The Tampa Bay Bandits take on the Pittsburgh Maulers during the USFL‘s opening weekend, hoping to extend the excitement of opening night between the Stallions and the Generals. The Birmingham Stallions stole a last-minute win in front of a home crowd on Saturday night. What are the odds and predictions for the Bandits at Maulers in Week 1?
Tampa Bay Bandits vs. Pittsburgh Maulers pick and prediction | Week 1 USFL
- Spread: Bandits -5
- Moneyline: Bandits -220, Maulers +180
- Over/Under: 40.5
The Tampa Bay Bandits boast an interesting roster, starting with the quarterback room.
QB Jordan Ta’amu has been on quite the journey. Ta’amu played for Ole Miss and took over as the starter when fellow USFL QB Shea Patterson got hurt. Patterson transferred to Michigan, and Ta’amu took over the starting role full-time. In his senior year, he was second in SEC passing yards only to Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama.
He signed as a free agent with the Houston Texans in 2019 before moving to the XFL. Ta’amu was the starting QB for the St. Louis Battlehawks and did enough to re-sign in the NFL after the XFL folded. Ta’amu then spent time with the Chiefs, Lions, Panthers, and Washington. He was drafted second overall in the USFL Draft by the Bandits.
The Bandits roster also includes the highly touted safety Obi Melifonwu. The Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raiders drafted Melifonwu in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. However, hip surgery cut his tenure short. He was then a part of the New England Patriots’ roster that beat the LA Rams in Super Bowl 53. Melifonwu bounced around multiple organizations, but ultimately injury issues cost him his pro career. Nevertheless, he could be a star in the USFL. The Lions drafted his younger brother, Ifeatu, in 2021.
Remember WR Vinny Papale? His father, Vince Papale, is the man famously known for signing with the Philadelphia Eagles. His story is captured by the Mark Wahlberg movie ‘Invincible.’
And John Franklin III, who you’ll recognize from the popular TV series Last Chance U, is on the Bandits’ practice squad.
The Maulers are led by QB Kyle Lauletta, who the New York Giants drafted in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Lauletta threw professional passes in just one game, coming in for Eli Manning in a blowout win against Washington. Lauletta finished that game with 0 completions, 1 interception, and a passer rating of 0.0.
He’ll be looking to prove himself in the USFL after spending time with five different NFL teams. Lauletta was the seventh overall pick of the USFL Draft and the first pick for the Maulers.
Kirby Wilson leads the Maulers, who was a well-respected running backs coach in the NFL for more than 20 years, including a long stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pick and Prediction
This Bandits roster looks loaded to me. I think Ta’amu is one of the better QBs drafted in the USFL, and there’ll be room for him to showcase his talents in this game. We saw some offensive line struggles on opening night, as the rosters have not yet had much time together. Ta’amu can escape a pocket and take off if he needs to. That should serve him well.
I’ll take Ta’amu and the Bandits in this one, and I want to see Vinny Papale go for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns…
Bandits at Maulers Score Prediction: Bandits 42, Maulers 24