Professional football returns to action this weekend as the USFL kicks off its rebranded inaugural season in Alabama.
Michigan sports bettors will be able to place wagers on the league and the hometown Michigan Panthers.
Don’t look for the USFL to be the same format as the NFL we have grown accustomed to. There are plenty of differences you should know about before placing your wagers.
Latest USFL odds
Though this is the first season of the 8-team USFL restart, you can find futures odds to win this year’s championship.
When it comes to Week 1, a number of sportsbooks are offering up odds for the games. However, the odds were quite varied.
FoxBet Sportsbook originally had totals listed around 53-55 points. All other books were listing the games around 43 points. FoxBet has since joined its peers with its latest total projections.
For a new league with no historical statistics to base odds on, the first few weeks could be a litmus test for not just bettors, but sportsbooks as well.
“Per our trading team, we use season long projections that we used to set league winner odds to create opening lines for each matchup,” BetMGM Michigan said when asked about how they set their odds. “The trading team also monitors betting activity and adjusts lines as needed.”
As of Wednesday, the Panthers are finding themselves as a 2.5-to-3-point favorite in their opener with the Houston Gamblers on Sunday at Noon ET. The total is listed in the 42.5-43.5 range.
Let’s start with the basics of the 2022 USFL league.
A total of eight teams will be competing this season, broken up into two divisions of four squads.
Here are the two divisions
- Birmingham Stallions
- Houston Gamblers
- New Orleans Breakers
- Tampa Bay Bandits
- Michigan Panthers
- New Jersey Generals
- Philadelphia Stars
- Pittsburgh Maulers
All USFL teams will carry a 38-man active roster, plus a seven-man practice squad, and players will receive base compensation and be eligible for victory bonuses.
Each team will play a 10-game schedule. Division opponents play each other twice, and then each non-divisional opponent once.
The top two teams in each division advance to the playoffs, which will consist of two semifinals and a championship.
The season begins this weekend and will conclude in July.
All games are going to be held in Birmingham, Ala. at Protective Stadium or Legion Field. The playoffs will be held in Canton, Ohio at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
Games will air on FOX, FS1, NBC, USA and Peacock. Michigan’s opener with the Gamblers will air live on NBC.
Unique rules in the USFL
While the USFL will have a pretty similar style to most any type of American football, it also is trying to bring some unique differences to its league.
- 3-point conversion: Along with the standard extra point and 2-point option, the USFL teams can go for 3 points after a TD by attempting to score from the 10-yard line.
- Onside kick alternative: Scoring teams can attempt to keep the ball if they convert a 4th-and-12 from their own 33-yard line.
- Overtime: Teams will rotate 2-point attempt tries for three rounds. If the score is still tied from there, it becomes sudden death each round.
- Pass interference: If it’s an intentional tackle by a defender over 15 yards from the line of scrimmage, it’s a spot foul. Otherwise, it’s similar to NCAA rules, which is a spot foul under 15 yards and a full 15-yard penalty beyond that point.
- Clock stoppage: The clock will stop on first downs when there are less than two minutes remaining in the second and fourth quarters.
- Play clock: Play clocks will be 35 seconds as opposed to 40 in the NFL.
- Replay challenges: Each coach gets one crack at a replay challenge which is then reviewed by the USFL Replay Command in Los Angeles.
- Forward passes: From behind the line of scrimmage, it’s legal to throw two forward passes on a single play.
- Kickoffs: Once the ball travels 20 yards, the receiving team must make the first touch. The receiving team will possess untouched kicks that are ruled dead at the spot of the ball. Kickoffs take place at the 25-yard line and all of the kicking team’s personnel must be lined up no more than a yard back to avoid a running start. Receiving teams must have eight of their blockers between the 35-and-45-yard lines.
- Punts: Gunners can’t be double-team blocked until the ball is kicked, and they can’t line up outside the numbers.
All of the rule changes are intended to create a safer game, but also a more up-tempo and offensively creative style of football.