1) Jesse- New Orleans Breakers
In a massive departure from where we started the season, the breakers have put themselves in the driver’s seat. A compelling performance out of running back Wes Hills the last couple of weeks, paired with McLeod Bethel-Thompson playing lights out, was enough for them to upset the Birmingham Stallions (pretty convincingly I might add).
1) Josh- New Orleans Breakers
The Breakers are for real this season. I had them ranked pretty high to start the year, but with a dominant win last week against Birmingham, they proved they are the team to beat. Wes Hills and McLeod Bethel-Thompson are making early cases for USFL MVP. The defense looked improved last week, slowing down an incredible Stallions offense.
2) Jesse- Birmingham Stallions
The surprise of week 3 was that the Stallions were absolutely manhandled by the New Orleans Breakers. The Stallions are more than likely still one of the teams to beat in this league. Alex McGough seemed to have an off day last week, and the defense didn’t play up to their usual standards. It appears that the loss of starting quarterback J’Mmar Smith is going to affect this team, something I wasn’t sure of last week against Memphis.
2) Josh- Birmingham Stallions
The defending champions may have fallen one spot, but they are certainly in the USFL’s top tier. Losing J’Mar Smith hurts a little, but Alex McGough has been electric. Birmingham may still have the best overall roster construction in the league, but they will be playing their first TRUE road game (non-neutral field) in 40 years. Coming off a loss, this week will be telling for the Stallions.
3) Jesse- New Jersey Generals
After week one, no team tumbled quite like the New Jersey Generals. Missing several playmakers, including last year’s USFL MVP, they looked really rough in their week one loss against the Stallions. Since that moment, however, they have shown signs of life. Dominant wins against Pittsburgh and Michigan have slid them back into the upper half of the league.
3) Josh- Michigan Panthers
Michigan fans did NOT disappoint on Sunday! They showed up in bunches to cheer on the surging Panthers. Unfortunately, Michigan just could not get into an offensive flow. The two-QB system is…strange for the Panthers, as the two QBs have the same skill sets. that said, this team has still looked very good through 3 weeks.
4) Jesse- Michigan Panthers
I could end this statement by referring to it as the Jeff Fisher effect and be done with this section. The night and day difference from this team last year to this is almost unreal. The Panthers have ridden a solid defense and good quarterback play from Josh Love to a 2-1 record to start the season. I genuinely look forward to seeing what the rest of the season has in store for this team.
4) Josh- New Jersey Generals
The Generals looked really rocky in week one, but have fallen back to what helped them last year offensively, the run game. Last week New Jersey racked up 198 rushing yards and mixed in a few long passing play touchdowns. De’Andre Johnson’s rushing ability is keeping the defense on skates and Darius Victor is still punishing defenders.
5) Jesse- Philadelphia Stars
Let’s be honest, positions 5-7 could all probably be interchanged at this point. The surprise here, however, is that most people had Philadelphia as their favorite to win it all this year. Most preseason rankings had them as the number-one team going into the season. Given how they started last season before playing in the championship, I am not inclined to full-on panic just yet, however after losses against Michigan and a struggling Maulers squad, they cannot waste any more time finding themselves
5) Josh- Houston Gamblers
Houston finally slowed down on the turnovers and pulled out a win. The team is 1-2, but they went down to the wire against New Orleans last week. the team is good, not the defensive juggernaut from last season, but offensively, Kenji Bahar has electrified the offense. If he can limit the turnovers, and with Mark Thompson running the ball well, Houston could make a little run through the midseason. Oh, and how can I not mention Justin Hall?! The man reminds me of Anquan Boldin, the way he finishes plays!
6) Jesse- Houston Gamblers
This team is a bit of an enigma, in week 2, they played New Orleans to a 7-point game, then this past week they needed a final drive Touchdown to beat the winless Showboats. The offense is showing signs of life, despite turning it over almost as much as the Seattle Sea Dragons of the XFL. This team is only going to go as far as Kenji Behar is able to carry them, so the big question about how far they can climb is can he limit the interceptions?
6) Josh- Pittsburgh Maulers
Pittsburgh finally did it! They scored an offensive touchdown, and on the back of another stellar defensive performance, beat the Philadelphia Stars. The Maulers have a long way to go offensively, but with the way the defense has played, they can stay in any game. Just need to see some offensive production before they can move up the rankings.
7) Jesse- Pittsburgh Maulers
This team looks kind of like the San Antonio Brahmas. Their offense is struggling mightily to get anything going. As a team, they have one of the worst passing attacks in the league, and their running game hasn’t been much better. and honestly, had they not pulled off the upset against Philly, they would probably be number 8 on this list. They still have a lot of things to figure out in this season.
7) Josh- Philadelphia Stars
It pains me to have the Stars so low. Philly was a preseason favorite for many outlets, Ambush Sports included. But with virtually NO running game, Case Cookus has been tasked with beating defenses that are no longer afraid of the run. This team is primed to make a big run, as Cookus has been putting up early MVP-caliber numbers, but he needs help…badly.
8) Jesse- Memphis Showboats
Not much more can be said about the worst team in the USFL at the moment. 2 close losses this season to Houston and Philadelphia, and a 42-2 blowout, leave them as the only winless team in the USFL. What’s worse is that Todd Haley has shown a certain lashing out at other coaches in this league, and is starting to remind me of Terrell Buckley. I hope that they are able to fix that before they go full Orlando Guardians, but the potential certainly seems to be there.
8) Josh- Memphis Showboats
This should come as little surprise after the first two weeks of the season. But last week showed some promise. Ryan McDaniel had one of the greatest catches I have ever seen. But it was all for naught, as the Showboats’ defense left Justin Hall wide open for the go-ahead TD. Early on, I had Memphis ranked highly, particularly because of Todd Haley. But in back-to-back weeks there has been some controversy with the coach. He had an altercation with Birmingham coach, Skip Holtz, for “running up the score”. Then accused Houston coach, Curtis Johnson, of spying on the Showboats’ practice. Not a good look, and as long as the crybaby antics stick around, I don’t see Memphis winning anything.