By Chris Fallica
FOX Sports Wagering Expert
"Bear Bets" are real wagers that Chris "The Bear" Fallica is actually making.
Football is back as the second season of the USFL officially kicks off Saturday on FOX Sports and the FOX Sports App. While it has been only two months without the game I love, I'm glad to be able to get my football betting itch scratched in the spring.
The inaugural season of the league brought us a ton of great action, concluding with a championship for coach Skip Holtz and the Birmingham Stallions. Can they repeat? Or will an upstart such as the Memphis Showboats claim the throne?
I'll be here every week to give you my best USFL bets, so if you are looking to throw a few bucks down on the games, I have you covered.
Let's dive into my favorite wagers for kickoff weekend, with all odds via FOX Bet.
The Stars lost by a field goal in last year's championship game and now open with the team formerly known as the Tampa Bay Bandits.
Given the roster turnover in New Jersey, the Stars could return to the USFL Championship Game with what many believe to be the best QB/WR tandem in the league in quarterback Case Cookus and wide receiver Corey Coleman.
While QB Jordan Ta’amu is gone, Memphis might not see too much of a drop-off at the position with QB Brady White and RB Alex Collins. Saturday’s first game should be a high-scoring, back-and-forth affair. I'm betting on points.
The reigning champs face the Generals, who, too, went 9-1 last year in the regular season, but were upset in the playoffs. Unlike the Stallions, though, the Generals are rebuilding some this year as they have to replace 2022 USFL MVP KaVontae Turpin and starting QB Luis Perez.
I love that Stallions QB J’Mar Smith has been with head coach Skip Holtz at Louisiana Tech and Birmingham. It just feels like Birmingham is a little bit further ahead of New Jersey right now, given the roster turnover, so I’ll lay the five with the defending champs.
This feels like a low-scoring game as we have a new head coach in Houston (Curtis Johnson), who has been a very successful WR coach in both college and the NFL. However, that might come with some growing pains and a bit of a learning curve for a team that won only three games last year.
Longtime defensive coordinator Mike Nolan replaces Jeff Fisher, who won just two games last year in Michigan. He has a lot to work with on defense, including LB Paddy Fisher and Frank Ginda, whose names should be called quite often Sunday.
This should be a close, one-score game throughout.
This game has the lowest total of the week, and rightfully so. The Maulers finished last in the league last year, winning just one game. On top of that, they are a little unsettled at QB, although James Morgan was successful at FIU and was drafted by the Jets.
On the flip side, the Maulers do have some names on the defensive side of the ball that college football fans are familiar with, in LB Reuben Foster — who is coming off a major injury — DB Mark Gilbert and DT Olive Sagapolu. That should be enough to keep the Breakers out of multiple trips to the end zone, given they are overhauling their QB room, have a first-time HC in John DeFilippo and a solid LB core in Vontae Diggs and Jerod Fernandez.
If you’re a fan of defense, Sunday’s nightcap should be for you.
Chris "The Bear" Fallica has covered sports for nearly three decades. While college football has been his focus, he also enjoys the NFL, Soccer, Golf, Tennis, MLB, NHL and Horse Racing, with an "occasional" wager on such events. Chris recently won the inaugural Circa Football Invitational and finished in the Top 10 of the Golden Nugget Football Contest. He’s a multiple-time qualifier for the NHC Handicapping Championship. Remember, "The less you bet, the more you lose when you win!" Follow him on Twitter @chrisfallica.
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