With only three more weeks of the USFL’s regular season to go, every game becomes critical, and this Week 8 battle between the worst and best of the North Division is no exception, with the Pittsburgh Maulers facing the New Jersey Generals on a Friday night in Birmingham.
The Maulers drop to 1-6 after a confusing Week 7 performance against the Birmingham Stallions, a 16-26 loss that seemed to stem from total game mismanagement by HC Kirby Wilson, his choice to bench QB Vlad Lee in the fourth quarter for the new guy Rivers baffling.
With the Generals’ win last week over the Tampa Bay Bandits, 20-13, they have clinched a playoff spot but don’t expect them to rest their starters for the rest of the season, this New Jersey rushing attack the best in the league and their QB Luis Perez an accurate passer.
Here are our best predictions, odds, and picks for Maulers vs Generals – good luck, win big!
Pittsburgh Maulers vs New Jersey Generals Predictions
Can the Maulers HC Kirby Wilson Defend His Game Choices?
Last week, the Pittsburgh Maulers lost their sixth game and once again HC Kirby Wilson’s ability to lead this team has been called into question, his decision to run out the clock in the first half instead of getting the offense in position to kick a field goal was not the only questionable call.
That missed field goal opportunity came back to haunt Pittsburgh in the fourth quarter when they could have used it to pull within a score, but then at that point, another of Wilson’s odd choices took place when he benched starting QB Vlad Lee for the new guy, Roland Rivers.
As talented as Rivers seems to be, he only joined the team last week, so to throw him into a close game seemed ridiculous, especially given starter Lee’s performance the week prior when he caught fire late in the game, this Maulers team being put in an uncomfortable spot by Wilson.
Can the Generals Pass Game Begin to Match their Rush Attack?
When a team has won all but one of their games and has clinched the postseason by Week 7, it seems petty to point out any weaknesses, but the 6-1 NJ General have a number one rush attack but just a number three pass game, though it becomes tough for a team to have both.
Though the Generals are ranked behind the Breakers and Bandits in pass production after seven games, New Jersey has completed an impressive 71.7 percent of their passes this season with only one interception, a sign that their QB effectiveness has been solid.
The Generals attempt a league-leading 37.6 rushes per game which generates 165.9 yards on the ground each time, and their 13 rushing TDs leads the league as does their total ground yards (1,161) for the year, a tough dual threat offense that can beat you both ways.
Maulers Key Player: (QBs) Roland Rivers & Vlad Lee
Must be an awkward Pittsburgh Maulers locker room these days what with HC Kirby Wilson’s turnstile approach to the QB position, and at this point he says he has no clue whether he will start Vlad Lee or Roland Rivers for this do or die Week 8 matchup against the Generals.
Keep in mind, Rivers just joined the team last week, so the former Slippery Rock QB is no doubt playing catch up all this week, the big-armed 6’ 2” 234-pound scrambler with a quick release and a high football IQ, though with such little prep time it seems odd that he would get the nod.
On the other hand, Vlad Lee is the more experienced of the two Mauler QBs, having appeared in three total games so far this season and starting under center in two, so far with 42 completions off 79 attempts (53%) for 426 yards and 3 TDs with 3 INTs, still a newbie, too.
Generals Key Player: (S) Dravon Askew-Henry
The Generals not only have a solid dual-threat offense, they also field a defense that keeps opponents off the scoreboard better than any other team, right now having allowed just 112 points this season (16 points per game), and S Dravon Askew-Henry is a huge part of that.
Last week in the General’s win over the Bandits, Askew-Henry had himself a big game posting 2 interceptions and 3 passes defended along with 8 total tackles, the 26-year-old former West Virginia player with plenty of prior NFL camp experience as well as a stint in the XFL.
The 6’ 0” 203-pound Askew-Henry was a producer at West Virginia, having posted 215 tackles (162 solo), 9.5 tackles for loss, six interceptions and 10 pass breakups while he was there, and now he brings that same big-play capability to the Generals’ playoff-bound secondary.
How to Watch Maulers vs Generals
Maulers vs Generals Information What Pittsburgh Maulers vs New Jersey Generals Where Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama When Friday, June 3, 2022; 8: 00 PM ET How to watch USA