USFL Week 6 Power Rankings: Stallions, Generals on top
By RJ Young
FOX Sports Writer
However, the New Jersey Generals are riding a five-game winning streak, while there’s a tremendous fight between the Tampa Bay Bandits and New Orleans Breakers in the South Division for the second playoff spot.
It’s still all there to play for as we enter Week 7. No one knows that better than Bart Andrus, who felt fortunate to leave Saturday with a win against the Bandits.
"Our fight is with ourselves and three other teams [in the North Division] right now," he said. "We just want to go week-to-week and take on whatever opponent we’re playing, put together four quarters and then put ourselves in a position so that at the 10-week mark we can be 0-0 heading into the next week."
Now, let’s get to our power rankings through Week 6.
1. Birmingham Stallions
The Stallions unleashed former Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough against the Panthers last week, and he finished with 105 rushing yards on 16 carries.
Despite a substandard game from quarterback J’Mar Smith — who earned the start for Birmingham — the Stallions found enough offense and defense to begin the second half of the season right where they left off the first: undefeated.
At 6-0, they're two games clear of their closest rival in the South Division (Breakers) and a full game ahead of their closest rival in the North Division (Generals) — and hold wins over both.
2. New Jersey Generals
Mike Riley's Generals are riding a five-game winning streak into their Week 7 matchup, though the Houston Gamblers made them work for their narrow 26-25 win on Sunday.
The Stallions put together a 10-minute, 28-second drive to finish the Stars in Week 5. The Breakers put together an 18-play, 94-yard drive that ate up nine minutes and 21 seconds of the first quarter against the Maulers. But the Generals outdid them both with a 23-play 95-yard drive that ate up the entire third quarter.
The Generals have not only taken ownership of the No. 2 spot in the rankings but look like the team most likely to give the Stallions a sincere challenge for the title with just a month left in the regular season.
3. New Orleans Breakers
The return of offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone seemed to help the Breakers find their rhythm at line-of-scrimmage after Week 5’s fits-and-starts in their loss to the Generals.
The Breakers' Anthony Jones was a revelation at a moment when Jordan Ellis just didn't have the same mojo we've seen from him in weeks past.
Jerod Fernandez continued to play like a USFL All-Star. He made 11 tackles to lead New Orleans past Pittsburgh on Sunday.
4. Philadelphia Stars
Star linebacker Jordan Moore decided to show everyone what SEC speed is against Tampa. Moore — a former Big 12 and SEC 110-meter hurdles champion — ran down Rashard Davis from behind just inside the 10-yard line.
The Stars also received 140 rushing yards from running back Matt Colburn — the third-best total in the league this season — on a team that had been worst in the USFL in rush yards per game (65) prior to its win against Tampa.
Without Star quarterback Bryan Scott for the third week in a row, the Stars are maintaining their possession of the second spot in the USFL playoff race in the North Division.
5. Tampa Bay Bandits
Jordan Ta’amu put together one of the best passing displays of the season, passing for over 300 yards with four TDs and just one interception as the Bandits fell just five yards shy of a chance to take the Stars to overtime.
If the Bandits can limit turnovers and continue to get outstanding play from their secondary and wide receivers, there’s no reason to believe they can’t contend in the South Division for a playoff spot.
6. Michigan Panthers
Jeff Fisher opted to kick an extra point when he probably should've gone for the three-point conversion — his decision to allow the Stallions to hold the ball with a lead instead of forcing them to play under pressure was perhaps not the best move.
Still, his offense acquitted itself well, though there’s little solace in that with time running out to fight for the second playoff spot in the North Division.
Shea Patterson has averaged better than 250 yards passing over his last two starts and finally looks like he’s settled into being the Panthers’ starter for the remainder of the season.
7. Pittsburgh Maulers
The Maulers couldn't find an answer to stop the Breakers from running, but they could find one for stopping the league’s leading passer — quarterback Kyle Sloter was held to just 92 passing yards on 21 attempts.
The Maulers' defense has been their strength since Week 1. With Vad Lee solidifying himself as not just the Maulers’ starting quarterback but as a capable threat in the run game, coach Kirby Wilson will hope his team begins to string together wins with time running out on their season.
The Maulers will look to emulate the Generals: Holding the ball, running the ball and playing opportunistic defense with the hope of joining them in the playoffs in the last week of June.
8. Houston Gamblers
A normally opportunistic defense that's been great at creating turnovers was stymied by an offense that chose to flex on them.
Donald Payne is still a tackling machine — he had 18 on Sunday and has two sacks and 76 tackles this season.
Payne has more tackles (76) than Thorson has scored points (66), and Thorson leads the league in points responsible for (66, with 10 passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown).
RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast "The No. 1 Ranked Show with RJ Young." Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young, and subscribe to "The RJ Young Show" on YouTube. He is not on a StepMill.