It’s Week 4 of the 2023 USFL season, and the Birmingham Stallions are playing on the road for the first time where they will face the Pittsburgh Maulers on Sunday, May 7 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. This will be the Stallions’ first game on Sunday this season, giving them an extra day to rest and prepare for a pivotal matchup.
The Stallions (2-1) are coming off its first loss of the season to the New Orleans Breakers, 45-31 last week. This was arguably the most surprising outcome of Week 3 because Birmingham was coming off a dominant 42-2 victory over the Memphis Showboats. The Stallions’ defense went from allowing zero points to 45.
Bouncing back from a tough loss is important for any team, and the Stallions have a great opportunity to do so against a struggling opponent. The Maulers sit at 1-2 through three weeks but haven’t scored more than 21 points this season. Birmingham has eclipsed that number in every game so far in 2023.
The Stallions may have dropped a spot in the USFL News Hub Week 4 Power Rankings, but they’re still legit contenders and have a chance to remind the league how dominant they can be.
Line: Stallions -8, O/U 43.5
Date/Location: Sunday, May 7th, 2023 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton, Ohio
Kickoff Time: 6:30 PM EST
Weather Forecast: Rainy, 67 degrees, Humidity 78% Wind 4MPH
Key Storyline for the Stallions
All eyes will be on the Stallions’ defense to see how the unit performs after giving up a season-high 45 points and 483 yards (7.3 yards per play) to the Breakers. This was one week after the defense allowed just 183 yards and 3.7 yards per play to the Showboats.
Nevertheless, Birmingham’s defense had a tough outing and couldn’t get off the field for most of the game. The Stallions allowed a score on seven of the Breakers’ nine possessions, excluding end-of-half drives.
Right now, this appears to be just an outlier that defensive coordinator John Chavis will correct going forward but it’s an important storyline to focus on heading into this Week 4 matchup. How will the defense respond after allowing 45 points and nearly 500 yards?
To be fair, Birmingham has been without JoJo Tillery, Scooby Wright, Joe Jackson and many more starters on defense, which likely played a big factor in the poor performance. However, they still might be without those key starters and will have to put together a better defensive game plan in the events that they don’t play.
Keep an eye on the Stallions’ twitter page for injury updates on the aforementioned players. Birmingham is going to have to get healthy on defense because the lack of depth at a couple positions is concerning.
The strength of the Stallions’ team this year is the offense, led by quarterback Alex McGough. He leads the USFL in passing touchdowns with seven and might just be an early MVP candidate. The Stallions average 342 offensive yards per game. The Maulers have a bend-but-don’t break defensive mindset, so it’ll be important for McGough and Co. to get into scoring position and converting on those opportunities.
The defense suffered a minor setback in Week 3 but will have plenty of opportunities this week to prove their still an elite unit. The’ve forced five turnovers and are facing a struggling Maulers offense that is last in points (39) and third-down conversion rate (22.2%). The defense needs a rebound game and this is their chance to capitalize on the moment. Birmingham’s defense should perform better against an inferior offense than a week ago. If they don’t, then they might be in trouble, especially on the road.
The Stallions are the better, more experienced team and should bounce back accordingly. With the conditions in play, expect Birmingham to win, and the under to hit.
Final Score: Stallions 24, Maulers 13