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USFL 2023 Week 5: Houston Gamblers (2-2) Odds, Injury Report, Depth Chart, Preview, Prediction

The Houston Gamblers are looking to stay hot with a third straight win as they take on south division rivals Birmingham Stallions.

Houston is coming off a powerful performance as they went into Detroit, Michigan, and blew the roof off Ford Field with a 41-16 shellacking of the Philadelphia Stars. The Gamblers racked up 463 total yards of offense and the defense sacked Philadelphia quarterback Case Cookus six times in the win. Houston did get tough news though with quarterback Kenji Bahar suffering an ankle injury in the win and missing most of the second half of the game.

The win put Houston at 2-2 and currently riding a two-game winning streak in the process. They have a massive challenge facing off against the 3-1 Birmingham Stallions who are also coming off a win against the Pittsburgh Maulers. This game could determine who takes the lead in the south division so it is the biggest game of the season for the Gamblers.

Game Preview

Line: Birmingham -4.5, O/U 47

Date/Location: Saturday, May 13, 2023, at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama

Kickoff Time: 3:00 pm CST

Weather Forecast: Partly Cloudy, 85 Degrees, 15% Precipitation, 54% Humidity, 6 mph Wind

TV/Streaming: Fox

Gamblers Injury Report

The biggest name on the injury report is Bahar who is dealing with an ankle injury. He was listed as questionable for the game with news later being he was placed on the inactive list. This will lead to a new quarterback starting for the Gamblers on Saturday.

One other injury to make note of is running back TJ Pledger who is listed as probable for the game. This would be a big boost for the team after Pledger was not able to go last week against the Stars. He should be back in the rotation as a backup to Mark Thompson.

Gamblers Active/Inactive List

Bahar was the biggest name moved to the inactive list as he will be out for the game against the Stallions. The other big name moved to the inactive list is Kristjan Sokoli who has played a big part on the defensive line in the middle.

The good news for Houston though is Pledger was active again which should put him as the number two back on the team. Quarterback Montell Cozart was also moved as activated as he should be in line to be the backup to Terry Wilson. Houston’s college draft pick Jeffrey Johnson was moved to the active list for the first time this season as he could see playing time with Sokoli out.

Gamblers Depth Chart

Everyone’s eyes shift to the quarterback position as it will be Wilson getting his first career start in the USFL with Cozart being his backup for the game. An interesting note to make is Isaiah Zuber is listed as a wide receiver and a cornerback. Whether that is a mistake or not is unknown, but it is worth noting that Houston only has four cornerbacks so Zuber could be an emergency cornerback if needed.

Gamblers-Stallions Preview

Photo via Twitter USFLGamblers

Wilson has big shoes to fill with Bahar being out as Bahar has improved his performance every single week this season. Houston offensive coordinator Eric Price has used Wilson more for running situations so fans could see a shift with the running game being a bigger factor. The good news is the receiving core is deep with Justin Hall being the star of the group which should give Wilson more confidence to generate big plays on offense.

The defense for Houston is starting to come into form with Ronheen Bingham and Reggie Walker becoming top pass rushers in the USFL. Donald Rutledge Jr. has emerged as a top player in their secondary with him and Manny Bunch being a good one-two punch at the safety positions. It’ll be worth noting how the run defense does with Sokoli not being active for the game.

Birmingham has had their share of injuries with Scooby Wright being added to the list with J’Mar Smith, Bo Scarbrough, and Marlon Williams also out for the team. If there was ever an opening for Houston to take the division by the horns and run with it, winning this game would help with that. The Stallions are still deep on the roster, but Houston has proven to be competitive in their games. Gamblers Head Coach Curtis Johnson has done a spectacular job leading the team to early success. Another win would have Houston in the driver’s seat for the division, but they have to prove themselves once again to the world against a good Stallions football team.

Prediction: Birmingham Stallions 24, Houston Gamblers 20

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