The Pittsburgh Maulers take the biggest stage of the USFL in the 2023 Championship in Canton, Ohio against the Birmingham Stallions on Saturday.
By some miracle, the Maulers have gone from worst, to potentially first in the USFL food chain. After an abysmal 1-9 season in the league’s debut last year, they turned it around to the tune of a 4-6 record, benefitting greatly from winning a weak division and taking advantage of it. Last weekend they edged out the Michigan Panthers in a 31-27 victory to ensure a position in this championship game. Now, it all comes to fruition against the 9-2 favorites of the league in the Stallions.
The Maulers have been playing the best football of their young history these last few weeks, with quarterback Troy Williams III taking major steps in his development and the defense creating turnovers and opportunities every which way. They’ll need to play to a different level this weekend, as championships are so hard to come by as a favorite, never mind as a heavy underdog.
Line: Stallions -7, O/U 45.5
Date/Location: 8:00 PM EST, Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton, Ohio
Weather Forecast: 75 degrees, 50% chance of rain, 78% Humidity, 4MPH Winds
Key Storylines for Maulers
All the cards are on the table now for the Maulers. If they haven’t reached everything in their sleeve yet, now is the time to do so. These two teams have faced off this season already. Back in week four the Stallions took home a 24-20 victory to the tune of two touchdowns from quarterback Alex McGough and the Maulers offense had a shaky outing.
The season went on to be totally different for these two teams as Birmingham plowed through the competition the rest of the way, and the Maulers had some good fortune to be in this position. It’s time to play as if they’ve been in this position before and will need a much more consistent day on the offense to keep up with the league’s best team in the league’s biggest game.
Prediction for Maulers-Stallions in USFL Championship
Who doesn’t love a great underdog story? Throughout history you have teams like the 2001 New England Patriots in the NFL, the 2021 Atlanta Braves in the MLB, the 2011 Dallas Mavericks in the NBA, and the incredible turnaround of the 2019 St. Louis Blues in the NHL. The Maulers have a chance to add their names to the list of teams who were figured to never have a chance but will have to do so against the league’s best team all season long.
In a game like this, anything goes, and I think a -7 line in favor of Birmingham is quite disrespectful to the idea of “any given Saturday” in the case of this championship. But the Maulers have very much benefitted from good fortune to be here. Not every year is it that a team can be two games under .500 and win their division. But 2023 was the case and the Maulers happened to be in the right place at the right time going 3-1 over their last four games, and now with a playoff win? They don’t play like their record.
So give me the Maulers in an upset. It might be through black and yellow colored glasses, but how often does an underdog story of this magnitude get to play out? It’ll be a close game if the Maulers do win, but their defense is good enough to pull out the stops, and all the offense has to do is not lose. It’ll be an interesting time on Saturday and will be worth watching for all fans of this league as we tie a bow on a second season of USFL football.
Final Score: 24-21, Maulers win