After yet another football off-season that spanned far too long, football returns tonight in the annual Hall of Fame Game live from Canton, Ohio. You may remember last year’s debacle when field conditions made avid football fans wait a week longer, but the 2017 edition is poised to put on a good show as two of the NFC’s top teams square off. Big things are certainly expected for the Cowboys in 2017, especially with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott looking to build on their electrifying rookie campaigns. The dynamic duo will look to start their season off right in early August – should they get playing time.
Meanwhile for the Cardinals, it is clear they took a bit of a step back during the 2016 season. What was supposed to be a Super Bowl contending year slipped away in a hurry, and it remains to be seen if they can reach their potential this time around. The defence remains solid, but if the quarterbacking can’t match the expectations, another lengthy season could be in store in the desert.
As is always the case with pre-season matches of any sport, please be sure to tread with caution when wagering. Starters in the NFL really only play heavily in Week 3 of the exhibition slate, and expect a healthy dose of back-ups at all other times. Be sure to have a look at depth charts and second and third-teamers, as we’ll be sure to cover as well. Read on for our first NFL prediction of 2017 between the Cowboys and Cardinals!
Cowboys vs. Cardinals Betting Odds:
Dallas Cowboys -1 (-115)
@ Arizona Cardinals +1 (-105)
Over 35 (-110)
Under 35 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Cowboys vs. Cardinals Pick:
Expect a fired up Dallas Cowboys squad in this contest. Well, about as fired up as you can get for a pre-season football game. This is because the Cowboys’ longtime legendary owner Jerry Jones will be enshrined into the Hall of Fame this weekend. Look for a little extra motivational edge as a result. Couple this with Arizona coach Bruce Arians’ recent comments yesterday that none of his starters will play, and the edge certainly shifts to the Cowboys in this contest.
It’s no surprise that Arians has elected to keep some of his older veteran players out of this game. Carson Palmer had a sluggish 2016 and the hope is that giving him extra rest will prolong his performance this season. In his spot will be the much-maligned Blaine Gabbert and undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M, Trevor Knight.
Dallas is meanwhile is expected to rely on some younger players to serve in key depth roles for the 2017 season. As a result, look for them to lean on these guys heavily over the next month or so as they prepare for the regular season. These kids should be motivated as they battle for jobs throughout August.
One of the most important factors when betting pre-season NFL action, can be depth at the QB position. Both Dallas and Arizona have talent beyond their starters, and guys who have previously served as NFL quarterbacks – all with varying degrees of success. Blaine Gabbert has made the move to Arizona, and after some awful seasons with Jacksonville and San Francisco, he’s hoping to have found an opportunity in the desert. He’s supposed to get much of the first half on Thursday night, though this may be a bonus for the Cowboys’ defense given his play so far in his career. Beyond Gabbert, it’s been said that Arizona won’t even go to their true backup in Drew Stanton – instead giving the reins to fourth-stringer Trevor Knight.
On the other side of the ball, look for an intense QB competition between two guys who have had success and shown promise in years past. Kellen Moore is back in the limelight coming off an injury, and he’ll go against a talented veteran play-caller in Luke McCown. Both have had glimpses of success and the duo should do well enough on Thursday to give a more motivated Cowboys squad the edge they need.
Given the fact that the QB depth chart sides with the Cowboys as does their insistence on young players playing more prominent roles in 2017, Dallas is the rightful favourite for tonight’s affair. Blaine Gabbert and Trevor Knight simply cannot stack up against Kellen Moore and Luke McCown and the latter duo should outshine them for all four quarters. We already know Arizona’s starters definitively won’t play, while there’s at least a chance we will see some of the Cowboys’ first-teamers tonight. Combined with the induction of Jerry Jones, and it should be a good start to the 2017 season for Dallas in Canton, Ohio.
PICK = Cowboys -1 (-115)