It’s been a minute since a professional sports franchise in Michigan has been the odds-on favorite to win a championship, but that’s exactly the case for the Michigan Panthers of the USFL.
The fledgling franchise in the fledgling league is listed as the +450 favorite at PointsBet to win the inaugural championship for the new version of the USFL. PointsBet is the first sportsbook to post odds on that market, and it is keeping it tight, as the longest odds to hoist the trophy go all the way up to … +650, with four teams fighting for that honor.
But the Panthers — and their coach, Jeff Fisher — are all alone at the top of the odds board, ahead of the Tampa Bay Bandits and New Orleans Breakers, both at +550.
As to the why? Well, it probably begins and ends in the quarterback room, with the Panthers drafting former University of Michigan product Shea Patterson with the No. 1 pick and then snagging former Denver Broncos first round pick Paxton Lynch later in the draft.
This time last week, we got the guy to lead the pack 🐾 #USFLDraft pic.twitter.com/hjFJy1njKR
— Michigan Panthers (@USFLPanthers) March 2, 2022
Also helping the Panthers’ cause? Former University of Oklahoma wideout Jeff Badet, who flashed a 4.27 40-yard dash time during his time in college. Badet also started for the Dallas Renegades of the XFL — where he was the fourth overall skills position pick — before the league folded for a second time. Badet has seen time in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, and Las Vegas Raiders.
Wideouts and running backs
The Panthers boast two other wide receivers with some NFL pedigree — Quincy Adeboyejo, who played with the Baltimore Ravens, and Lance Lenoir, who was with the Dallas Cowboys. The running backs for the Panthers — Reggie Corbin and Stevie Scott — also flashed during their time at the University of Illinois and Indiana, respectively.
“They have a great group of talent, highlighted by some NFL-caliber players on offense and Super Bowl-winning coach Jeff Fisher at the helm,” said Mike Korn, a PointsBet analyst.
Ah yes, Fisher, perhaps the biggest strength for the Panthers. He spent 20 years as an NFL head coach, and that alone might have put the Panthers over the top as the betting favorite at PointsBet.
But just because the Panthers are at the top o’ the heap today …
“That all being said, given the uncertainty and newness of the USFL, our traders will be quick to move these futures once the season kicks off,” Korn said. “With more data coming in throughout the season, we’ll be able to better understand/price markets for the USFL.”
The Panthers kick off the 10-game season — all games will be played in Birmingham, Alabama for the inaugural run — on Sunday, April 17, against the Houston Gamblers.