Friday, July 1, 2022

USFL Week 3 Power Rankings: New No. 1 as New Orleans Breakers ascend to top spot behind Kyle Sloter

Now that we’re a couple of weeks into the USFL’s inaugural season, we’re starting to see the contenders separate themselves from the bunch. With that comes some significant shakeup in our power rankings, including a new No. 1 overall team that has quickly begun establishing itself as the team to beat in the league. Not only is there movement at the very top, but we’ve also seen a previously seventh-ranked club catapult inside the top three.

While the New Orleans Breakers may be the new top dog, Week 3 will have some serious implications for these rankings as our No. 1 and No. 2 teams will face off against one another along with our two bottom-ranked teams, so it’s possible we could be playing musical chairs at these spots for a second week in a row. 

In any event, here’s how the USFL hierarchy is looking heading into Week 3: 

1. New Orleans Breakers (2-0)

Previous week: No. 2

With two weeks in the books, the Breakers have established themselves as the team to beat in the USFL. This comes after a surprising 34-3 blowout win over the previously top-ranked Tampa Bay Bandits. Quarterback Kyle Sloter helped the offense to two touchdowns on its first two possessions and the Breakers kept their foot on the gas en route to the win. Defensively, it was a dominating effort by New Orleans as they engulfed the Bandits offense, holding them to just three points and 194 yards of total offense. All that has the Breakers now sitting as the co-betting favorite to win it all. 

Next game: vs. Birmingham Stallions (Saturday, April 30 at 8 p.m. ET)

2. Birmingham Stallions (2-0)

Previous week: No. 3

The Stallions are slotted beside the Breakers as the co-betting favorites to win the league at +350 and the local team does have a noticeable home-field advantage two weeks in. Having a crowd behind you in a league where the in-stadium attendance isn’t expected to be anything substantial is noteworthy, but the Stallions have also played at a high level. They lead the league in total scoring and have running back CJ Marable (two touchdowns) and wideout Osirus Mitchell (two touchdowns) both leading their respective rushing and receiving scoring categories as well. Next week’s game against the top-ranked Breakers will be a key barometer for how far this Stallions team may be able to go. 

Next game: vs. New Orleans Breakers (Saturday, April 30 at 8 p.m. ET)

3. Philadelphia Stars (1-1)

Previous week: No. 7

The Stars may have the best quarterback in the USFL in Bryan Scott. He leads the league in completion percentage (70.6%), passing yards (474), and passing touchdowns (4) while throwing just two picks. A chunk of that production came thanks to a monster day against the Maulers where he had three passing touchdowns and one rushing score as the Stars bounced back from their Week 1 loss to move to .500 on the year. With the Breakers and Stallions duking it out in the South Division, the North Division looks like it could be Philly’s for the taking. 

Next game: vs. New Jersey Generals (Sunday, May 1 at 8 p.m. ET)

4. Tampa Bay Bandits (1-1)

Previous week: No. 1

Quite the fall from grace here with the Bandits. After being looked at as the early favorite to begin the year, this Week 2 matchup against the Breakers was set to be a showdown between two of the USFL’s top teams. However, that never materialized. Tampa Bay was shelled from the jump as the Breakers ripped off touchdowns on their opening two possessions and were up 21-3 heading into halftime. While Jordan Ta’amu had a ton of hype surrounding him heading into the season, it hasn’t translated on the field. Through two weeks, Ta’amu has completed just 56% of his throws and has one passing touchdown coupled with three interceptions. 

Next game: vs. Houston Gamblers (Saturday, April 30 at 4 p.m. ET)

5. New Jersey Generals (1-1)

Previous week: No. 6

The Generals were able to hold the Panthers to just six points in their first win of the young season on Friday and disrupted Shea Patterson, who was the top pick in the USFL draft. He had just 50 yards passing before the Panthers’ final possession and ultimately finished with 124 yards through the air. So far, the Generals are well-balanced as they’ve allowed the third-fewest points in the league through two weeks, and league the league in rushing. That said, they’ll need to show a little more firepower through the air, especially with the Stars next up on the schedule. 

Next game: vs. Philadelphia Stars (Sunday, May 1 at 8 p.m. ET)

6. Houston Gamblers (1-1)

Previous week: No. 4

The Gamblers passing attack leaves much to be desired. They are at the bottom of the league in passing yards per game (111 yards) and have completed a league-low 47.1% of their passes, which is paired with four total interceptions (tied for the league lead). Defensively, they’ve given up the third-most points through the first two weeks, so there’s plenty to improve upon as the season goes along. 

Next game: vs. Tampa Bay Bandits (Saturday, April 30 at 4 p.m. ET)

7. Michigan Panthers (0-2)

Previous week: No. 5

Defensively, the Panthers can hang their hat on allowing just 27 points through two games (second-best mark in the league), but that’s about the only thing Michigan can shine a light on. While they can keep their opponents out of the end zone, they have just as hard of a time getting in there themselves, scoring just 18 points total. So far, top overall pick Shea Patterson has been a disappointment for Jeff Fisher’s club. Despite finishing with 124 yards for the game, Patterson was held to just 50 yards passing in their most recent loss to the Generals leading into the final possession. With the offense struggling as much as it is, it’s fair to wonder if we’ll see more of Paxton Lynch. 

Next game: vs. Pittsburgh Maulers (Sunday, May 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET)

8. Pittsburgh Maulers (0-2)

Previous week: No. 8

We’ll probably get a clearer picture of who the true bottom-dweller of the USFL is when the Maulers and Panthers square off in Week 3, but right now it’s Pittsburgh that claims the bottom spot. Following Week 2, they own the worst point differential in the league by a significant margin. While they were able to go toe-to-toe with the Stars in Week 2 and even held a lead heading into the fourth quarter, they struggled mightily closing. In the final quarter, the Maulers offense punted twice and had a turnover on downs and an interception while the Stars put up nine points to edge out the win. 

Next game: vs. Michigan Panthers (Sunday, May 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET)

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