The Houston Gamblers and Michigan Panthers make their USFL debuts this weekend. The two sides kick off the Sunday slate at 12 PM ET and will be looking to impress on opening weekend. What are the odds and predictions for the Gamblers at Panthers in Week 1?
Houston Gamblers vs. Michigan Panthers pick and prediction | Week 1 USFL
What do the Gamblers and Panthers bring into their Week 1 matchup?
The Gamblers are led by head coach and GM Kevin Sumlin, who spent 13 years as a head coach in college football. Sumlin spent three years at Houston, followed by a six-year tenure at Texas A&M and another three years at Arizona. His next challenge will see him take on the USFL with the Gamblers.
Gamblers quarterback Kenji Bahar played college football for the Monmouth Hawks and will look to earn the starting job for Houston. The second QB, Clayton Thorson, played college football at Northwestern, starting for four seasons and throwing 61 touchdowns during his time with the Wildcats. Thorson also spent time on practice squads with the Eagles, Giants, and Cowboys between 2019 and 2021.
Outside linebacker Donald Payne spent five years around the NFL and was the first player to play in the NFL out of Stetson University. The 27-year-old is a talent to keep an eye on in the USFL.
Michigan hosts two of the most notable names at quarterback in the USFL. Former Michigan Wolverine Shea Patterson features on the roster, and local fans will be rooting for him after his time in Ann Arbor.
Fans will remember the other QB, Paxton Lynch, from his years in the NFL. The Denver Broncos drafted Lynch in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Of course, things didn’t quite work out, and Lynch only spent two years in Denver before short spells with the Seahawks and the Steelers.
Lynch moved on to the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL in 2021 before signing up for the USFL. He is the only quarterback on a USFL roster who has started a game in the NFL. Lynch was the last of the 16 QBs selected.
Jeff Fisher is the head coach of the Panthers. He has been coaching since the 1990s, including long spells in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans and the Los Angeles Rams.
Wide receiver Jeff Badet had two spells in the NFL. In 2018, he signed with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent, spending two years there before being released. He then signed up for the XFL and played for the Dallas Renegades before returning to the NFL. He bounced around practice squads with the Falcons, Washington Football Team, and Las Vegas Raiders. Badet will be looking to make an impression with the Panthers.
Pick and Prediction
I’ll take the Panthers on this one. Patterson is one of the most impressive QBs across the USFL. While he might not have been good enough for the NFL, he could do great things here.
Gamblers at Panthers Score Prediction: Panthers 37, Gamblers 21