The 2018 NFL preseason schedule kicks off Thursday as the Baltimore Ravens take on the Chicago Bears in the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game as 2.5-point favorites on the NFL odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
With regulars likely to see little to no action in Thursday night’s Bears vs. Ravens betting matchup at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, fans of these two teams can expect to get a long look at many of the youngsters vying for jobs, including 2016 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Selected by the Ravens with the final pick in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft following an impressive three-year collegiate career with the Louisville Cardinals, Jackson will be aiming to prove he is NFL ready; he’s a +2000 bet on the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year odds.
However, the 21-year-old rookie could face stiff competition for the team’s backup job in camp from oft-injured veteran Robert Griffin III, who is looking to resurrect his career in Baltimore after making just 12 starts since the start of the 2014 season.
With Joe Flacco at the helm, the Ravens have failed to reach the postseason in each of the past three years. Winners of nine games a season ago, Baltimore is a -145 wager to go OVER 8.0 victories in 2018 on the 2018 NFL win totals, but the Ravens sit well behind the Pittsburgh Steelers with +400 odds to win the AFC North, and sport -165 odds of seeing their playoff drought extended to four years.
After going 5-11 in 2017, the Bears now have failed to reach the .500 mark in four straight campaigns and have not played any playoff football since reaching the NFC Championship Game back in January 2011.
Marginal improvement is expected in 2018, with the squad pegged as a -135 bet to win OVER 6.5 games, but with the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers once again expected to dominate in the NFC North, the Bears trail as distant +700 longshots on the divisional odds, and are a -700 wager to miss the playoffs yet again.
There are reasons for long-suffering Bears fans to be hopeful entering the upcoming NFL season, though, most notably quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who showed steady progress in his rookie campaign despite throwing for just seven touchdown passes.
The 23-year-old hopes to build on an impressive 3,748-yard, 30-touchdown performance in his final year with North Carolina in 2016, but with the Bears expected to field an unproven receiving corps, Trubisky trails as a distant +10000 wager to lead the NFL in passing yards.
Thumbnail photo via Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports