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Are you ready for some football? I know I am. Tonight at the NFL Gridiron, we’ll see the Dallas Cowboys duke it out with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Hall Of Fame game. This competition takes place at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
Line movements -The game opened up as a choice, but has since been wagered on Pittsburgh 0-1.5 to -2 on most sportsbooks. 64% of the stakes have come in on the Steelers.
The Over / Under bets have been split down the middle and the line has still gone from 34 down to 32.5 in some places
Dallas needs Dak to stay healthy
The Dallas Cowboys will be very careful Dak Prescott on the preseason this year as they can not afford to see him get hurt. In 2019, the Cowboys had the biggest offense in the league, averaging 32.6 ppg in the five games he played last year, but Dallas could only make up 21.9 ppg in their last 11 games. The offense started clicking a little more at the end of the year, yet they need Dak to stay healthy. The backup group, made up of Cooper Rush, Ben DiNucci and Garrett Gilbert, has only seven career starts among them and they do not possess the talent that needs to be trusted for an extended period of time. They will get plenty of reps in the preseason, which should give Prescott a good fight for the backup role. Gilbert expects to get the start of this as Prescott gets a shoulder injury.
If he stays healthy, the offense will roll, especially with skill players like Zeke Elliott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamp, who are strong offensive threats. Dallas could very well have three receivers with 1,000 yards received this year. Dallas ranked 17th in total offense last year with 371.8 ypg, 8th in passing at 260.1 ypg and 17th in rushing at 111.8 ypg.
The defense was not good as Dallas ranked 23rd on the total yards allowed at 386.4 ypg, 11th against the pass (227.6 ypg), 31st against the race (158.8 ypg) and 28th in points allowed, which gave 29.6 ppg. The Cowboys used their first three picks on this side of the ball and it was huge for them to pick LB Micah Parsons with the 12th overall pick. He was one of the best LBs in the draft, and Dallas needs running defense help, as you can see from the numbers below. CB Kelvin Joseph was taken in the 2nd round and DT Osa Odighizuwa was taken in the 3rd round. Dallas loses LB Sean Lee and DB Xavier Woods, but overall this looks like an improved defense. Dallas went just 6-10 last year, but with an improved defense and a healthy Dak Prescott (if he stays that way), they will be in contention for a division crown this year.
Questionable – K Greg Zuerlein … DT Trysten Hill … WR Amari Cooper
Out – QB Dak Prescott … WR TJ Vasher
Is Najee Harris the answer?
The Pittsburgh Steelers have not had a good offense the last few years, and it starts with an attack on the ground that has ranked 29th or worse in all three years. Pittsburgh need the race game to get back on track, especially with an aging Ben Roethlisberger under center. Steelers took Alabama RB Najee Harris with their first choice in the draft in hopes of getting the race game underway. Harris ran for 2690 yards and had 729 yards received with 50 combined TDs during his last two years in Alabama. I expect him to get plenty of reps in the preseason. The problem for Pittsburgh this year may be that they have to rebuild the offensive line after finishing 32nd in the running block a year ago.
Many feel that OG Kendrick Green (Illinois) was stolen by the draft of Pittsburgh in the 3rd round. They also brought in four Olympics in free agency, including OT Joe Hagg of Tampa Bay. The offensive line will take some time to gel, and that means the offense could fight early this year. Roethlisberger is still the main part of this offense, but he will not play much in this one. It will create a QB battle for the backup role between Mason Rudolph and Jake Browning. Dwayne Haskins could also be in the mix, but he is doubtful for the start of the season. Pittsburgh ranked 26th on the score last year at 26.0 ppg.
The defense for the Steelers was strong last year as they ranked 3rd in total allowed yards at 305.8 ypg, 3rd against the pass (194.4 ypg), 11th against the race (111.4 ypg) and 3rd in points allowed , and gave up only 19.5 ppg. They used four draft to defense defenses, but all four were from the 4th round and Pittsburgh made no splashes in free organ on this side of the ball. They lost LB Bud Depree, but still most of their key pieces are left. If Pittsburgh can get their race going, then they will be able to steer the clock and keep their defenses fresher. It was worn at the end of the year. Pittsburgh will once again be in the mix for a playoff spot, even though they play in what many believe may be the toughest division in football.
Out – TE Dax Raymond
Questionable – QB Dwayne Haskins Jr.
Trends are Courtesy Of Covers.com Pittsburgh is:
- 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 Thursday games
- 4-11 ATS in their last 15 Thursday games