The kickoff to season two of the USFL begins this weekend as the Houston Gamblers take on the Michigan Panthers on Sunday.
Houston goes into the season with a new-look coaching staff and defense in place. The offense has plenty of returning starters from last season’s team. It’s the defense that will have a much different look with players heading to the NFL or the XFL.
Line: Gamblers -1, O/U 37.5
Date/Location: Sunday, April 16th, 2023, at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee
Kickoff Time: 12:00 PM EST
Weather Forecast: Partly Cloudy, 57 Degrees, Humidity 49%, Wind 16 mph
Key Storylines for Gamblers
Kenji Bahar needs to take a big leap in season two as the quarterback after leading the team to two of their last three wins. Bahar has proven to be the playmaker the Gamblers need to move the ball down the field. The one thing they struggled with was scoring touchdowns to finish drives. With more continuity on the offensive line and solid playmakers, Bahar should have plenty to work with.
The experience of the secondary is key for Houston to win this week as they need to create turnovers. Their front seven is brand new so there is uncertainty about what fans are going to see with the Houston Gamblers’ team. Players like Manny Bunch will have to step up and make plays to take the pressure off of Houston’s front seven.
The cards are stacked against the Gamblers as they face off against a Michigan team that has massively approved with their offense. New quarterback Carson Strong takes over with multiple top offensive players returning including running back Stevie Scott, running back Reggie Corbin, and receiver Devin Ross. Even with new head coach Mike Nolan, the Panthers have improved on offense and defense and they should be poised for a better season.
This game all depends on how the Gamblers’ defense plays. Houston’s defense must keep the running game in check and force Strong to throw the football. Running back Mark Thompson must be the workhorse the Gamblers saw in him in the first half of last season. Time of possession needs to be the key stat for Houston. It’ll be a close game, but if Houston can’t create the turnovers, it will not be a smooth game for the Gamblers.