NFL Thursday Preseason Previews
Talk about your bad paint jobs!
The National Football League had to cancel Sunday night's Hall of Fame Game matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and the Green Bay Packers because - according to league sources - the painted logo at midfield made the conditions too slippery and too much like "hard cement."
Call us conspiracy theorists but it's more than just that, folks:
The newly named Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton (OH) - equipped with the exact playing surface used last year inside the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans - did present problems for stadium workers because of those black rubber pellets ingrained into the playing surface but keep in mind that all week long Green Bay's superstar QB Aaron Rodgers was outspoken in his desire for NFL teams not to have to play five games in a single preseason and also remember GB backup QB Brett Hundley was nursing an ankle injury and deemed out for this game.
So, that meant the Packers would have started off with a third-stringer at quarterback and then gone from there - all the more reason for the league to kayo this H.O.F game and there were plenty of veterans on Indianapolis that didn't want to play this tilt either.
What, did guys appear disappointed when they were meeting/greeting Hall of Famers Brett Favre, Marvin Harrison, Kevin Greene and others immediately after the 8 p.m. ET kickoff start was squashed?
Maybe the solution is to cancel the Hall of Fame Game altogether from this point forward or - as many have suggested - simply cut back the length of the preseason with maybe just two or three games played prior to the opening week of regular-season play.
Something to digest but be assured we will have NFL Preseason action beginning Thursday night and below we'll pop up quick-hitter comments on three of the six games slated to go on the night of August 11th. We'll touch on the other Thursday games in the next edition plus remember there's games Friday (5), Saturday (4) and Sunday (see Houston at San Francisco).
NFL PRESEASON WEEK #1 PREVIEWS
On Thursday Night, it's ...
WASHINGTON at ATLANTA - 7 p.m. ET
The opening-line price tag has the Falcons favored by three points - yes, that's your pretty standard Las Vegas line for home teams in the preseason as right now there are 10 games in Preseason Week 1 with a price of 3 or 3.5 points with the home teams favored - and remember hopes are high for Washington one year after it won its final four regular-season games to clinch the NFC East. Quarterback Kirk Cousins (4,166 yards passing with 29 TDs last year) probably plays only a series or two here for the home side and we'll see if 'Skins rookie WR Josh Doctson (TCU) can be a first-quarter factor.
TAMPA BAY at PHILADELPHIA - 7 p.m. ET
One thing you can say about the visiting T-Bay Buccaneers is that expectations are on the rise under brand-new head coach Kirk Koetter. The team's former offensive coordinator will still call the plays - new OC Todd Monken is really headed to an apprentice season, if you will - and there's lots to watch here after QB Jameis Winston presumably plays only a handful of snaps with backup QB Mike Glennon possibly being dangled as summer-time trade bait - is that Dallas on the other phone line? - while the 3-point home-favored Eagles begin to sort out their quarterback issues but don't put too much stock into the play of incumbent Sam Bradford here.
JACKSONVILLE at NEW YORK JETS - 7:30 p.m. ET, CBS
It's been a whirlwind summer for the J-E-T-S - they signed DT Muhammad Wilkerson to a spiffy long-term contract and - finally - inked QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one-year deal for $12 plus incentives but there remains major concerns for some veterans such as CB Darrell Revis (wrist) and free-agent RB Matt Forte (hamstring) as neither's expected to suit up for this exhibition game versus the now 2.5-point underdog J'ville Jaguars (game opened with the Jets favored by just 1.5 points). Better believe that Jacksonville's dismal 27th-ranked ground game (averaged just 92.1 ypg last year) will be looking for a jump-start with second-year RB T.J. Yeldon (ankle) likely limited in this game and simply no way will this AFC South club expose expected starting RB Chris Ivory - last year's leading rusher for the Jets with 1,070 yards - to many open-field hits here.
Remember that last year NFL Preseason Week 1 Betting Favorites cranked out a tidy 10-5-0 ATS (against the spread) mark with one Pick 'Em game tossed into the mix.