USFL 2022: Playoff Predictions for Case Cookus, Kavontae Turpin and Top Players

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxCorrespondent IJune 24, 2022

USFL 2022: Playoff Predictions for Case Cookus, Kavontae Turpin and Top Players

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    Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The inaugural season of the new United States Football League hasn't generated a ton of media attention, but the startup spring league has succeeded where the XFL and AAF could not. It completed its first regular season.

    This Saturday, the USFL's four top teams will compete for a spot in the championship game. The playoffs will provide a great opportunity for fans new to the USFL to see what the league has to offer. It will also provide another chance for top stars like Case Cookus, Kyle Sloter, Kavontae Turpin and Victor Bolden Jr. to showcase their talents for NFL teams.

    The USFL is, after all, a developmental spring league designed to give NFL hopefuls new opportunities. The latest opportunity is a shot at the USFL championship.

    Below, you'll find all the information you need to catch Saturday's action, including scheduling information, game previews and predictions.

USFL Playoffs 2022

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    Buda Mendes/USFL/Getty Images

    Saturday, June 25

    Philadelphia Stars vs. New Jersey Generals

    Time: 3 p.m. ET

    Line, Over/Under: New Jersey -4.5, 47.5

    TV and Live Stream: Fox, Fox Sports App

    New Orleans Breakers vs. Birmingham Stallions

    Time: 8 p.m. ET

    Line, Over/Under: Birmingham -5, 44.5

    TV and Live Stream: NBC, NBC Sports App, Peacock

    Championship Game: Sunday, July 3 at 7:30 p.m. ET on Fox

    *Odds via FanDuel

Philadelphia Stars vs. New Jersey Generals

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    Alex Bierens de Haan/USFL/Getty Images

    This will be a rematch of last week's game, which saw the New Jersey Generals escape with a 26-23 victory over the Philadelphia Stars. Though it was a largely meaningless game for both squads, most of the starters did play.

    The Generals are the early favorite here, and that's no surprise. Along with the Birmingham Stallions, the Generals hold a league-best 9-1 record.

    However, Philadelphia has a legitimate chance to pull off the upset, thanks in no small part to Cookus' emergence as one of the USFL's top signal-callers.

    Despite making only six starts, Cookus ranks fourth in passing and tied for second in the USFL with 12 touchdown passes. As a team, the Stars lead the league with 12 touchdown passes.

    However, the Generals defense—led by All-USFL lineman Toby Johnson and safety Shalom Luani will pose a difficult challenge. New Jersey hasn't lost since the season-opener against Birmingham and has only surrendered more than 23 points once since then.

    New Jersey is a formidable offensive team, too, led by league MVP and wide receiver Turpin. The former TCU star was dismissed from the program after his arrest on a charge of assault on a family member with bodily harm and went undrafted in the NFL. However, he's a legitimate difference-maker who has found chemistry with quarterbacks De'Andre Johnson and Luis Perez.

    Should this game somehow devolve into a shootout, Cookus and the Stars may have the edge. That's unlikely to happen, though, as the Generals are a balanced team that knows how to grind out games.

    Prediction: New Jersey 25, Philadelphia 21

New Orleans Breakers vs. Birmingham Stallions

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    Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Stallions have lost only once this season, a fluky 17-15 outing against the Houston Gamblers in Week 9. They're a solid, well-balanced team that has also held the only true home-field advantage in the USFL (most games have been played at Protective Stadium in Birmingham).

    However, the New Orleans Breakers won't let the Stallions waltz into the title game. New Orleans boasts three All-USFL players on offense: quarterback Kyle Sloter, center Jared Thomas and tight end Sal Cannella.

    New Orleans is potent enough offensively to steal this one if given the opportunity.

    However, Birmingham's stout defense may prevent that opportunity from arising. Led by All-USFL linebacker DeMarquis Gates and fellow standout Scooby Wright III, the Stallions defense is a force. It hasn't allowed a team to top 20 points since Week 2.

    The Breakers got a firsthand look at Birmingham's defense during a 10-9 loss in Week 8.

    The Stallions have also remained laser-focused on winning a championship, despite cruising through the competition in the regular season.

    "I think the biggest thing that we've done is just attack the week as 1-0, and that's kind of helped us just to create momentum—having us not get too far [ahead] and just staying focused on each week and make sure we execute that," Wright said in early June, per NBC Sports' Chris Estrada.

    Expect Birmingham to keep its collective eyes on the title here, forcing Sloter into enough mistakes to win another low-scoring contest. Sloter was mostly good during the regular season but ranked second with 11 interceptions.

    This should be another close one, but the Stallions will come out on top once again.

    Prediction: Birmingham 17, New Orleans 13

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