Welcome back, football.
A Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Las Vegas Raiders showdown in the Hall of Fame Game at Canton, Ohio isn't exactly a thrilling matchup, but it's football. Unless you were really into the USFL, we haven't seen football in a long time.
Because it's football and there are betting lines, it will get some action. And there was a pretty significant line move this week. The Jaguars were 1.5-point favorites at BetMGM on Tuesday. By Wednesday the favorite flipped and the Raiders were -2.5. The total is a scant 30.5.
The total stands out because it's very low. That's getting ahead of a trend. The under has cashed in seven of the last nine Hall of Fame Games. Last year the over/under was just 33 points for the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Dallas Cowboys. The Steelers won 16-3, comfortably going under the total. Because very few starters, if any at all, play in the Hall of Fame game it's usually not an offensive show.
The Jaguars have already ruled out Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne from the Hall of Fame Game, and that's no surprise. Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard has a minor injury too so Jake Luton will likely start at quarterback for Jacksonville. That's likely the main reason for the big line move between Tuesday and Wednesday. Luton was a 2020 sixth-round pick and started three regular-season games as a rookie. He posted a meager 54.5 passer rating.
Plenty of Jaguars starters will sit or play a series at most, because that's how most teams approach the Hall of Fame Game. While the Raiders aren't going with a full game plan, it sounds like they won't scale everything back.
“I’ve had many discussions like that over many years about what we should or shouldn’t do or what’s too much or not enough to show," new Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said, via The Athletic. "I think it’s important for us to go out there and let the players play and be aggressive."
Neither team will be taking it too seriously. But it's football. And betting on football.
Here's a first look at the sports betting slate for Thursday:
A big Braves-Mets series
The Atlanta Braves and New York Mets are battling for the all-important No. 2 seed in the NL, and the Mets lead that race. But the Braves can cut the Mets' lead in the NL East over the next four games during a monster series in New York. The Mets are small -120 favorites in the opener and rightfully so, but it should be a fun four days at Citi Field.
Plenty of other MLB action
There's one early start with the Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates facing off at 12:35 p.m. Eastern. The Brewers are big -250 favorites but they will be hard to bet on until we see how they react following the Josh Hader trade to San Diego while Milwaukee was in first place of the NL Central. We get the Los Angeles Dodgers at the San Francisco Giants in another afternoon game, part of a fun 12-game MLB slate.
There's also the Wyndham Championship golf tournament getting started and two WNBA games, if baseball and a preseason football game aren't enough.
What's the best bet?
It's almost impossible to have a strong opinion on the Hall of Fame Game because most starters won't see the field. Though, that is becoming the norm for most preseason games. I'll lean toward the Raiders on the side, mostly because they're a deeper team. Since both teams have new coaches you'll see the game have a slightly more serious tone than most Hall of Fame Games. A better bet for the game is the over, not because there should be much scoring but 30.5 is a very low number. It won't take too much to get to 31.