The Michigan Panthers entered last week’s game against the Philadelphia Stars among three teams at 3-6, tied for second and last place in the North Division.
A week later, after knocking the Stars off in a 23-20 thriller, the Panthers find themselves playing for a chance to go to the USFL championship game.
At 8 p.m. Saturday in Canton, Ohio, the Panthers will take on the Pittsburgh Maulers, also 4-6. While the teams’ records scream of mediocrity at best, one of them will be sticking around the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to represent the North Division in the USFL championship game on July 1. (They’ll play the winner of Sunday’s South Division game between the Birmingham Stallions and New Orleans Breakers.)
On the field
On paper, the Panthers-Maulers matchup sets up as (choose one) a defensive battle or a battle of offensive ineptitude, as the teams rank last (Panthers) and next-to-last (Maulers) in points scored on the year.
Worth noting: In the teams’ two games against each other this year, the totals didn’t even sniff 38 — one ended at 26, the other at 30.
Also notable: The Maulers dominated both games, winning the first 23-7 and the second — played two weeks ago — 19-7.
Predictably, the Panthers are the underdogs here, getting three points everywhere at -110, or 3.5 points at BetRivers at -115.
Complicating matters is the question of who will be lining up behind center for the Panthers. Josh Love was the starting quarterback for the first nine games of the season, but he was listed as a surprise inactive ahead of last week’s game against the Stars.
Former Brown University quarterback E.J. Perry got the nod as starter and scored what proved to be the game-winning touchdown after he fumbled a snap from center, picked it up, and ran it in for the score.
Outside of that, he was … not spectacular, throwing for 121 yards on 12-of-23 passing with no touchdowns or interceptions.
The Panthers have yet to name the starter for Saturday’s game.
Among the four contending teams, the Panthers have the longest odds to win the USFL championship, at +600 at DraftKings.
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