USFL Week 9 power rankings: It's the Stallions, then everyone else

With one week left in the regular season, the USFL is as wide open as ever.

Only one team has clinched a playoff berth — the defending champion Birmingham Stallions — and none of the other seven teams have been eliminated from postseason contention.

It all sets up an exciting Week 10, with games in Memphis, Canton, Ohio and Detroit. Let's check out our latest edition of our 2023 USFL power rankings.

[If the playoffs started today]

1. Birmingham Stallions (7-2, 3-2 in South)

Last week: Beat Houston, 38-15.

With a league-best seven wins in nine weeks, and as the first and only team to clinch one of four playoff spots, the Stallions have reclaimed the top spot in the rankings.

Quarterback Alex McGough put together another performance to give further credence to his MVP candidacy. He completed 13 of 21 passes, ran up 242 total yards, and accounted for three TDs against Houston on Sunday in Houston’s home hub.

The Birmingham offense is firing on all cylinders right now, scoring 31 offensive points vs. Houston on only 43 plays. They only reached third down five times all game (fewest in a game since the league resumed in 2022).

2. New Orleans Breakers (6-3, 3-2 in South)

Last week: Beat Memphis, 31-3.

A long weather delay didn't do much to dampen the Breakers' resounding win against a Showboats team that had won five straight. The Breakers defense starred in the win by holding Memphis to as many points as it had INTs (three).

The Breakers' receiving trio of Jonathan Adams, Johnnie Dixon and Sage Surratt each came into last week’s game in the top 10 in receiving yards but only managed one catch apiece vs. Houston.

With the USFL South Division Championship Game set for 7 p.m. ET on June 25 at Protective Field, the Breakers have a chance to clinch a playoff spot, win the South title with a win — and a Stallions' loss — in Week 10 and push Birmingham to the visitor's sideline.

3. New Jersey Generals (3-6, 3-2 in North)

Last week: Beat Philadelphia, 37-33.

A game-opening, 85-yard kickoff return for a TD by Cam Echols-Luper proved to be pivotal in the Generals’ win.

De'Andre Johnson also picked the right week to return, completing 15 of 20 passes for 213 yards — becoming the first Generals QB to eclipse 200 yards passing this year. Darius Victor had his first rushing TDs since Week 3, while also becoming the first player this season with a rushing TD, receiving TD and passing TD in the same game.

With their win against the Stars, the Generals have basically forced the North Division playoffs to start a week earlier. At 3-6, they're tied with the Maulers and Panthers for second place while the Stars are just a game ahead in first place.

4. Philadelphia Stars (4-5, 2-3 in North)

Last week: Lost to New Jersey, 37-33.

Despite Case Cookus’ terrific passing performance — 25-of-39 for 322 yards with three TDs — the Stars fell to the Generals.

A win would've clinched a playoff spot for the Stars for the second year in a row. Instead, they join the Maulers, Panthers and Generals in a win-or-go-home scenario in Week 10.

5. Houston Gamblers (5-4, 2-3 in South)

Last week: Lost to Birmingham, 38-15.

The Gamblers were outscored 28-6 in the second half against the Stallions — at home. Their MVP candidate, running back Mark Thompson, was held to 59 yards on 17 rushes. The loss catapulted Birmingham into the playoffs and guaranteed the South Division title game will take place at Protective Stadium.

Houston was 0-for-5 in the red zone vs. Birmingham, and 4-for-14 over its last four games (29%). That’s a big difference from the first five weeks of the season, when the Gamblers converted 13 of 16 trips into TDs (league-best 81%).

Still, the Gamblers aren't out of the playoffs. With a win against Memphis this weekend and a loss by New Orleans, they could clinch a playoff spot for the first time in the modern era of the USFL.

6. Memphis Showboats (5-4, 2-3 in South)

Last week: Lost to New Orleans, 31-3.

Memphis walked into Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium leading the league in turnover margin at +5. Then the Showboats turned the ball over five times in four quarters against the Breakers on Saturday. During their five-game win streak, the Showboats were +9 in turnover differential, but they're 0-4 when losing the turnover battle.

Memphis' defense held the Breakers offense, ranked No. 1 in the USFL, to just 177 yards, with quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson passing for only 88 yards. If the offense doesn't sink the Showboats, and the Stallions break the Breakers, a win earns the yacht club a trip to Birmingham for the playoffs.

7. Pittsburgh Maulers (3-6, 3-2 in North)

Last week: Beat Michigan, 19-7.

The Maulers offense summoned just enough points to not squander another gem by its defense. 

With the help of an 83-yard punt and a 64-yard kickoff return, not to mention three scoreless quarters and four turnovers caused by the defense, the Maulers stayed in the hunt for a playoff spot heading into the final week of the regular season.

The Maulers defense is proving to be the best in the league, ranking first in scoring, total yards allowed, rush defense and takeaways. With their low-scoring offense, they need to be great. Pittsburgh is 0-5 when allowing 14 or more points this season.

8. Michigan Panthers (3-6, 2-3 in North)

Last week: Lost to Pittsburgh, 19-7.

With a chance to knock the Maulers from the playoff race and take control of the second playoff spot in the North Division, the Panthers could muster just 245 total yards. Quarterback Josh Love’s four INTs certainly didn't help.

Pittsburgh’s defense has been a tough matchup for Michigan this season, with the Panthers turning it over eight times in the two losses to Pittsburgh, compared to only nine giveaways in their other seven games combined. A third meeting with the Maulers is still in play for the playoffs if both teams win in Week 10.

RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast "The Number One College Football Show." Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young and subscribe to "The Number One College Football Show" on YouTube.