USFL Power Rankings: Birmingham crashes the Breakers’ party

Week 3 of the USFL shook up the top of the Power Rankings again. Both divisions saw some separation between first place and the rest of the pack. With one more week of divisional matchups before a week of interdivisional games, let’s see which USFL teams moved to the top.

USFL Power Rankings

There could only be one undefeated USFL team left after the Breakers and Stallions went head-to-head in Week 3. In the end, the Stallions completed their third straight fourth-quarter comeback to move to 3-0. Meanwhile, the Generals started to build their cushion in the North division after taking down the Stars. Let’s look at how the Week 3 action shook up the USFL Power Rankings.

1) Birmingham Stallions (3-0)

Welcome to the top of the pecking order in the USFL Power Rankings, Birmingham. May your stay be more extended than the last two No. 1s. QB J’Mar Smith is the heart and soul of this offense, standing tall in adversity. Even facing a 13-10 deficit heading into the fourth quarter for the third straight week, Smith got the Stallions’ offense down the field for 10 points in the fourth quarter to win a massive game for Birmingham.

While the offense may have been slow to start, the defense keeps the games manageable. LB Scooby Wright III amassed 17 tackles and a crucial forced fumble on an early goal-line stand. A full 60 minutes from the Stallions’ offense should help them stay at No. 1 following their Week 4 tilt against the Bandits.

2) New Orleans Breakers (2-1)

While the Week 3 loss to the Stallions stings, the Breakers don’t drop far in the Power Rankings. They’re still one of the top teams in the USFL to start this season. QB Kyle Sloter is one of the best signal-callers in the league while developing a fantastic connection with WR Johnnie Dixon. What let the Breakers down in Week 3 was their strength from the first two weeks. After not allowing a sack in New Orleans’ first two wins, the Breakers’ offensive line surrendered 4 to Birmingham.

It’s only three weeks into the season, so there’s plenty of time for adjustment in the standings, but the head-to-head loss against the Stallions will not do the Breakers any favors in the short term. At this point, head coach Larry Fedora needs to start a new streak and regain some momentum.

3) New Jersey Generals (2-1)

The Generals move up one spot in the USFL Power Rankings following their win over the Stars. While a two-quarterback system sounds strange, HC Mike Riley has implemented it surprisingly well. QB De’Andre Johnson seems to be the 1A to Luis Perez’s 1B, but it turns into wins for the Generals.

Johnson’s ability to run with the football puts the ball in his hands more. Johnson completed 6 of his 8 passes for 130 yards while scampering for 91 yards and a touchdown. The defense continues its upward progression as well. After giving up 28 points to Houston in Week 2, the Generals responded by shutting down the USFL’s best passing offense. They should only continue to rise with a date against the Pittsburgh Maulers in Week 4.

4) Philadelphia Stars (1-2)

Week 3 was concerning for Philadelphia after QB Bryan Scott went down with a knee injury. Case Cookus did well in his stead, but the Stars need Scott back to maintain a hold on second place in the North division. While the offense was handicapped due to Scott’s injury, it is not what led to their slide in the USFL Power Rankings.

The Stars’ defense needs to tighten up. The flashes from the offense make this a fun story, but the defense has given up 23 and 24 points the past two weeks. The only team the Maulers have scored a touchdown against is the Stars, and they scored 3. They’ve only scored 3 points in their other two games combined. Hopefully, getting gashed by the Generals’ backfield for 269 yards will motivate Philadelphia to make some changes.

5) Tampa Bay Bandits (2-1)

After looking like the best team in the league in Week 1, the Bandits got boat raced by the Breakers in Week 2. Thus, Tampa’s 27-26 victory over the Gamblers was precisely the answer it needed. The Bandits were a beautiful interception away from a 16-point deficit when heading into halftime. QB Jordan Ta’amu and the offense responded by scoring 13 points in the second half while the defense held Houston to just 3 points.

We’ve seen what the Bandits can do on both sides of the ball when they’re at their best. The second half version of Ta’amu from Week 3 will be paramount against the Stallions in Week 4. Furthermore, the Bandits need the defense from Week 1’s game against the Maulers if they want to claw back into the South division’s playoff race.

6) Houston Gamblers (1-2)

The USFL Power Rankings take a dive in talent at this point. The Gamblers’ defense is fierce, forcing turnovers and wreaking havoc across the field. If only they had consistent support from their quarterback. Clayton Thorson played his best game of the season in Week 3, and it still wasn’t enough to beat the Bandits.

RB Mark Thompson continues to be the driving force behind any offensive cohesiveness as the best back in the USFL. His 147-yard Week 3 performance pushes his season total to 310 yards, a 57-yard lead over second place. If the Gamblers can learn how to finish games, they might be able to dig themselves out of the basement of the South division.

7) Michigan Panthers (1-2)

Unfortunately for the North, they have two of the worst teams in the USFL. That point was made even more evident by one of them destroying the other in Week 3. After their one-week trip to the bottom, Michigan moves up one spot in the USFL Power Rankings. While the Panthers may not be one of the top teams in the USFL, they are pretty high up in one area: running the football.

The Panthers’ consistent offensive momentum has come from a stout rushing attack. At this point, QB Shea Patterson may not have been the best decision for the first overall draft pick. Still, Michigan needs him to play clean football now and not mess things up. Second place in the North is up for grabs. Can the Panthers surprise a weak Philadelphia rushing defense with an upset?

8) Pittsburgh Maulers (0-3)

If you haven’t won a game yet, it’s challenging to rank a team higher than last, especially if they are the only ones. In Week 1, the Maulers were the only team not to score a touchdown. Then, in Week 3, they became the first team to be held scoreless following their 24-0 loss to the Panthers. Therefore, back to the bottom of the USFL Power Rankings they go.

HC Kirby Wilson was forced to make a QB change, and the move to Kyle Lauletta seemed to pay some dividends. The Maulers are finding room on the ground to run (averaging 4.7 yards per carry) but just can’t seem to turn drives into points. There’s still plenty of time to steal a playoff spot in a meek North division, but a Week 4 game against the Generals will be quite the test for Pittsburgh.



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