It’s been a long winter, spring and summer without NFL football, but finally, the NFL is back on Thursday night! Yes, it’s only the preseason but beggars can’t be choosers. The Dallas Cowboys find themselves as a 1-point favorite over the Arizona Cardinals with a total of 35, and although NFL preseason games can be a bit challenging to handicap, some historic numbers might be helpful to bettors looking to get in on some Hall of Fame Game betting action.
In a game filled with players who won’t even be on an NFL roster come the regular season, I like to zero in on the head coaches to try to determine what their approach is to the preseason. Actually winning games appears to be very low on the list of priorities for Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett as the Cowboys are on a 2-11 SU slide in the preseason, covering the spread in just four of those games. Of note during their preseason run of inadequacy is that eight of those 11 losses were by 10 points or more.
Bruce Arians has also come out on the losing side more often than not, but not at the same rate as Garrett. Arians is 7-9 SU in his career in the preseason, but has fared a bit better against the spread, going 8-7-1.
A total of 35 might appear to be a bit on the low side, but low scoring has become the norm in Hall of Fame games. The last five games have seen an average total of just 28.2 points while the last 20 have seen an average total of 34.4 points. That said, I’ll be placing my bet on the OVER. Dallas preseason games last season saw an average total of 49 points, while Arizona had an average of 44 points. I’d never recommend placing bets solely on trends but with so much unknown regarding personnel, I’ll take any edge I can find.
Here’s a list of recent Hall of Fame Game results:
*2016’s game was canceled due to unsafe playing conditions.
The Minnesota Vikings are small favorites against the Pittsburgh Steelers on the NFL betting lines at the sportsbooks for Sunday night as the league’s 2015 preseason slate gets underway with the Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
The oddsmakers have the Vikings set as consensus 3.5-point favorites against the Steelers for Sunday night, with the OVER/UNDER for the contest pegged at 34.5 points. Last year the New York Giants beat the Buffalo Bills 17-13 in the Hall of Fame Game, with the Bills closing as a 3-point favorite in a contest that was an UNDER result.
The Steelers are coming off an 11-5 campaign in which they won the AFC North division title but fell to the rival Baltimore Ravens 30-17 on Wild Card Weekend. For the upcoming season the Steelers are at +180 at Sportsbook to win the AFC North title again, at +1100 to win the AFC Championship Game, and at +2000 to win Super Bowl 50.
The Vikings went just 7-9 last season with star running back Adrian Peterson missing the bulk of the campaign due to a suspension. With Peterson back for the year ahead the Vikings are at +600 at Sportsbook to win the NFC North title, at +2200 to win the NFC Championship Game, and at +4000 to win Super Bowl 50.
Pittsburgh went 1-3 both SU and ATS in its four preseason games last year, with the OVER/UNDER going 1-3 as well in those contests. Minnesota went a perfect 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS in its four preseason games last year, with the OVER/UNDER going 1-3 in those contests.
The Steelers last faced the Vikings in the preseason back in 2008, winning 12-10 as a 3-point favorite to get tagged with the ATS defeat; since 2001 Pittsburgh is 2-2 SU but 0-4 ATS against Minnesota in the preseason, with the OVER/UNDER going 0-4 for totals bettors.
The NFL's 2014 preseason schedule begins on Sunday night with the Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, with the oddsmakers at Sportsbook setting the line for the matchup between the New York Giants and the Buffalo Bills at -2.5 points, after Sportsbook as a pick'em (with the total at 32.5) heading into the week.
Both the Giants and the Bills missed the playoffs last season, with New York going 7-9 both SU and ATS to end up in third place in the NFC East, and Buffalo going 6-10 SU and 8-8 ATS to end up in fourth place in the AFC East.
And the oddsmakers don't have either team favored to climb to the top of their respective division standings this upcoming season, with the Giants at +300 at Sportsbook on the NFL odds to win the NFC East (behind the +130 Eagles), and the Bills the +850 longshots at the sportsbook to win the AFC East.
Buffalo is also at 40/1 odds to win the AFC at Sportsbook and at 75/1 odds to win the Super Bowl. New York sits at 25/1 odds to win the NFC and at 40/1 odds to win the Super Bowl.
The Bills went 2-2 both SU and ATS in the preseason last year, with the OVER/UNDER going 2-2 for totals bettors in those contests. The Giants went just 1-3 both SU and ATS in the preseason last year, with the OVER/UNDER going 2-2.
Overall Buffalo is 5-4 SU and 3-5-1 ATS on the NFL betting trends in its last 10 games against New York dating all the way back to 1987, with the two teams last meeting in October 2011 when the Giants won 27-24 as a 3-point home favorite on the NFL odds. That game was an OVER result.
Kickoff for the Hall of Fame Game betting matchup at Fawcett Stadium is set for 8:00pm ET on Sunday night. The NFL's preseason schedule then gets underway in earnest on Thursday, August 7 with six games - Indianapolis at the Jets, New England at Washington, San Francisco at Baltimore, Cincinnati at Kansas City, Seattle at Denver, and Dallas at San Diego.
On Friday, August 8 it's Miami at Atlanta, Buffalo at Carolina, Tampa Bay at Jacksonville, Oakland at Minnesota, Philadelphia at Chicago, and New Orleans at St. Louis in preseason NFL betting action at the sportsbooks. Saturday, August 9 then has Cleveland at Detroit, Pittsburgh at the Giants, Green Bay at Tennessee, and Houston at Arizona.