What to expect in Houston Gamblers vs. Philadelphia Stars

The Houston Gamblers appear to be on the rise. The Philadelphia Stars appear to be slipping. Is this the week either of those things change?

The Gamblers are coming off a spectacular come-from-behind victory over the Memphis Showboats in Week 3 while the Stars have lost back-to-back games for the first time since the USFL returned to action last season. 

[Inside The Drive: See how Gamblers rallied for win]

This will be the Stars' second game in Detroit in as many weeks, and when they take on the Gamblers (Saturday, 1 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app) they'll hope to change their fortunes from Week 3.

Will the Stars get back to early season form?

After the first game of the season, it looked like the Philadelphia Stars would have no problem making it back to the USFL championship. The next week ended up as a bit of a reality check as Philadelphia lost to the Michigan Panthers, who look to be much improved over last season.

Things really went off the rails last week, when quarterback Case Cookus threw two interceptions for the second game in a row. Philadelphia had a total of three turnovers in the game, which proved too much to overcome.

The Stars are averaging a league-worst 2.75 yards per carry, not allowing Cookus any sort of run game to lean on.

That being said, the Stars are holding their own in the passing attack, averaging 220.3 passing yards per game, which ranks third in the league. Their leading receiver, Corey Coleman, already has 311 all-purpose yards this season, 211 of which are as a receiver. Philadelphia also has the third-best third-down conversion rate of any team in the league, converting at a 44.4% rate. If they can supplement that with a more balanced offense, the Stars should be able to return to form.

Can Gamblers keep rolling?

Running back Mark Thompson returned to his 2022 standards in Week 3. After leading the league in rushing yards last season, Thompson found that form against the Showboats, finishing with 84 yards on 21 carries and a pair of touchdowns. The Gamblers leaned heavily on their ground game to ensure last week’s win, finishing with a total of 132 rushing yards overall.

Even as Memphis mounted a comeback late in the game, the Houston defense held on just enough to give the Gamblers offense one last possession. Quarterback Kenji Bahar then drove his unit the length of the field, winning the game on a touchdown pass to wide receiver Justin Hall, his second score of the game.

"I peeked, and the corner had left," Hall said after the game. "He went with the outside receiver, and I just knew I was wide open. Kenji (Bahar) made a great pass. The O-line held their own, everybody did their 1-of-11, and we ended up with the win."

It was set up by a beautiful long ball over the middle to tight end Josh Pederson. If Houston can keep its offense clicking, the Stars will have their hands full trying to get back in the win column.

Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen had previous stops with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, which added the title of Super Bowl Champion (and boat-parade participant) to her résumé. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.