Pittsburgh Steeles vs. Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame Game Betting Preview

Pittsburgh Steeles vs. Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame Game Betting Preview

Barry Devoe
3 years ago
3 min read
Pittsburgh Steeles vs. Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame Game Betting Preview

The first game of the NFL season (or preseason) kicks off Thursday night when the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys square off in Canton, Ohio.

After no Hall of Fame Game or any exhibition games in 2020, football makes its return to Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium when two of the most storied franchises in the league go head-to-head.

Having football back in Canton is welcomed by all football fans. The game has been canceled three times in the last ten years; the lockout in 2011, poor field conditions in 2016, and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Out of the 56 years in which there has been a game, the Steelers and Cowboys each have a league-leading six appearances.

Even though this is an exhibition game, here is a betting preview for what we’ll see on Thursday night. Currently, Pittsburgh is a slight -1.5 favorite.

Steelers get a look at Ben replacements

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is entering his 18th year in the league and has every intention of guiding the Steelers back to the postseason this fall. But at 39 years old and hampered by an ailing shoulder, Big Ben will be watching Thursday’s contest from the sidelines.

Pittsburgh is expected to start Mason Rudolph under center, the expected number two option behind Roethlisberger. But following a couple of possessions, the Steelers will turn to former first-round pick and Ohio State Buckeye Dwayne Haskins to see what he is capable of after two bad years in Washington.

Not every starter will sit, however. A youngster like wide receiver Chase Claypool could get some looks early, as the second-year man from Notre Dame aims to have his first career 1,000-yard season.

Cowboys bring experienced backups to the field

The Cowboys were hit by the injury bug in 2020, and while starters are working to be healthy, it may be a while before you see them back on the field. Dallas will likely field a group of mostly backups, particularly on their offense, to go up Pittsburgh’s vaunted defense.

Many fans are awaiting quarterback Dak Prescott’s return to action, but with a shoulder strain on top of his season-ending ankle injury from last year, he will watch a combo of Garrett Gilbert, Ben DiNucci, and Cooper Rush take snaps instead.

Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, two Pro Bowl-caliber linemen who missed a number of games last year as well, will likely give way to backups Terence Steele and Brandon Knight on Thursday.

Fortunately for the Cowboys, running back Ezekiel Elliot should be on the field for at least a little bit of the action. Zeke struggled by his standards in 2020, totaling 979 rushing yards, and will look to get this new season started off right.

Expect a low-scoring affair

At first glance, the point total of 32.5 seems egregiously low for an NFL game. However, don’t expect the game to go much higher than that, if at all.

Of the last 20 Hall of Fame Games, 12 have totaled fewer than 33 points. However, the Cowboys were involved in the last game that surpassed that number when they defeated the Cardinals 20-18 in 2017, with most of their starters sitting on the bench.

Take the Steelers to pull off the victory

The Steelers have a few players who have stood out during camp and who people are excited to take the field, including rookie wide receiver Anthony Johnson and rookie cornerback Mark Gilbert. But their biggest edge is at QB, as Rudolph and Haskins simply have more experience than what Dallas is bringing to the huddle.

In a low-scoring game, Pittsburgh also has an advantage on defense. So take them to win in Canton as the 2021 NFL season kicks off in style.

The Pick: Steelers -1.5 (-110)

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