Cowboys vs. Steelers Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers -2 (-110)
At long last, football season is finally here. The preseason may not be quite as good as the real thing, but we can’t get too picky. Football is football, right?
The Hall of Fame Game is back after a one-year hiatus. Last year’s game – and the entire preseason – were canceled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. However, the game is back this year featuring a matchup between two of the league’s most iconic franchises. The Dallas Cowboys will meet the Pittsburgh Steelers in Thursday’s highly-anticipated clash.
We may not be getting a game quite as compelling as some of the previous Super Bowl matchups between these teams, but you can still bet on the NFL preseason. NFL betting sites have stepped up their offerings ahead of the new season. There are a number of factors that make betting on the preseason a unique experience for both oddsmakers and NFL bettors alike.
Setting a line for a preseason game is no easy endeavor. There is plenty of guesswork involved, which means there is potentially some value to be had if you’re smart about the bets you place. The Steelers are listed as slight two-point favorites on Thursday night in a game with an over/under of 31.5 points at BetUS.
Will the Stars Play for Dallas?
The NFL preseason has been shortened this season after the league decided to add a 17th regular-season game to every team’s schedule. So, most teams will play just three preseason games, but the Cowboys and Steelers will play four apiece. That gives both teams a bit more leeway with the players they put on the field this early in the preseason.
In all, 16 Cowboys players have not even traveled to Canton for this game. Among them is quarterback Dak Prescott, who is reportedly nursing a muscle strain in his throwing shoulder. Prescott is expected to be ready for Week 1 after suffering a gruesome broken leg early last season, but he won’t appear in Dallas’ preseason opener.
DeMarcus Lawrence, Amari Cooper, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, and Malik Hooker are also among those that have stayed behind at the team’s training camp site in Southern California. With Prescott out of the picture, expect the Cowboys to use this game as a formal tryout for his bevy of backups. The No. 2 job is still up for grabs, which means we should see plenty of Garrett Gilbert, Ben DiNucci, and Cooper Rush under center for Mike McCarthy’s squad in this one.
The Cowboys have no reason to risk the likes of Ezekiel Elliott or CeeDee Lamb in this game, either. Dallas knows what to expect out of Elliott, while Lamb showed enough as a rookie to where risking injury in a meaningless preseason clash seems downright unnecessary. Instead, Tony Pollard, Rico Dowdle, and JaQuan Hardy may get some extra work out of the backfield, while Noah Brown, Malik Turner, and Cedrick Wilson should see plenty of opportunities in the passing game.
Steelers Have Question Marks
As is the case with the Cowboys, the Steelers will also be down their own QB1 in this game. Ben Roethlisberger is preparing to begin his 18th season with the Steelers, so there’s no sense in risking the veteran in the first preseason game. Pittsburgh will give the future Hall-of-Famer the night off, with Mason Rudolph slated to start. Dwayne Haskins, who was cut last season by Washington, is expected to see plenty of work in a relief role, too.
However, the Steelers do have some new faces that need some grooming. Mike Tomlin has already said that first-round rookie Najee Harris will get some snaps in the game, so we’ll get our first glimpse at the former Alabama standout against NFL competition. The Steelers also have a few new names along the offensive line following the offseason departures of Antonio Villanueva and David DeCastro, so we’ll see how the new line holds up in their first game action of the preseason.
Coach Tomlin has named Mason Rudolph the starting quarterback for the Hall of Fame Game against Dallas. pic.twitter.com/1T7gU37aOU
The Steelers are the more likely team to give some of their regulars extra playing time in this one. The fact that Rudolph has played plenty of regular-season games and gotten his feet wet against top competition also likely gives Pittsburgh a leg up.
Literally anything can happen in a preseason game. Things will likely get pretty ugly once the third- and fourth-stringers enter the game in the late stages, but the Steelers do seem to have a slight advantage given the quality of their expected starters in this one. Rudolph has plenty of experience playing at this level, which can’t be said of any QBs expected to see the field on Thursday for the Cowboys.
Because of the unpredictable nature of the preseason, I don’t think you’re crazy to take a stab at the Cowboys’ +115 moneyline. These games are essentially toss-ups, especially once the starters leave the field after a drive or two. The Steelers are understandable favorites in this one, so a wager on Pittsburgh to cover that tight spread would be my preferred play at -110.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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