Week 4 in the USFL 2023 season sees the undefeated New Orleans Breakers (3-0) travel to Canton, Ohio, to face the 2-1 New Jersey Generals. The top teams in the North and South will clash in what could be a preview of the USFL Championship game in July. A game that would take place in the same exact setting in the shadows of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
USFL Week 4 Preview: New Orleans Breakers @ New Jersey Generals, Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton, Ohio, Sunday, May 7th, 3 PM ET, NBC/Peacock
Point Spread: New Orleans Breakers, 2.5-point favorites
Moneyline: Breakers -167, Generals +130
Weather Forecast: Scattered showers and thunderstorms. High 73F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.
- Odds courtesy of FOXBet
The New Orleans Breakers and New Jersey Generals are coming off statement wins in Week 3.
The Breakers staked claim to the South by sailing past the defending USFL Champion Birmingham Stallions 45-31.
While the Generals reclaimed their stake in the North by defeating the previously unbeaten Panthers 28-13 in Michigan’s home opener at Ford Field.
New Jersey, winners of two straight after losing their opener at Birmingham, are seemingly back to what made them successful a year ago. Marching forward with a highly productive rushing attack (169 yards per game) and a stingy defense that has allowed the fewest points in the league after three weeks. (43).
Combined with last week’s highly efficient passing attack, quarterback DeAndre Johnson returned to his star-making ways from a season ago. Mike Riley’s Generals are back to being who they were in 2022.
The Breakers, despite being a playoff team in 2022, are vastly different from last year’s squad. New Orleans has an entirely new coaching staff led by John DeFilippo, and the Breakers have new stars leading the way for them offensively.
Veteran quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Running back Wes Hills, and tight end Sage Surrat have helped the Breakers take the entire USFL by storm. A week ago, New Orleans’s offense averaged 7.3 yards per play and racked up 483 total yards. The scary thought is that the Breakers’ offense might only be scratching the surface of its potential as the new teammates under DeFilippo and Doug Martin’s offense continue to build chemistry.
Week 4 New Orleans Breakers-New Jersey Generals Depth Charts/Injury Updates
The ever-secretive and elusive depth charts not distributed by the USFL and its teams during a game week are a unique contrast from all standard pro sports leagues. Nevertheless, just show up on game day, or check out the league’s broadcast partners displaying starting lineups when the games have already begun.
The Breakers and Generals are relatively healthy after three weeks of play. Barring any last-minute lineup surprises on an authorized list. Many of their key players are still in the starting lineups.
The Breakers will be without WR/Returner Johnnie Dixon. He is the most notable player missing in action.
Keys To Victory For The New Jersey Generals
The best defense against a high-powered offense is keeping them off the field. The Generals have the ball-control style and ground attack that can achieve that goal.
Even though the Breakers are second in the league in rush defense, allowing only 75 yards per game. They haven’t faced up against a team that has the running QB/RB duo that New Jersey has.
Where New Orleans’s defense under defensive coordinator John Tenuta has been susceptible is against the pass, especially in the last two weeks. The Breakers’ offense has compensated and camouflaged any defensive deficiencies by out-scoring opponents in shootouts.
New Jersey is not built to pass the ball 40 times a contest. But Steven Smith’s offense is at its best when they can strike with big plays passing off the run-action game. Something the Generals did last week against Michigan with two 50-plus-yard scoring plays.
Defensively, Ted Cottrell needs to find a way to slow down the league’s hottest runner Wes Hills while also finding a way to pressure McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who has only been sacked five times in three games. MBT’s lone interception on the season came under pressure last week against the Stallions. Thompson has a tendency throughout his playing career to run hot and cold. He’s currently on a severe hot streak, looking as comfortable as ever. The Generals must find a way to get him out of his comfort zone.
A week ago, New Orleans exploited Birmingham’s coverages by attacking down the seams. New Jersey’s stellar safety tandem of Dravon Askew-Henry and Shalom Luani must be on top of their game to limit the Breakers’ big plays down the field.
Kick coverage is an area where the Breakers have struggled mightily in the first three weeks of the season. In week one, New Orleans allowed an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown; in week two, the Gamblers had two 40-yard plus kick returns; and last week, the Stallions hit paydirt with an 82-yard kick return for a touchdown by Deon Cain. Whether it’s Christian Tutt or Marcus Green, the Generals need to find a way to create favorable field position in the return game.
USFL Week 4: New Orleans Breakers @ New Jersey Generals Prediction
The early weather forecast calls for rain in Canton, and that type of setting could benefit New Jersey’s smashmouth style.
As USFL defenses have learned the hard way, neutralizing the Generals’ rushing attack led by superstar back Darius Victor is easier said than done.
However, even if Sunday’s matchup comes down to a run-dominated outing due to weather, after two weeks, New Orleans has proven, with power runner Wes Hills, that they can play that game if they have to.
We will find out a lot about both these teams on Sunday afternoon. It’s a battle of the highest-scoring team in the league against the defense, which has allowed the fewest points in the USFL.
The Breakers slayed the Stallions and their quality defense last week. Can they do it again against New Jersey?
I don’t see New Orleans being as prolific offensively this week, but they get the edge regarding quarterback play.
As tempting as it is to pick the Generals. I think the Breakers are on a different playing wave right now. New Orleans stays unbeaten and unbreakable.