Not a single team in the league has clinched a playoff spot. On the flip side, not a single team has been eliminated from postseason contention.
The South and North are done with each other until the USFL championship game. Northern teams will be happy about that. They went 3-13 against their counterpart division.
With two weeks left, All four teams in the Southern division are over 500. fighting for two playoff spots. On the flip side, the Northern division is topped by a 4-4 Philly team—one of the three sub-500. teams behind them will net a playoff berth.
Here is what the USFL 2023 Standings look like heading down the stretch.
2023 USFL DIVISION STANDINGS
Here is how I stack up the USFL’s teams heading into Week 9. Starting from the bottom to the top.
USFL 2023 Post Week 8 Power Rankings
#8: New Jersey Generals (2-6)
Two moments in Sunday’s 25-16 loss perfectly encapsulate the failings of the Generals 2023 campaign. New Jersey’s logo this season should be that of a white flag.
In a crucial moment before the end of the first half. After their defense forced a turnover in the end zone, New Jersey led a drive into scoring territory. But Mike Riley, once again, mishandled the clock to the point where he told his offensive players on the mic that it was his fault.
Moments later, The Generals nearly bypassed a 50-yard field attempt because they had no timeouts but got bailed out when Todd Haley curiously called a timeout. It didn’t matter, as Nick Sciba missed his first field goal of the season.
Then late in the game, down one score, with 1:39 left and two timeouts. Mike Riley allowed Memphis to run the clock out at the 41-yard line.
A year after being named USFL coach of the year, there’s been no worse coaching performance in the league than that of Mike Riley. The Generals were all smiles after dropping their fifth straight game to Memphis on Sunday, 25-16. Perhaps having no win bonuses attached to games in 2023 will put you in that who cares mindset.
The Generals may not be mathematically eliminated after staying winless as a host team in Canton. But they deserve to be. New Jersey will face Philadelphia next week in a game they will probably treat as another summer scrimmage with no meaning.
#7: Pittsburgh Maulers (2-6)
For the second straight week, the Pittsburgh Maulers stood toe to toe with one of the USFL’s best teams, only to fall short in the closing moments. In Week 8, Ray Horton’s bunch suffered their most heartbreaking loss of the season, a 20-19 defeat where Pittsburgh’s Chris Blewitt missed a potential go-ahead field goal late in the fourth quarter.
The Maulers might share the league’s worst record after eight weeks. But that’s the only thing Pittsburgh has in common with its 2022 predecessor. They are a much better football team than last season under Ray Horton. Ultimately, though, there is still a talent disparity between them and the USFL’s better teams.
Pittsburgh is still alive in the playoff hunt, despite being 2-6. They finish the regular season facing two divisional opponents, starting with the Michigan Panthers next Saturday afternoon. They need to win out.
#6: Michigan Panthers ( 3-5)
The Panthers battled back from a 21-0 deficit but fell short 24-20 in Week 8’s loss to New Orleans. Michigan’s defense brought the team back from the dead, and its offense valiantly scratched and clawed its way back as well.
Michigan simply ran out of time. Because they burned all their timeouts way before they should’ve. One of the wasted timeouts came on a faulty challenge of an interception that bounced off the ground in the end zone. The other burned time-out came to avoid a delay of game penalty. The two missteps ultimately ended up costing the Panthers a shot at pulling off an improbable comeback.
Michigan, despite the defeat, showed a lot of fight and still remains in second place in the North Division. Mike Nolan’s squad controls their own destiny. They will square off with the Maulers in Week 9. The Panthers have shown progress in the last two weeks and, by default, should snatch the second postseason spot within their division. A victory next week coupled with a Generals loss would do the trick.
#5: New Orleans Breakers (5-3 )
The Breakers ended their three-game losing streak in Week 8, but they had to sweat things out profusely.
Anyone who has followed McLeod Bethel-Thompson’s pro career in Canada closely knows his propensity of running hot and cold in every game he plays. The Breakers and USFL fans saw that firsthand on Sunday.
At one moment, MBT looked like a world-beater, leading his offense to three touchdowns. And what should’ve honestly been four scoring drives, if not for a Wes Hills fumble in the red zone.
After a hot start, things immediately went south for Bethel-Thompson, with errant throws and two game-changing interceptions that brought the Panthers back to life from a 21-0 deficit.
Thanks to the Breakers’ lethal receiving duo of Johnnie Dixon and Jonathan Adams. Michigan’s poor clock management and New Orleans’s defense holding on late. They were able to hold onto a 24-20 victory.
The Breakers are on the brink of the playoffs in a four-way dogfight for two spots. They will face off with the two teams they need to surpass in the final weeks of the regular season.
First up, a rematch with the scorching hot Showboats in Week 9. A team that has won their last five games. It was Memphis who started New Orleans’s three-game slide before Week 8’s action.
#4: Philadelphia Stars (4-4)
In a rematch from last year’s USFL Championship game. The Philadelphia Stars had their three-game winning streak snapped by the defending league champion Stallions in Week 8.
The end result of Saturday’s 27-24 loss to Birmingham has to be frustrating for Philadelphia. Especially since they came one defensive stop away from beating the USFL champs, but in some ways, despite the outcome, it can be classified as a moral victory for the Stars.
Case Cookus and Philly’s offense is back to their 2022 form. And the team’s special teams and defense have been playing at a top level.
Bart Andrus’s squad hopes to get another chance against Skip Holtz’s group when it counts the most on July 1st.
However, at 4-4, the Stars have some business to take care of before they can even dream of a shot at a USFL Championship. They will face the league’s worst team, New Jersey, next Sunday night, and Philadelphia can put the Generals out of their misery and themselves back into the playoffs.
#3: Houston Gamblers (5-3)
The Gamblers came close to dangerously falling behind in the ultra-tight South playoff race. However, Houston found a way to hang on late to nab a 20-19 victory. Thanks to a missed field goal in the game’s most crucial moment by the unfortunately named Chris Blewitt.
RB Mark Thompson continues to carry Houston. The dynamic running back had his fifth multi-touchdown game. Despite their favorable record, the Gamblers may not be a sure bet to make the USFL playoffs. But as long as they have Thompson on their side, they can overcome the odds.
Curtis Johnson’s Gamblers have very little room for error in the final two weeks of the regular season. They will need to be better down the stretch than in Week 8.
Houston will play a red-hot Stallions team in a crucial game next Sunday before closing things out with New Orleans.
#2: Memphis Showboats (5-3)
The hottest team in the USFL, Memphis, stays hot, winning their fifth straight game in Week 8. A complete team effort in a 25-16 triumph over New Jersey. The Showboats’ style of victory embodies why they continue to win football games.
Todd Haley’s troops are playing terrific complimentary football. They forced turnovers on special teams and defense. Alex Kessman nailed six field goals, and Memphis grinded out the clock (40:55) and yards (148) in their ground game to outclass a fading New Jersey team.
The Showboats look like a legitimate championship contender. The problem is that there are two playoff spots available in the South. Any hiccup in the final two weeks could prove costly and erase the goodwill they have amassed in the last five weeks. Memphis can eliminate one of the southern contending teams from contention in Week 9 by sweeping their season series with New Orleans next Saturday.
#1: Birmingham Stallions (6-2)
Led by pending league MVP Alex McGough and his late-game heroics against Philadelphia. The now 6-2 Birmingham Stallions topped the Philadelphia Stars 27-24 in a rematch from last year’s championship game.
Unlike other teams like New Jersey, who experienced success a year ago. Despite losses in the offseason, Skip Holtz’s Stallions and injuries have remained a top team in the USFL. Birmingham is getting great play from their quarterback Alex McGough, who has evolved as a player this season. But the team has also shown great depth, coaching, and leadership.
Because of how tight things are in the South, the Stallions must stay strong in the final two weeks of the regular season. At 6-2, they only possess a one-game lead over three teams in the division. The defending USFL champs have a pivotal game against a Houston team in Week 9, who beat them earlier this season. Believe it or not, a Stallions loss next weekend could put them in danger of missing the playoffs. There’s no letting up now.