Thoughts on Rory,NFL Free Agency and the Kentucky Wildcats for Monday

 

Rory
Rory McIlroy isn't in any way like Tiger, but when he tosses a club into a pond he still needs to be held to the same standard.

As hard as I am on Tiger Woods, I’m a little disappointed that the sports media world hasn’t been a little harder on Rory McIlroy after he chucked his 3-iron into pond on the par five fifth hole at Trump Doral. One ESPN writer even went so far as to say “it wasn’t all negative.” Wait a minute… Why do we crush Tiger Woods for moments of anger that are a simple as a curse word but McIlroy gets a pass? Sorry but if you’re going to continue to push golf as a game of honor then demand it from all players not just some.

National Football League’s free agent frenzy is underway with some surprises and some some very expected moves. Ndamukong Suh will reportedly sign the richest deal for a defensive lineman ever on Tuesday when the formal signing can begin. Suh will get $60 million in guaranteed money as heads to the AFC East to play for the Miami Dolphins. The Raiders were thought to be major players for Suh but in the end the first rumored team to want him has gotten him.

Cobb
Randall Cobb surprised a few people with his decision to stay in Green Bay for less money.

In a bit of a surprise, Randall Cobb re-signed with the Green Bay Packers after it appeared there was no way they would be able to afford him. The Raiders reportedly offered him as much as $11-12 million per season but Cobb made a decision that far too many players do not. He chose less money and the chance for team success over anything else. Cobb continues to catch passes from Aaron Rodgers and will benefit from having other talented receivers around him.

I’m not sure I understand what the Philadelphia Eagles are up to in terms of their running back situation. They traded LeSean McCoy who is arguably in his prime years and now are rumored to be looking at former 49ers’ running back Frank Gore who is absolutely on the downside of his career. Granted, if they sign Gore, he’ll make much less money than McCoy would have but at the same time isn’t McCoy a better fir for the Chip Kelly offense?

No pun intended by this but what a tough break for the San Francisco Giants who have lost outfielder Hunter Pence for six to eight weeks. Pence, who played in all 162 games last season was struck on the forearm which fractured while he was batting. The defending champion Giants really have no room error in their quest to return to the playoffs. With the Dodgers already poised to be the division’s best team, the much-improved Padres will not be easily dismissed in 2015 either.

The Kentucky Wildcats achieved a perfect 31-0 regular season on Saturday with a win over SEC rival Florida. The arguments will be far and wide as to whether the team needs to lose in the SEC Tournament in order to capture the National Title. My take is that there will be pressure on these kids one way or another. They’ve been the overwhelming favorites to win the title since the season began and losing in the conference tournament will not make a bit of difference in the amount of pressure these players will face. Should UK lose somewhere in the next four weeks, the hindsight will be ridiculous. Just let the kids and John Calipari navigate the waters. There will be rough seas ahead one way or another.

Usually by this time in the NBA season I have a firm grasp on who I think will win the title but to be honest, I think any team in the Western Conference is capable of winning the championship while in the East I have faith only in the Hawks and Cavaliers.

 

Rodgers’ Calf a Concern for Bettors Plus an Amazing Story of Survival

Rodgers
Rodgers
This is not where you want to see Aaron Rodgers if you've taken the Packers to cover Sunday.

Wisconsin has long been known as “America’s Dairyland” and that of course means the cheese state possesses a large number of cows. The most important calf in all Wisconsin however has nothing to do with producing milk.

This calf is one of the two inhabiting the body of Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Last we saw the potential league MVP, he was leaving the field on a cart at home against Detroit. He eventually returned to lead the Packers to a division title while being stepped on by the Lions’ Ndamukong Suh.

That will have been two weeks ago this Sunday when Rodgers takes the field in the NFC Divisional Playoffs Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. As of this writing, Rodgers has yet to practice with the team and I don’t think that’s the end of the world but how good will his timing be with his receivers?

It was revealed on Thursday that Rodgers had a slight tear in his calf muscle and while it sounds alarming, anytime you have a muscle strain, essentially the muscle has tears so that wasn’t overwhelming news.

This leads me to two questions: First is how effective can Rodgers be if he is unable to use one of his finest assets which is to be mobile? He can certainly beat Dallas by standing in the pocket and throwing the ball but that isn’t what he or Coach Mike McCarthy wants to see.

Lacy
Eddie Lacy could be the key to Aaron Rodgers' success on Sunday.

The second question has to do with you. Right now this line has dipped to Dallas +6.5 in lieu of the Rodgers’ news. Previously, the line was at +7. If you intend to bet this game, how much faith can you put in Aaron Rodgers’ ability to stay on the field and be effective?

If he were 100% healthy heading into this game then I wouldn’t hesitate to go with Green Bay to cover but now things are in serious doubt. Perhaps this will send the money to the Dallas side and I expect it will. Remember this is a match-up of a team with an unbeaten road record against a team with an unbeaten home record.

What you have to decide is whether you think Rodgers can play the full game and at what level and do you have any confidence whatsoever in his back-up Matt Flynn?

I think the wild-card in all of this is Eddie Lacy. If the Packers can establish him as a viable running threat early on then that will take pressure off of Rodgers. I still like the Packers to cover in this one but I have a whole lot less confidence than I did a few days ago.

 

Did You See this?

Former Miami Dolphins’ running back/fullback Rob Konrad was a nice player during his six-year NFL career but he wasn’t anything spectacular. What he did earlier this week was worthy of a Hall of Fame vote in my opinion.

Konrad was fishing alone in his 36-foot boat when he fell into the Atlantic Ocean while trying to reel in a catch. With his boat on auto-pilot and going away from him, he was forced to swim roughly nine miles to shore. At one point, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter actually flew right over him.

He eventually reached a beach in West Palm and was being treated for hypothermia.

The only word I have for Rob Konrad is “stud.”

Michigan Moves on Harbaugh; Ramifications are Many

Harbaugh
Harbaugh
Jim Harbaugh has many things to consider but for right now, Michigan's offer cold have a ripple effect.

Well, there it is. The University of Michigan is doing their absolute best to bring home Jim Harbaugh. By now you probably already know what the contract offer looks like, six years and $48 million, but there’s a lot more to this story now than just the money.

Here’s a look at the ramifications of just the offer being thrown out there.

For Harbaugh – This offer immediately makes NFL teams prizing his services take notice. At eight million per year, it’s not out of the range for an NFL team to pay, but it does make it a little harder.

It’s believed that Oakland Raiders’ Owner Mark Davis will pay this much and more in an effort to get Harbaugh to come across the bay. There’s even a report Davis was willing to pay Jon Gruden as much as $16 million so eight is a drop in the bucket.

Harbaugh is clearly in the cat-bird seat while this unfolds. His team is out of the playoffs so his focus can pretty much be wherever he wants it to be. I expect the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins to be in play for him.

Don’t forget that Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross is a Michigan Alum with an endless bank account.

Hackett
Michigan Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett did the right thing by going after Harbaugh now but will it work?

For Michigan – The school has obviously made it known they are no longer willing to be the punching bag for Michigan State and Ohio State and anyone else beating the Wolverines these days. This kind of money says only one thing; “We want success now.”

The problem is dealing with the letdown of a potential Harbaugh pass. The only way that pain is tempered is if Michigan goes and gets a current head coach of a program that no one sees coming. A guy like Gary Patterson or Mark Helfrich or Kevin Sumlin.

Regardless of who it is, anyone not named “Jim Harbaugh” will be a letdown to the vast majority of the fan base.

For Other College Coaches – If you heard a loud ring coming from Tuscaloosa, Alabama last night that wasn’t just yours ears. That was Nick Saban’s agent calling Alabama to demand a raise.

There’s no way that Saban is going to be paid less than a guy who has won very little at the collegiate level and especially way less than he has. This effect will be a trickle-down one too. Guys like Jimbo Fisher, Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio will also be looking for raises.

Even if Harbaugh goes in another direction and leaves Michigan hanging, those numbers aren’t going to go away. There isn’t a college coach in America who hasn’t had his eyes pop out from that offer.

For the 49ers – If I’m owner Jed York and I see how in demand my coach is and he has one year left on his deal, I’m increasing the price for his services. Common thought was that it might take a couple of third-round picks to get him out of his final year.

Now? I’m asking at least a first-round pick and then the negotiations can begin from there. York can’t let him go for nothing.

My Prediction: I honestly believe Michigan means a lot to Harbaugh but he’s not coming back. He’s spent nearly all of his coaching career on the West Coast and appears to be very vested in his family and their wishes.

This doesn’t mean he won’t listen to the Jets or Dolphins but right now I think Harbaugh either stays in San Francisco or goes across the bay. The lure of the Super Bowl title is too much for him to ignore.

Odds for the AFC East for 2014

Gronk
Gronk
If Rob Gronkowski can stay healthy then the sky could be the limit for New England.

It’s time to start the AFC and I’m wasting no time. Let’s go!

New England -300 – I’ve lost track of how many division titles the Pats have won under Bill Belichick but they get ready to add another if health stays on their side. Last season saw the start of a transition in my opinion where the offense became more dependent upon the run than at any time in recent memory. That trend should continue in 2014.

The defense will be better simply with the addition of Darrelle Revis who can shrink the field and make offenses struggle to find yards elsewhere. The Patriots open the season with three of their first four on the road. The daunting part of the schedule however is the month of November when they play Denver and Detroit at home and travel to Green Bay and San Diego.

Season Projection: 12-4

Tannehill
Ryan Tannehill looks to take the next step and get the Dolphins into the playoffs.

Miami +650 – Miami improved a lot in 2013 and probably should have made the playoffs but didn’t. Ryan Tannehill is a very nice quarterback but he has to get rid of the ball sooner and take less sacks. A solid running game could help that. Defensively, I think the Dolphins are going to be good. They are the type of team to me that if they can score 21 points per game they’re going to win most of them.

The schedule for the Fins isn’t too bad. They get three of their final four games at home but they do have a stretch of three away games in four weeks in November. Those opponents are Detroit, Denver and the Jets with a visit from Buffalo mixed in.

Season Projection: 9-7

NY Jets +650 – The Jets surprised some people by going 8-8 last season. Many thought they’d be worse. Geno Smith is the clear starter but Michael Vick waits in the shadows and if the team is playing well but Smith is struggling then look for Vick quickly. The defense looks pretty good in the front seven but the secondary is young, banged up and lacking experience.

Rex Ryan is flat-out coaching or his job in 2014 and when a coach is dealing with that, they can flip switches quicker than they might normally do so. I look for the Jets to rely on a pretty good running game because the receivers don’t scare me and Smith doesn’t either at this point in his career. The schdeule opens with Oakland in MetLife Stadium but then it gets brutal for the next six games. Following the opener, they play at Green Bay, host Detroit and Chicago, play at San Diego, host Denver and then play at New England.

Season Projection: 8-8

Buffalo +900 – The Bills are loaded with question marks first and foremost among those deals with where they’ll be playing in the future. Will the new ownership keep the team in Buffalo? Will they head to Toronto or will they go somewhere else? For the guys on the field, their success hangs on the arm of quarterback E.J. Manuel who needs to stay healthy this year.

He has plenty of weapons at his disposal with rookie Sammy Watkins, RB Fred Jackson and big tight end Scott Chandler. His consistency is an issue and it didn’t look much better last weekend against the Steelers. The defense will struggle without Kiko Alonso who so good last season. The Bills’ schedule isn’t horrendous but they will have a tough final four games as they play at Denver, home to Green Bay, at Oakland and at New England in the finale.

Season Projection: 5-11

Overall: The Pats have too much talent and will win the division. Should they stumble, Miami is the next best choice.

Dwayne Bowe and Other NFL Thoughts

Bowe
Bowe
His team being 9-0 apparently was enough to keep Dwayne Bowe out of trouble.

It isn’t uncommon to see a professional athlete get into some trouble with the law. We’ve seen it in all four of the major professional sports in North America and there really isn’t a specific way of targeting a guy unless he has put the target on to himself.

With that said, I’m always amazed when a player, in this case NFL player Dwayne Bowe, gets arrested. The team he plays for is the Kansas City Chiefs. Unless you’ve been on Mars, the Chiefs are the only undefeated team remaining in the National Football League at a record of 9-0.

Bowe is currently the second-leading receiver for the Chiefs but that really didn’t matter as he was pulled over late Saturday night/Sunday morning in Kansas City for speeding. Things got worse when police smelled marijuana and thus searched the car.

Marijuana was present alright to the tune of over 10 grams and now Bowe will face a judge on December 18th.

How is it that a key player on a team that is unbeaten and facing their rival and closest competition in Denver this week doing such a thing?

Could we possibly give a player a pass if he plays for a team that is already out of playoff contention? We could certainly understand it a bit better but there is never a suitable time and place for such behavior.

Last offseason, Bowe signed a five-year $56 million dollar contract. Somehow, Bowe apparently couldn’t afford to hire a driver and/or keep his illegal drugs at home.

What really ticks off most fans is the arrogance and the overall stupidity of some of these athletes who feel they can live above the rest of us. Honestly, can we blame them for feeling this way though? Bowe has already served a four-game suspension in 2009 for performance-enhancing drugs. This penalty will be separate because it will fall under the illegal drug policy.

I feel bad for the Chiefs and their fans that are enjoying such a great season. I do not feel bad for Bowe though who was just being an idiot.

In other news…

Manning
Manning will play Sunday but he isn't 100%.

Peyton Manning will play on Sunday when the Broncos play the Chiefs for first place in the AFC West. The struggling Denver offensive line against the NFL’s top sacking defense doesn’t bode well for Manning. I still think he won’t finish the season.

At 3-6, are the Pittsburgh Steelers still alive in the AFC? If they get by Detroit this weekend in Pittsburgh where the Lions haven’t won since the 1950’s, they still have games with Cincinnati (home), Baltimore, two with Cleveland, collapsing Miami (home) and Green Bay who may not have Aaron Rodgers. Personally I don’t see it happening but the schedule couldn’t be aligning better.

Kudos to both Jacksonville and Tampa Bay for getting their first wins this past weekend. This of course means the 2008 Detroit Lions can still celebrate being the only 0-16 team in NFL history.

I really think whatever happens in Miami there is no way that Head Coach Joe Philbin and General Manager Jeff Ireland survive. We saw the first reasons why Monday night as the team lost to then winless Tampa Bay.

The team is relatively young especially at key positions and I don’t see them recovering from this Martin-Incognito situation. It’s going to get worse before it gets better because players will be interviewed about the situation in coming weeks and it could divide the locker room even further.

Dolphins laying Points on the Road Despite Controversy

Despite the off field distractions taking place in Miami, the Dolphins head into their NFL Monday Night Football clash with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers laying 2.5 points.

Miami enters the game with a record of 4-4 SU and ATS. The Dolphins have been mired in controversy since Jonathan Martin left the team and Richie Incognito was suspended by the club.

The performance by the Dolphins of late has not been good as they are 1-4 over their past five games played.

Tampa Bay is 0-8 SU and 2-6 ATS and an ideal matchup for Miami as they too have had their share of controversy and rumors are rampant that players are upset with Head Coach Greg Schiano’s intense workouts.

The last time Tampa Bay won at home was one year ago – tonight. Since that game, Tampa Bay is 2-13 SU and 5-9-1 ATS. In their last loss against Seattle last Sunday, the Bucs held a second quarter lead of 21 points, but eventually lost in overtime 27-24.

Though winless, Tampa has been competitive in their games. The Bucs own just the fourth worst point differential at -66, with Houston, New York (Giants), and Jacksonville (-178) all worse than the Bucs.

Miami is streaky. They were 3-0 to start the season and then lost four straight, before defeating Cincinnati in overtime 22-20, two Thursday’s ago.

As a favorite, Miami is 1-2 SU and ATS, while Tampa Bay is 0-6 SU and 2-4 ATS as the underdog.

Five of the eight games for the Dolphins have finished OVER the point total, while Tampa Bay’s last four have gone OVER.

The line opened last weekend with Miami at -3, but has been bet down a half point to the .2.5 that is stands at now.

The Dolphins cannot seem to protect their quarterback as he has been sacked 35 times and tonight 40% of their offensive line will be new. Chances are the sacking will continue tonight.

Ryan Tannehill however, has played well for Miami with 10 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. His arm is strong and he is big and athletic.

Tampa has only 17 sacks thus far and is led in the department by Lavonte David who has five. His quickness off the ball could be a nightmare for the offensive line of Miami especially the two new players replacing Martin and Incognito.

Lamar Miller is running the ball well for Miami, while Tampa Bay is allowing only 4 yards per carry this season.

The Dolphins are thin on the offensive line. They have had controversy hovering over them for the past 10 days.

The Bucs are hungry for a win and their matchup tonight with Miami is their best shot at getting one.

Pick: Tampa Bay 21-13

Two Major Issues Hanging on the NFL

Incognito
Incognito
I think it's very likely Richie Incognito never plays in the NFL again.

While I read an argument recently that suggested Major League Baseball was back as America’s Pastime I couldn’t help but think of just how wrong that sentiment was. Baseball loyalists are tough nuts to crack.

They have a hard time admitting their own games’ faults like Pete Rose’s gambling and the steroid era but have no trouble pointing out the problems that plague the country’s true pastime which is the National Football League.

To be fair and honest, the NFL does a decent enough job of keeping itself in the headlines with any number of negative stories so with all due respect to the baseball people, the NFL can make its own messes.

First and foremost is the situation in Miami.

Last week prior to their Thursday night win over Cincinnati, Dolphins’ tackle Jonathan Martin walked out of a team meal and chose not to return. He cited a culture of bullying that he was no longer able to take.

We now know the ringleader of this bullying is Dolphins’ center Richie Incognito and this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise given his history at Nebraska and then his conduct while playing in St. Louis. You can read the excerpts of Incognito’s phone and text messages to Martin here because I’m not going into them in depth.

To me, there are three things at issue here. First and foremost, Incognito is a disturbed individual who obviously has issues that he never dealt with from his childhood. In recent hours it was discovered his father has been bashing Martin on message boards so apparently the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

Secondly, Martin could have handled this a lot better too and maybe he attempted to but based on what we know I would say he reacted poorly. Why did he not go to the team’s union representative? Why not go to the position coach or head coach? Again, maybe he did but Joe Philbin doesn’t sound like a guy who would tolerate this stuff.

Lastly, where in the hell were Martin’s teammates? I have a hard time believing that none of the other offensive linemen knew what was going on? Is Incognito such a bully that they were afraid of him too? I have a really hard time believing that.

My gut feeling is that Incognito will be suspended for the season. He is a free agent at the end of the year and I’ll be shocked if anyone touches him. He’s a bully plain and simple but this is just the tip of the iceberg I fear.

Kubiak
The health of coaches like Gary Kubiak may become a bigger issue in years to come.

Another issue you’ll hear more and more about is the health of NFL coaches. Within a matter of hours, Denver’s John Fox, who was out golfing during the team’s bye week no less, and Houston coach Gary Kubiak both suffered health scares.

Kubiak of course collapsed while walking off the field during halftime of Sunday night’s game. Fox will miss a few weeks and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio will be the interim. For Kubiak, we have heard positive things from the Texans, but as far as his status we don’t yet know.

These two incidents will no doubt shed a light on the incredible hours these guys put in each week as NFL head coaches. Personally, I don’t see any way you can limit what these guys do. Even if you tell them they can’t be at the office they’ll find somewhere to keep working.

Let’s hope both men are fine and that these are isolated incidents.

Either way, the NFL has no problem attracting attention whether people think it’s the national pastime or not.

College and Pro Football on Tap Tonight

Tannehill
Tannehill
Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins need to stop the bleeding but will it start with the Bengals tonight?

Pro Football on the Southeast corner of the US and college football on the Northwest corner of the country highlight two games I’m looking at for your wagering options.

Cincinnati (-3) at Miami – Last we left the Cincinnati Bengals; they were dropping a 49-9 butt-kicking on the New York Jets in Paul Brown Stadium. This is of course the same Jets’ team that a week prior beat the New England Patriots and the week before that lost at home to a down Pittsburgh Steelers’ team.

Therefore, what do we take from the Bengals? For starters, this is a team that is now 6-2 and already has a firm grasp on the AFC North which vying to be the NFL’s worst division in 2013. This is also a team that has won four straight including a really big road win in Detroit prior to their beat down of the Jets.

Quarterback Andy Dalton is playing as well as he has during his three-year career. He threw five touchdown passes against the Jets and made it look pretty easy at the same time.

What will be interesting with Cincinnati is to see how the defense reacts to having lost linebacker Ray Maualuga for the next three to four weeks with a knee sprain. He’s played very well in 2013. The team also learned this week that safety Taylor Mays was going on the Injured Reserve list with a bad shoulder.

The strength of the Bengals’ defense is undeniably their front seven which gets great pressure and stops the run, so more may be asked of them in Maualuga’s absence.

For Miami, a short week might be the best medicine to cure their “Patriots’ Hangover.” The Dolphins led 17-3 into the second half in Foxboro before succumbing to the Pats 24-17. That 3-0 start down in South Beach now seems like forever ago as the Fins have lost four-straight.

A big part of the problem has been a lack of consistency in running the ball. Miami ranks just 23rd in the NFL with about 89 yards rushing per game. Often thought to be the strength of the team, the defense is suddenly lacking in firepower as well. They are giving up almost 30 points a game in those four losses and are getting beaten both on the ground and through the air.

This game clearly has a lot more impact for the Dolphins than it does for the Bengals but Cincinnati is streaking in one direction while the Dolphins are headed in the complete opposite. Take the Bengals to cover even on the road.

Graham
Graham's Sun Devils are torching scoreboards in the Pac-12 right now.

Arizona State (-12) at Washington State – If you’ve been lulled to sleep by Pac-12 powers Oregon and Stanford in recent weeks who could blame you? In their shadow is lurking the Sun Devils who are quietly leading the weaker, yet respectable Pac-12 South Division. They are averaging over 45 points per game and are fresh off a win at home over Washington where they laid 53 on the Huskies.

Now ASU travels north to play Washington State. The Cougars sit at 4-4 and boast an offense under Mike Leach that has no problems passing the football. They rank 6th with over 383 yards passing per game while the rushing attack is the complete opposite. They rush for just 58 yards per good which is good for 123rd in the nation.

The Sun Devils need to be careful here. They are not going to have any problems scoring points against the Wazzau, but they should expect a shootout either way. The over/under is 71 and I’m all over the ‘over’ here. I do suggest however, you take the Cougars and the points. I expect a lot of points and I can see Washington State keeping it close.

Cincinnati Making Impressive run ATS

Cincinnati at the halfway point of the NFL season is the big favorite to win the AFC North. Putting it simply, they have played very well winning four straight, while the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers are not.

Baltimore’s offense has been inconsistent, the Browns’ lost Brian Hoyer their quarterback to season ending knee surgery and the Steelers are mediocre at best.

The Bengals however are playing well winning four straight and have a lead of 2.5 games on the Ravens, 3 over the Browns and 3.5 over the Steelers.

Tonight, the Bengals face the Miami Dolphins in south Florida. Cincinnati is 6-2 SU and 5-2-1 ATS this season. The Dolphins are 3-4 SU and ATS.

Miami started the season 3-0 but have lost four straight. Last week, the Dolphins held a 14-point lead at halftime against the Patriots, only to see it wilt away. New England won the game 27-17.

The Dolphins are 2.5-point dogs at home in this matchup.

The odds for the Dolphins to win the Super Bowl have skyrocketed. Five weeks ago the Dolphins had odds of 25 to 1, on Tuesday when new odds came out on sites like Bovada, topbet and betonline, the Dolphins had odds of 175 to 1.

At the same time, the Bengals have 15 to 1 odds for the Super Bowl at those same sites. Only seven other teams in the league have shorter odds than the Bengals do.

Since the 1990 season, Cincinnati has only had winnings seasons ATS in 6 of 22 seasons. Of late however, Cincinnati has been good ATS. In 2011 the Bengals were 8-7-2 ATS and in 2012 9-7-1.

This season they have covered 5 of 8 games and have an ATS record of 12-3-1 in their past 15 games during the regular season.

However, having said that, Cincinnati is 0-2 ATS when they are a favorite on the road this season, the role they will start the game with on Thursday.

The line opened at -2 for Cincinnati with the point total on 42. The spread has been bet up a point to -3 and the total as well to 43.

The line is a tough call on the spread as Miami is tough at home and will look to put the frustrating loss to New England behind them. The point total is a bit easier. This season the Bengals are 5-3 on the OVER and the Dolphins are 5-2. Three straight have cashed on the OVER for the Bengals and 5 of 6 for the Dolphins.

Pick: OVER

Hall of Fame Game officially opens NFL Pre-Season

Do not look now but football is back. That is right, today the annual Hall of Fame game will be played to open up the preseason in the NFL.

Today’s matchup pits the Miami Dolphins against the Dallas Cowboys. A rivalry that is well documented including the infamous Leon Lett miscue in the end zone that cost the Cowboys a Thanksgiving Day win.

Currently sportsbook.com has the Dolphins favored by 2½ points with the over under point total sitting on 33.

Sunday in Canton, Ohio with the busts of all the previous Hall of Fame Inductees looking over the field, the NFL season will begin.

This is Miami’s fourth trip to the HOF Game and the Dolphins are 0-3 in their previous three. Dallas has played in four HOF games and they too have not played well with a record of 1-3.

Miami should be better this season, as quarterback Ryan Tannehill has one full season under his belt. On defense, the Dolphins showed signs of brilliance, and this season could be one of the top ten in the league.

The Cowboys have been a disappointment of late, as they have not played in the postseason since 2009. Dallas has not even made the Super Bowl since 1996, but remains one of the league’s most popular teams.

This season Bill Callahan the team’s offensive coordinator will make the play calls and on defense, the Cowboys brought in Monte Kiffin to be the defensive coordinator. Do not look for Tony Romo the Cowboys starting quarterback to play in tonight’s game

Currently Bovada has Dallas at 34/1 and Miami at 41/1 to win the Super Bowl in their futures.

Recent betting trends on betonline have the UNDER cashing out in 22 of the past 31 Miami games. Miami is also 5-2 ATS over its past 7 games on fieldturf. The OVER has cashed out 4 of 5 times the Cowboys have played on fieldturf. Over its past 7 games, Dallas is 2-5 ATS.

The Cowboys players and coaches will be loaded down with pressure this season and look for head coach Jason Garrett to play his top players early and then rest them.

The Cowboys have a better defense and Kyle Orton should produce for them at quarterback without Romo.

Prediction: Dallas 27 – Miami 17