The Stallions remain undefeated following what most predicted would be the game of the year. This game delivered on fans’ hopes of a shootout between two of the best rosters in the UFL. The Stallions held the home-field advantage and played in front of one of their largest crowds to date. 

This certainly helped the Stallions on defense as fans did their part to throw the offense off its game and it helped contribute to one false start in the 3rd quarter on a 4th and 10 play. Unfortunately for Birmingham, it didn’t change much as they muffed the punt and turned the ball over in the Redzone. Fans will get another chance to affect an offense this weekend against Houston. The same Houston team they defeated by a 23-point deficit in Houston just two games ago. 

How to Follow Along

This game is on Saturday, May 18th at 7:00 pm central time at protective stadium.

The radio broadcast can be heard on ESPN Xtra via Sirius XM. The television broadcast will be on ESPN2, the only UFL game available on ESPN2 this season. 

This makes for an interesting situation where Birmingham could see fairly low viewership and attendance in a game that has zero meaning with both USFL conference championship slots determined. Birmingham just wants to make it there healthy, while Houston would like nothing more than to hand the Stallions their first loss of the season. After all, misery loves company, right? 

Will the Starters Play the Whole Game?

Judging by the way the Stallions have approached games in the past, I expect we will see most of the starters at least come out to begin the game. I do not expect to see Adrian Martinez finish the game no matter how he is performing. Losing Martinez at this stage would be a disaster even if you do have two solid backup quarterbacks on the roster. 

If anything maybe you only play Martinez in the first quarter or first half then sit him for the rest of the game. You realistically could give him the next two weeks off, and bring him back week ten for a half before the playoffs. This is the biggest question mark for this game: how will the Stallions handle their starters? Keep in mind there is value in playing your backups before a playoff run, you never know when you will need them to step in.  The inactive list seems to tell us a little bit about how they will approach this.

Inactive List

Several players on this inactive list would likely not be on this list if the Stallions were about to play in a playoff game. Missing C.J. Marable, and Carlos Davis could be big blows, but in a game that has no bearing on their playoff future, the Stallions are likely playing it safe.

Keys to Victory

1. Stop Mark Thompson

2. Pressure the Passer

3. Play Efficient Offense 

Mark Thompson 

Mark Thompson and the Houston Roughnecks have struggled at times to get the running game going, which has forced them to be one-dimensional. Anytime you can force a team to be unbalanced on offense, your chances of winning skyrocket. It allows the defense to play even more aggressively and allows a team to put their foot on the opponent’s neck. 

This is exactly what I expect to happen in week 8. Currently, the Roughnecks are averaging just barely over 60 yards rushing per game. At times they have abandoned it completely which has only compounded their issues. Houston has averaged just 8.7 yards per completion on their way to the 4th most passing yards in the league. Their 8.7 yards per completion is only .3 above the lowest mark in the league of 8.4. This begins to paint the picture of Houston’s offense and how rough it has been for them. 

Pressure the Passer

The most sacked single quarterback in the league is Case Cookus with 18, and the Memphis Showboats have allowed the most sacks by a long shot with 32. In second place are the Michigan Panthers with 21. In third is Houston, whose two main passers have been sacked 18 times (9 a piece). No matter who has lined up center for Houston they’ve played efficiently completing 64.8% of their passes as a group, they just haven’t managed to produce big plays, in part due to the pressure they’ve faced on nearly every down to this point. 

Until Houston can show more diversity on offense they will continue to pigeonhole their passer into a tight spot, no matter who that player is. They need to re-dedicate themselves to the run but this may be the wrong game to get the run game going. The Stallions rank as the top rushing defense in the league. They are the only defensive unit that has allowed fewer rushing yards than the Roughnecks have produced through 7 weeks. Only the Roughnecks have allowed fewer yards per carry to this point. 

Play Efficient Offense

The Roughnecks defense is allowing the lowest completion rate in the UFL through seven weeks. As mentioned before they have allowed a league-low in yards per carry, likely due to their league-leading 40 tackles for a loss that have accounted for 149 yards lost. They have also managed to force 8 fumbles tied for most in the league while the Roughnecks are tied for second in turnovers, they have turned the ball over ten times for an even turnover ratio. 

If the Stallions can prevent themselves from giving the ball away in this game it should be an easy victory. The Roughnecks have played sloppy on offense most of this season, and if the Stallions don’t beat themselves, there isn’t a high likelihood of Houston leaving with a win. 

Betting Odds and Prediction

Birmingham is currently a 16-point favorite in this game according to DraftKings. The over/under is 43, and the money line is +1,000 for Houston and -1800 for Birmingham. 

I expect Birmingham to win this game by two scores but I do not expect them to cover the spread in this game. I see the Stallions letting off the gas as they start to insert backups after the first half. They could lead by as many as three scores at points in this game but I expect the final score to be 31-17, so by DraftKing’s odds I would say take the over, as well as Houston and the points.  

The Roughnecks have scored more than 17 points just twice all season. I could see a scenario where they don’t score more than 17 points in any game this season. Some of these players have publicly voiced their displeasure and it seems the coach is beginning to lose the locker room. This is typically when you see the wheels fall off of bad teams, and in 2024 it doesn’t get much worse than Houston. 

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Sam Just

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