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USFL 2023: Post Week Six Power Rankings, The League’s Playoff Race Tightens

Sixty percent of the USFL 2023 Regular season has been completed. And with four weeks left to go, all eight USFL teams are separated by only one game in the standings.



Let’s look at how all 8 USFL teams stack up heading into Week 7.

USFL 2023 Post Week 6 Power Rankings

#1: Houston Gamblers (4-2)

The Gamblers are rolling after their fourth straight triumph, a 16-10 victory over the New Jersey Generals. As a result, Houston is now in a three-way tie atop the South with New Orleans and Birmingham.

The Gamblers have improved to 4-2 because they are playing great complimentary football. Their defense has raised their game in recent weeks to match what has been an efficient offense and special teams.

There isn’t a lot of room for error in the South. Houston has to keep their winning streak alive in Week 7, especially as they square off with another red-hot team in divisional opponent, Memphis, who have won three consecutive games.

#2: Birmingham Stallions (4-2)

The Stallions took care of business in Week 6, galloping past the Michigan Panthers 27-13. Thanks mainly to another MVP-like performance by Alex McGough, who has raised his game significantly from a year ago. Birmingham would not be in the position, they are without McGough.

The Stallions are going to need to work for their supper in the final four weeks of the regular season. Three of their last four games are against the South, none more significant than their upcoming Week 7 matchup against the Breakers, who took Birmingham down head-to-head a month ago.

As tight as things are within their division, Skip Holtz’s squad can’t afford to drop another game to New Orleans.

#3: New Orleans Breakers (4-2)

It may seem like recency bias to drop New Orleans down to #3, mainly because the Breakers have beaten the two teams ahead of them in these rankings, Houston and Birmingham. However, there’s no denying that they haven’t been the same team the last three weeks.

Their latest loss, a 16-10 defeat against the Stars, was as ugly as it gets. It was a mistake-filled game where each team took turns shooting themselves in the foot. Philly outlasted the Breakers more than actually outclassing them. Someone had to win.

New Orleans’s offense has slowed down heavily in the last three games. Their struggles continued on Sunday against Philly.

John DeFilippo has to find a way to recreate the magic, his offensive attack had earlier this season.

The Breakers have an ultra important game upcoming against Birmingham. New Orleans has a chance to sweep their season series with the Stallions, and take a stronghold over the South.

#4: Memphis Showboats (3-3)

The Memphis Showboats have won their third straight game after shutting out the Pittsburgh Maulers 22-0. As a result, Todd Haley’s squad looks like a legit playoff threat—a stunning turnaround after the team started the season with three consecutive losses. Suddenly Memphis is clicking on all cylinders.

No player showed up or showed out the way Showboats WR/Returner Derrick Dillon did in Week 6. The LSU speedster had a tremendous game in Memphis’s 22-0 victory, amassing 219 yards and a score. But his 109-yard touchdown off a missed field goal stole the show this past weekend.

The Showboats have a crucial game next Sunday against the Houston Gamblers. Despite their turnaround, there’s very little room for error in the South.

Back in Week 3, Houston sunk Memphis’s ship with a 30-26 victory. Todd Haley’s group can exact revenge. And they need to, because in a tight Southern playoff race. Memphis can’t afford to be swept by the Gamblers and fall to 1-3 within the division.

#5: Philadelphia Stars (3-3)

You take the W and move on. That has to be the feeling for the Philadelphia Stars, who, for the second week in a row, failed to score a touchdown but yet netted the dub. A 16-10 mistake-filled slop fest over the suddenly breakable Breakers.

Sunday’s Philly-New Orleans matchup was a horrid football game. Not what you expect in Week 6 from two teams with competent quarterbacks. Philadelphia had 144 penalty yards, and turned the ball twice, yet found a way to win. As a result, the Stars now stand alone atop the North at 3-3.

To their credit, Philly’s defense and special teams have stepped up the last two weeks while their offense continues to struggle. So if the latter can return to form, maybe the Stars can end up back in a championship game, and the way things are going, they might get there by default.

Philly has a big game upcoming with the Maulers in Week 7. Bart Andrus’s crew will seek revenge against Pittsburgh, who knocked them off three weeks ago. The Stars must avoid a season sweep against the Maulers and losing control of their newly earned spot in the North.

#6: New Jersey Generals (2-4)

The New Jersey Generals dropped their third straight game in Week 6, this time a 16-10 loss to the Houston Gamblers. They are now 0-3 in one score games this season—a stark contrast from their efforts in 2022.

The Generals defense came to play and slowed down the Gamblers’ offense for much of Sunday. Unfortunately, New Jersey lost two of their best defensive players as the game progressed. Safety Shalom Luani (bicep) and LB Chris Orr (MCL). No word yet on the severity of those key injuries.

The area that is really hurting New Jersey is their anemic offense. The Generals lack playmakers at wide receiver, and as a result, they are too predictable on offense. New Jersey tried to have Kyle Lauletta lead their march in Week 6. However, the results weren’t good enough. The Generals faced the worst pass defense in the USFL in Week 6, yet couldn’t sustain any offense.

Late in the game, New Jersey showed some life offensively, but the team needs to show more urgency and efficiency for four quarters. The Generals didn’t handle the end of the game very well either. A common occurrence for Riley this season, dating back to last year’s North Final.

Mike Riley’s troops need to get back to their winning ways soon. They are only a game out of first place, but it feels like the Generals’ hopes are fading. They will have a chance to get back on track next Sunday in an important divisional game against the equally 2-4 Michigan Panthers.

#7: Pittsburgh Maulers (2-4)

The Maulers’ two-game win streak was snapped by a surging Showboats team on Saturday; Memphis dominated Pittsburgh 22-0 in Week 6.

Pittsburgh’s top defense came to play again. But the Maulers’ offense didn’t. It was a disappointing result after Pittsburgh showed progress in that area a week prior, with QB Troy Williams winning top USFL offensive player honors.

All is not lost for the Maulers; they will have to quickly brush off Week 6’s loss and refocus their efforts on a huge showdown with Philadelphia.

Pittsburgh, if they can beat Philly in Week 7, will have swept the Stars this season and will own a head-to-head tie-breaker over them. It’s a pivotal game for the Maulers.

#8: Michigan Panthers (2-4)

The reborn Panthers remain winless in Michigan after a 27-13 loss at Ford Field to the Birmingham Stallions. Mike Nolan’s has dropped their fourth straight game after a promising 2-0 start to the season.

The Panthers were competitive against the defending USFL champs in Week 6 and had their chances to make a game of things and pull off the upset. But once again, Michigan faltered in pivotal moments that could have swayed the outcome in their favor.

No moment was a better microcosm of Michigan’s recent failings than their sequence on Saturday in the final seconds of the first half.

Down 13-3, Josh Love and the Panthers drove swiftly into scoring territory at Birmingham’s 22-yard line with 23 seconds left. The Panthers spiked the ball to stop the clock, then had a delay of game penalty immediately after the spike.

A 12-yard completion set up third and three with time running out.

With no timeouts remaining, Rather than spike the football or throw it away, Josh Love decided to run the ball on a sweep, was tackled in the field of play, and the clock would run out. As a result, the Panthers would end the half without scoring.

Afterward, Panthers Offensive Coordinator Eric Marty said that he told Love to spike the ball, but that Love thought he was instructed not to. A major miscommunication that perfectly embodies the Panthers’ struggles under pressure the last four weeks.

Perhaps the best thing that can happen to Michigan is playing away from Ford Field. The Panthers won’t be back home until the final week of the regular season. They will play three straight road games, starting with a Sunday trip to Canton to face the New Jersey Generals.

Because of the parity within the North, despite their failings, the Panthers are still in the thick of the race. They can turn things around. However, a win over New Jersey is a must for Michigan.

Everyone in the USFL is still alive in the playoff chase, including the Panthers.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Len Granito

    May 23, 2023 at 9:50 pm

    So interesting, that as the season goes on it would be easier to rank the teams, but I actually feel it’s getting more difficult. That stated you again nailed it.

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