For the first time since Super Bowl LV, you can bet on an NFL football game Thursday night.
The Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers kickstart the preseason pigskin party with the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. And don’t think for one second that the American public isn’t ready to fire bets on a game that is a glorified exhibition.
“People will bet this game because they’re that sick and deranged,” Westgate SuperBook executive director John Murray joked with me over the phone. “But really, I expect there to be a quite a bit of action. People are obsessed with the NFL and they will bet into it.”
Pittsburgh opened as a 1-point favorite with a total of 34 at most American sportsbooks. There’s been a slight push to the Steelers up to -2, but the more noticeable move has shown on the “Under.” Multiple shops reported sharp bets “Under” 33.5 and 33 to NESN.
The betting market is currently down to O/U 32.5.
A “sharp” is somebody who consistently beats the closing line — betting a favorite -5.5 when the market closes -7 — and is historically a winning bettor. These players help shape the betting market and help sportsbooks get to the right number.
“NFL preseason is one of the sharpest markets there is,” Murray explained. “Lots of sharp players get involved. Maybe they get information that this team or that team is going to play its starters three quarters. It’s very information-driven and a very tough market to book. There’s not a lot of tourist dollars.”
If you’re going to get down on a preseason game, please do your homework. Did you know that 16 Cowboys — including offensive starters Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Blake Jarwin — didn’t even make the trip to Canton? Or that Ben Roethlisberger will be hanging out on the sideline while quarterbacks Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins and Joshua Dobbs guide the Steelers offense?
Either way, it’s probably wise to not expect offensive fireworks.
“I would make the total 31 and dare you to bet ‘Over,'” longtime Las Vegas oddsmaker Dave Sharapan told NESN. “You know the public ain’t going ‘Under’ in this one, that’s for sure.”
Hall of Fame Game scores since 2010:
2010: Cowboys 16, Bengals 7 — 23
2012: Saints 17, Cardinals 10 — 27
2013: Cowboys 24, Dolphins 20 — 44
2014: Giants 17, Bills 13 — 30
2015: Vikings 14, Steelers 3 — 17
2017: Cowboys 20, Cardinals 18 — 38
2018: Ravens 17, Broncos 16 — 33
2019: Broncos 14, Falcons 10 — 24
2020: Cancelled due to COVID-19
I prefer to play it rather safe in the preseason and don’t like betting a lot of bread on the Hall of Fame Game just for kicks. But it is pretty tough to ignore that respected “Under” money at 33.5 and 33.
This one could very easily be 17-10 either way.