It’s Week 5 in the 2023 USFL season, and the Birmingham Stallions will be looking to extend its winning streak against the Houston Gamblers.
Coming off their first loss of the season in Week 3, the Stallions responded with a 24-20 victory over the Pittsburgh Maulers last Sunday. Meanwhile, the Gamblers started the year 0-2 but have won back-to-back games to get to .500, including a sounding 41-16 victory over the Philadelphia Stars.
Birmingham enters the contest 3-1 and are one game back for the division lead. This is an interesting regular season matchup dating back to last season, as the Gamblers were the only team to defeat the Stallions in 2022.
With both teams having a good season up to this point, this game could have big implications on the playoffs and provide an indication on each team’s future.
Line: Birmingham -4.5, O/U 47
Date/Location: Saturday, May 13, 2023, at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama
Kickoff Time: 4:00 pm EST
Weather Forecast: Partly Cloudy, 85 Degrees, 15% Precipitation, 54% Humidity, 6 mph Wind
Key Storylines for the Stallions
At this point, the Stallions are going as far as quarterback Alex McGough takes them. He’s the driving force for the team’s success up to this point, and it’s important to let him cook in this matchup. McGough plays his best football when he’s loose and in rhythm. He leads the USFL with eight passing touchdowns. He’s thrown for 764 yards and has a 106 passer rating. He’s also rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns. He’s one of the best playmakers in the league right now and he’ll need to play well to win this home game.
Of course, the defense will have to play well and will need to improve over this next stretch of the season. Their bend-but-don’t-break defense has been successful up to this point, but the unit needs to be more consistent at getting stops and forcing turnovers. They’ve allowed just 73 points, the second-fewest in the league, but allow the second-most yards per game at 334.5. On top of that, the pass rush isn’t getting home — their six sacks rank tied for last in the USFL — and the secondary isn’t forcing interceptions.
Houston has the second-best offense in the league. The New Orleans Breakers are the only team ahead of them, who beat the Stallions and scored 45 points on their defense. Houston’s offense is talented, and Birmingham will again be without some key defensive starters. Players will have to step up and make plays in their absence.
It’s hard to be super confident in the Stallions squad at the moment after allowing 20 points the struggling Pittsburgh Maulers and only defeating them by four. Yes, a win is a win, but how you win is sometimes more important, and last week’s victory was the Stallions’ worst performance in a win this season.
You can rely on McGough to put together a great performance, but how will the defense fare against Houston’s offense? Depth has been an issue on Birmingham’s defense, and this will be another test to see if the unit will be good enough to compete with the best of the best.
This is going to be a close game. Both teams are talented and it’s going to feel like a slugfest. The Stallions are the favorites and will likely pull away with the win, but it will be a close one throughout.
Final Score: Stallions 30, Gamblers 28