UFL 2024 Semifinals Odds & Picks: Expect a Stallions-Battlehawks Rematch?

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John Lovett #7 of the San Antonio Brahmas is hit by Davin Bellamy #7 and Malik Fisher #92 of the DC Defenders during the first quarter at Alamodome on March 31, 2024 in San Antonio, Texas. Matthew Stockman/UFL/Getty Images/AFPMATTHEW STOCKMAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The 2024 UFL season has reached the playoffs with a pair of conference championship games this weekend that are rematches of games from last Saturday. But this time, the teams know the season is on the line.

The Birmingham Stallions (9-1) and St. Louis Battlehawks (7-3) have been the best teams all year and the winners of their respective conferences, but we’ll see if they can get by some improved Michigan and San Antonio teams to have a rematch in the UFL Championship Game next week.

If it wasn’t for a pair of missed 50-yard field goals last week, the Panthers and Brahmas would have been walking into this weekend with wins over the consensus-best teams in the UFL. Let’s hope these games can live up to that kind of close finish for the playoffs.

We made our spread picks for the conference championship games below.

Top UFL Pick: Brahmas +3 (-110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Brahmas +3 (-110)
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Michigan Panthers vs. Birmingham Stallions

Saturday, June 08, 2024 – 03:00 PM ET at Protective Stadium

The Stallions (9-1) are seeking a 3rd-straight championship under coach Skip Holtz. But is the offense sputtering at the worst time? The Stallions have only scored 29 points in the last 2 games.

The Panthers (7-3) blew a 10-point lead against Birmingham last week and blew a 6-point lead in the final minutes in a 20-19 loss. They have played the Stallions tougher than most, so we’ll see if that continues for another game.

Birmingham is a 5-point home favorite with a total of 43 points at top-rated sportsbooks.

Panthers Suffer Big Injury in Week 10

The Panthers’ dream of playing their best quarterback in this game is over after Bryce Perkins was placed on injured reserve following a hit in last week’s loss to Birmingham. Perkins only threw 1 pass in the game and was the team’s leading rusher with 3 carries for 37 yards.

Not to say we warned Michigan of protecting Perkins for the playoffs, but we did write this in last week’s picks:

“Should they purposely play Etling and sparingly use Perkins, or not even play him at all, to give themselves an edge by not showing their hand early? Then they can play Perkins for the whole playoff game.”

That possibility is gone now as Perkins’ season is over. It will either be Danny Etling or E.J. Perry at quarterback for Michigan. Etling did some good things to give the team a 10-point lead last week but he’s not as good of a dual threat as Perkins. Perry struggled earlier this season with taking sacks and isn’t a lock to play even as the Panthers have been going with a 2-quarterback offense as of late.

Michigan finished the season with 1,253 rushing yards, the only team close to Birmingham (1,347) in that regard. But losing that extra dimension at quarterback is a tough blow as the Birmingham defense is still one of the best in the UFL.

The Stallions finished No. 2 in both yards and points allowed this season. The defense also led the league with 17 takeaways.

Can the Panthers Keep It Close on Defense?

If the Panthers are going to pull off the upset, it will have to be with the defense leading the way. Fortunately, the Panthers have held Birmingham to 20 points twice this year.

Michigan lost 20-13 in Week 2 and then lost 20-19 in Week 10 against Birmingham. That’s solid work given how well Birmingham usually scores points, especially when Adrian Martinez is at quarterback as he was for the full game last week.

Martinez led another 4th-quarter comeback as the Stallions have struggled to put teams away early in the last month. Birmingham has failed to cover a 5-point spread in 3-of-4 games coming into the playoffs.

While Martinez threw a game-winning touchdown last week, he was only 14-of-28 for 163 yards through the air while rushing for 41 yards. His legs are dangerous, but if the Panthers can hold him to barely 200 total yards, they will give themselves a chance to win this one.

These defenses are very close statistically for the season:

  • Birmingham allows 18 points per game and Michigan allows 19 points per game.
  • Birmingham allows 259.5 yards per game and Michigan allows 263.1 yards per game.
  • Birmingham had 29 sacks on 322 pass attempts and Michigan had 30 sacks on 320 pass attempts.

Etling rushed for 36 yards and a touchdown last week. If the Panthers can run the ball and play great defense, they’ll have a shot to cover or do better here.

The Pick

If the Panthers had made a 53-yard field goal in the final seconds against Birmingham last week, they would have won that game. That was the team’s only loss in the last 6 games.

It is very tempting to pick the Panthers against the spread here, especially with the way the defense has held down the Birmingham offense, which lost its left tackle for the year with an injury last week.

The loss of Perkins is a tough one, but we are going to back the underdog to cover the spread for your UFL picks. Let’s root for a close and exciting game here.

UFL Pick: Panthers +5 (-110) at Bovada

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San Antonio Brahmas vs. St. Louis Battlehawks

Sunday, June 09, 2024 – 07:00 PM ET at The Dome at America’s Center

The Battlehawks are hosting this game as winners of the XFL conference after narrowly avoiding a loss to San Antonio last week in a 13-12 final. We’ll see if head coach Wade Phillips has an upset left in him against A.J. McCarron and the Battlehawks.

St. Louis is a 3-point home favorite with a total of 43.5 points.

McCarron Struggles in Return

After missing 2 games with a leg injury, quarterback A.J. McCarron returned to action in Week 10 to face the Brahmas’ No. 1 defense with home-field advantage in this game on the line.

The good news is McCarron finished the game and only took a couple of sacks from the best defense at generating sacks this year. The bad news is the St. Louis offense scored 13 points, was held to 199 yards, and McCarron was just 10-of-24 for 115 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. St. Louis was 2-for-12 on 3rd down.

That kind of offensive effort is usually not going to get the job done. It is true that San Antonio has improved on defense under Phillips as the season has gone on. However, even when these teams met in Week 3, a 31-24 win by St. Louis, the pass defense held McCarron to 152 yards passing when he was healthier.

This defense can hold its own against McCarron, who only averaged 6.2 yards per pass attempt this season. His efficiency is more about avoiding turnovers and sacks and making money plays on 3rd down and in the 4th quarter. But the Brahmas have the defense to hold him down on the scoreboard.

Again, Who Plays Quarterback for San Antonio?

The Brahmas had this dilemma last week when we weren’t sure which quarterback was going to start. Chase Garbers got the call, but he struggled (5 -of-11 for 40 yards and a pick) before leaving with an injury.

Quinten Dormady, who has generally been the better passer this year, led a rally attempt that just came up short when the Brahmas missed a go-ahead 2-point conversion, then they missed a 51-yard field goal in the closing seconds that would have won the game. Dormady finished 15-of-27 for 188 yards and a touchdown off the bench.

Now the Brahmas are saying they will wait until the weekend to name a starter for this game. It probably should be Dormady as Garbers has struggled against the Battlehawks, who rank No. 1 in yards per pass allowed this year. San Antonio is No. 2 in that stat, so this game needs a quarterback who can make some big plays and break this tough defense down. Dormady is the better choice for that.

The Pick

The Brahmas have covered a 3-point spread in 8-of-10 games this season. Conversely, the Battlehawks have only done that in 5-of-10 games this year.

With McCarron perhaps still not 100%, the strength of San Antonio’s defense, and the possibility they play their best quarterback in Dormady, we are going to back the underdog in this matchup as well.

Everything was pointing to a Stallions vs. Battlehawks rematch in the championship game, but there are enough cracks in the armor for those teams and enough defense from the Panthers and Brahmas to think at least one of those teams will not make it to next week after all.

UFL Pick: Brahmas +3 (-110) at Bovada

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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.