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USFL 2023 Week 4: Houston Gamblers (1-2) Odds, Injuries, Preview, Prediction

After picking up their first win of the season in the last seconds, the Houston Gamblers look for two straight wins against the Philadelphia Stars.

Last week was a breakthrough for the Houston Gamblers as a Justin Hall touchdown with 13 seconds left gave Houston a 30-26 win over the Memphis Showboats. Running back Mark Thompson’s return was much-needed rushing for 81 yards and two touchdowns. The offense had a solid game with 365 total yards of offense and scored three touchdowns in three red zone appearances. Even the defense performed their best game of the season with two turnovers and two sacks in the win.

The win for Houston was their first of the season putting their record at 1-2 on the year. They come into the game with more momentum than the Philadelphia Stars who are coming off a 21-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Maulers for their second straight loss of the year.

Game Preview

Line: Stars -2.5, O/U 46

Date/Location: Saturday, May 6, 2023, at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan

Kickoff Time: 12:00 PM CST

Weather Forecast: N/A

TV/Streaming: Fox

Gamblers Injury Report

Four players were ruled out of Saturday’s game against Philadelphia with some key players being out. Running back T.J. Pledger left last week’s game with an ankle injury which now appears will keep him out of this week’s game as well. Pledger is in the top five in the USFL in rushing yards and served as Thompson’s backup prior to the injury.

Defensive lineman Damion Daniels was also ruled out of this week’s game as he is dealing with a left knee injury. He was moved to the injured list earlier in the week. Punter Andrew Galitz is also out with a right foot injury. The other injury is offensive tackle Jordan Steckler is out with a neck injury hurting the depth of the offensive line.

Gamblers Active/Inactive List

Special teams usually don’t get a lot of love, but this week Houston will see some upgrades. Punter Hunter Niswander will be making his Gamblers debut after kicking in the XFL in 2020 and the NFL in 2020 and 2021. Receiver Isaiah Zuber is back in a Houston uniform for the first time since last season when he was the leading receiver for the team in 2022. Zuber will play a major role in the offense as well as could see time as a returner.

The backfield will look different without Pledger as it will be Shermari Jones backing up Thompson for the game. It will be his first game as a Houston Gambler as well. Offensive guard Jair Joseph and defensive tackle Julian McCleod will be active this week to add depth to the lines that have seen some injuries.

Gamblers-Stars Preview

Photo via Twitter USFLGamblers

The Stars have struggled with protecting Case Cookus in their pocket as he has been hit time after time in the last couple of weeks. This is something Houston will have to take full advantage of with Ronheen Bingham tied for third in the USFL in sacks with 2.5 on the season. Houston’s pass rush has a chance to put up big numbers as Cookus has been sacked 13 times in three games which is four more than the next quarterback.

With Pledger out, it’s the Mark Thompson show in the backfield, so the offense needs to feed him the ball often. They also need to make sure quarterback Kenji Bahar stays in rhythm and avoids costly turnovers. Bahar had a much better game with just one pick last week, but eliminating turnovers altogether will put Houston in a better position to win.

Philadelphia is not a team to sleep on as they were in the USFL title game just last season. The issues they are running into are their rush offense and rush defense struggling. This is an advantage for Houston as they have one of the best-rushing offenses in the league and their front seven is showing steady improvement. It’ll be a tight game with two teams desperately needing a win. Turnovers will be the deciding factor on who wins this game.

Prediction: Philadelphia Stars 26, Houston Gamblers 23

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Credentialed Reporter/Writer for XFL NewsHub, Writer for CFL NewsHub, Reporter/Writer for USFL NewsHub.

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