Football bettors rejoice as the NFL returns with the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio Sunday. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings face off and will look to get their seasons off on the right foot with the Steelers failing to get past the Wild Card round since 2010-11 and the Vikings not making the postseason since 2012.
The Steelers lost in the Wild Card round against the Baltimore Ravens last season when the team Pittsburgh offensive line allowed Ben Roethlisberger to be sacked five times. The Vikings are coming off a year full of controversy with the circus that was Adrian Peterson’s legal issues, but found a gem in Teddy Bridgewater. The former Louisville signal-caller finished the season leading all rookie quarterbacks in yards per game and quarterback rating.
LINE HISTORY: Various books opened the game with the Vikings favored by 2.5-points, but that line has majorly shifted to -3.5. The total has never really moved off the originally set 34.5.
INJURY REPORT: Steelers – T Mike Adams (Out-Back), CB Senquez Golson (Out-Shoulder) Vikings – LB Casey Matthews (Out-Hip)
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “NFL teams go about preseason games in different ways. Some teams will just go thru the motions, and others actually use the games to prepare them for the regular season. It all depends on the coach’s philosophy. Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin: “We don’t prepare a lot for the first game whether it’s the Hall of Fame Game or our first preseason game. We kind of play rules football and don’t spend a lot of time from a game standpoint. We don’t spend a lot of time focusing on our opponents the first time out.”
Minnesota’s situation is different. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was away from the team for some time; he was taking care of his sick father. Upon return, Zimmer had this to say about the Hall of Fame Game: “We want to be crisp, we want to look sharp and I want to see the things we’ve been practicing being taken to the game field.” Because of the above information, the Vikings have gone from a 2-point favorite up to a 3.5-point favorite.” – Covers Expert Steve Merril
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “10 days ago we had this Hall of Fame matchup between the Steelers and the Vikings at Vikings -3 with a total of 34.5, now the line currently sits at Vikings -3.5 with 67 percent of the action to cover that number and the total is up to 35 with 71 percent of the action on the over.” – Michael Stewart of Carbonsports.ag
HOT FAN WAR:
ABOUT THE STEELERS: It is hard to look at this game too seriously for the Steelers as almost their entire starting offense will be sitting this one out. QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Antonio Brown, TE Heath Miller, C Maurkice Pouncey and LB James Harrison are among the players sitting out the game against the Minnesota Vikings. Landry Jones, who has reportedly been very productive in training camp, will see the significant amount of snaps from under center. There is also expectation that CB Brandon Boykin will see plenty of action since he was recently acquired from the Eagles and has told the coaches to ‘throw me in whenever.’
Expect the Steelers defense to show some creative looks throughout the preseason with new defensive coordinator Keith Butler in charge. There could be a lot of misdirections and Butler will try to get one-on-one matchups for his defensive ends.
ABOUT THE VIKINGS: Even though Teddy Bridgewater missed Friday’s walk-through due to family matters, he is expected to get the start for the Vikings. In last year’s preseason Bridgewater threw five touchdowns with no interceptions and a QB rating of 111.2. There has been no official word on whether or not we will see Adrian Peterson enter the game for the Vikings, but coach Mike ZImmer said the lineup will depend on his “mood.”
The Vikings defense was far from perfect last season, which led the organization to fo defense-heavy in this years draft. The top three picks by the team (Trae Waynes, Eric Kendricks, Danielle Hunter) are all defensive players who will likely see some significant time this preseason. Especially Kendricks as Anthony Barr has been dealing with some lingering injury issues in camp.
*NFC teams are 9-2 SU and 8-2-1 ATS versus AFC teams in contests in Canton.
*Eight of the last 11 Hall of Fame Games have played Over with a total of 35 or less points.
*The Steelers are 2-9-1 ATS in the past three preseasons.
*The Vikings went 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS last preseason.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 51 percent of Covers users are taking the Vikings with 55 percent on the over.