balanced and cohesive than Philadelphia’s, and I expect them to seize the opportunity of burying their rival.