The Houston Gamblers fight to win the South Division Sunday as they take on the Birmingham Stallions in a critical week nine matchup.
Houston had a tough run-in with the Pittsburgh Maulers as the offense got off to a slow start to the game down 13-6 at halftime. Thanks to the play of star running back Mark Thompson, two rushing touchdowns were enough to help the Gamblers escape with a 20-19 win over the Maulers. Thompson added 98 rushing yards to the two touchdowns. Quarterback Kenji Bahar improved his performance from previous weeks going 11 of 20 for 146 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions. Isaiah Chambers came up big on defense with injuries to the front seven recording three tackles, one sack, and two tackles for loss in the win.
The Gamblers improve to 5-3 on the season securing a non-losing season for Houston as they stay in the hunt for the playoffs. They are still fighting for the top spot in the division as they sit tied for second with the New Orleans Breakers and the Memphis Showboats. The Birmingham Stallions hold the top spot in the division with a 6-2 record which is Houston’s next opponent on Sunday.
Line: Stallions -3.5, O/U 45.5
Date/Location: Sunday, June 11, 2023, at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee
Kickoff Time: 1:00 pm CST
Weather Forecast: Scattered Thunderstorms, 80 degrees, Precipitation 40%, Humidity 70%, Wind 14 mph
Gamblers Injury Report
One definitive player will be out for Sunday’s game as Houston’s draft pick Jeffery Johnson remains out with a left-hand injury that has kept him out. Linebacker Reggie Walker will be someone to keep an eye on as he is listed as questionable with a left rib injury. Walker has 20 tackles and tied for the team lead with four sacks on the season. Not having him would hurt an already banged-up defense that needs pass rushers.
Gamblers Depth Chart
Not much change to the depth chart with the focus being on the defensive line. Reggie Walker is listed as the backup behind Chambers. Ronheen Bingham has more depth as his backup Chris Garrett joins the team this week and is on the depth chart. Moves were made this week for Houston to add more depth to the defensive line.
Gamblers Signings/Cuts/Active-Inactive List
A familiar face to the Houston Gamblers returns with running back Benny LeMay was signed onto the team this week. LeMay played on the team last season as he rushed 16 times for 57 yards in two games last season for the team. It doesn’t appear he will be active for the game, but with a running back position that has seen two players out with injuries, LeMay is insurance for the Gamblers.
Two players were also signed earlier in the week as one that was already mentioned was defensive end Chris Garrett who appears will be active for the game this weekend. Wide receiver Emmanuel Butler was also signed to Houston, but he appears he won’t be active for the game.
Houston did release defensive end Eli Howard from the roster this week as they made changes to their defensive line. Howard didn’t play much for the Gamblers this season as they rearranged what the defense will look like in the last couple of games of the season.
With Walker questionable, he was able to move to the active roster which is encouraging for fans to see one of their top pass rushers potentially playing. Two more defensive players were moved to the active roster with Josh Avery and recently signed Garrett joining the roster. Depth on the offensive line gets better with Braylon Jones being put on the active roster.
The offense for Houston has become predictable, but unstoppable when it comes down to running the football. Last season, fans saw Thompson get stopped in the second half of the season, but this season he has been dominant since the beginning and doesn’t show signs of slowing down. It’s become simple for the offense: run the ball with Thompson and Bahar hit big pass plays throughout the game.
Houston’s defense is getting some healthy players back with their pass rush as they will need it. Birmingham quarterback Alex McGough has been lights out and appears to be the MVP of the USFL. The Gamblers’ defense will have to contain him in the pocket and force the Stallions to beat them with their running backs.