Saturday, May 28, 2022

USFL Week 5 Power Rankings: Birmingham Stallions remain perfect, New Jersey Generals continue to climb

Four weeks of USFL action are in the books and, as we now have a month’s worth of games to digest, there’s a pretty clear hierarchy forming. With just one perfect team and one winless club remaining, the top and bottom spots on this list are set in stone until further notice. That said, there has been some jockeying within the meat of these rankings throughout the season, including a new team entering the top 2 this week. 

Before we sit back and watch the Week 5 slate unfold, let’s take a look at where each team stands. (Check out all of our USFL news here, including standingsschedule, and scores.)

1. Birmingham Stallions (4-0)

Previous week: No. 1

Another week and another win for the Stallions, who remain perfect on the season. They were able to take down the Bandits in dominating fashion, holding Tampa Bay to 158 total yards, including just 36 total yards in the second half. While it was a relatively quiet day for the offense, as it was held to under 20 points for the first time all season, the Stallions still lead the league in scoring. That said, their calling card has been the defense, which is holding opponents to an average of 17.3 points per game and has recorded a league-leading 12 sacks. 

Next game: vs. Philadelphia Stars (Sunday, May 15 at 12 p.m. ET)

2. New Jersey Generals (3-1)

Previous week: No. 3

It was a cakewalk for Generals in Week 4, as they took down the lowly Maulers en route to their third-straight win. They have command of the North Division and are successfully riding a dual quarterback attack with Luis Perez and D’Andre Johnson. Combined, Perez and Johnson completed 20 of their 24 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown in the win against Pittsburgh. On top of their efficient play under center, running back Darius Victor leads the USFL with four touchdowns while the Generals are second in the league with 178.3 rushing yards per game as a team. Defensively, they are holding opponents to 15.8 points per game (third-fewest in the USFL). 

Next game: vs. New Orleans Breakers (Saturday, May 14 at 3 p.m. ET)

3. New Orleans Breakers (3-1)

Previous week: No. 2

It wasn’t the prettiest of showings by the Breakers in Week 4, but they were able to pull out a win regardless. Quarterback Kyle Sloter struggled in the win, throwing three interceptions and fumbling once on a sack. New Orleans overcame those turnovers thanks to strong play by the defense that held the Gamblers to just 16 points on the day and three in the second half. While the Breakers sit behind the Stallions for first place in the South Division, they are second in the league in scoring and have allowed just 14.5 points per game through four weeks. 

Next game: vs. New Jersey Generals (Saturday, May 14 at 3 p.m. ET)

4. Philadephia Stars (2-2)

Previous week: No. 5

The Stars were able to pull out a win and remain in the hunt in the North Division, despite not having starting quarterback Bryan Scott (knee). Philly edged out a 26-25 win over Michigan as backup quarterback Case Cookus bested No. 1 overall pick Shea Patterson on Friday by completing 73.3% of his passes for 190 yards, two touchdowns, and one pick. He also helped lead the Stars on what proved to be the go-ahead field-goal drive to put Philadelphia up by one with just over five minutes left. It did, however, get a strike of good fortune when the Panthers missed a 21-yard game-winning field goal with just three seconds left on the clock to clinch the victory. While they were able to eke out a win this week, they’ll face much tougher sledding in Week 5 when they face top-ranked Birmingham. 

Next game: vs. Birmingham Stallions (Sunday, May 15 at 12 p.m. ET)

5. Tampa Bay Bandits (2-2)

Previous week: No. 4

Despite entering the year as a preseason favorites, the Bandits haven’t played to the level many anticipated. Their two wins came against Houston and Pittsburgh, who are in last place in their respective divisions. Meanwhile, the two losses have come against the Breakers and, most recently, the Stallions, who are considered to be among the best teams in the USFL. Similar to their Week 2 loss to the Breakers, scoring became an issue for the Bandits in their Week 4 loss to Birmingham. They were shut out in the second half during which they had four three-and-outs. 

Next game: vs. Michigan Panthers (Friday, May 13 at 8 p.m. ET)

6. Houston Gamblers (1-3)

Previous week: No. 6

Poor defense has been the Gamblers’ Achilles heel this season, as they are tied for the most points allowed in the USFL. That said, they were able to force Breakers quarterback Kyle Sloter to commit four turnovers in Week 4, but they simply couldn’t capitalize offensively as New Orleans outscored Houston, 13-3, in the second half. When you win the turnover battle by a margin of 4-0 and still can’t pull out a win, alarm bells should be ringing for a Houston offense that averaged just 3.4 yards per play Sunday. 

Next game: vs. Pittsburgh Maulers (Sunday, May 15 at 4 p.m. ET)

7. Michigan Panthers (1-3)

Previous week: No. 7

The Panthers struggled against Stars backup quarterback Case Cookus, as he completed 73.3% of his passes in his first start of the year. Even as Cookus found success against Michigan, Jeff Fisher’s team had a golden opportunity to pull out the win but stumbled in the final seconds. Trailing by one, the Panthers had the football at the 3-yard line with 28 seconds left in the game. Instead of going for the touchdown and utilizing the two timeouts at his disposal, Fisher let the clock run down and opted for the field goal. Kicker Michael Carrizosa lined up for the 21-yarder, but it failed to go through the uprights. 

Next game: vs. Tampa Bay Bandits (Friday, May 13 at 8 p.m. ET)

8. Pittsburgh Maulers (0-4)

Previous week: No. 8

The Maulers remain winless on the season and are abysmal offensively, as they are averaging 9.7 points per game. It also doesn’t help when they are giving up 23 points per game, which is the second-highest in the USFL. They may have a shot at pulling out their first win of the season when they face the 1-3 Gamblers next week, but judging by what we’ve seen thus far, there may be a substantial drop off between even the likes of Houston or Michigan and where Pittsburgh finds itself at the bottom of these rankings. 

Next game: vs. Houston Gamblers (Sunday, May 15 at 4 p.m. ET)

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