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Welcome back NFL betting with Bears vs. Ravens in the Hall of Fame Game


Hall of Fame Game Thursday.

Welcome back NFL betting with Bears vs. Ravens in the Hall of Fame Game
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The NFL preseason gets underway when the Chicago Bears face the Baltimore Ravens at Canton, Ohio for the annual Hall of Fame Game Thursday.

Oddsmakers opened the Ravens as 1-point favorites and that spread moved all the way to -2.5 but money on the underdog is coming back and has most books dealing -1.5 for the August 2 exhibition. The total for the Hall of Fame Game opened at 33.5 points and has slimmed to 33 with a slight lean toward the Under.

If you’ve been waiting since the Super Bowl to bet on NFL action, here are some key angles to pay attention to when sizing up Thursday’s NFL football bets online.

Coaching plans
You have two very different coaching situations unfolding here in Canton Thursday. Baltimore enters Year 11 under John Harbaugh, but after a few lackluster seasons the seat cushions in Harbaugh’s office chair may be heating up. Regardless of that pressure, Harbaugh told the media he’s very much treating this game as an extended practice or camp day and has no intent on winning or losing.

Things may be different with the Bears, who introduce new head coach Matt Nagy Thursday. Nagy, like most new coaches will want to impress his new employer as well as the Chicago fan base, and could put a bit more strategy behind his playbook in the Hall of Fame Game. That said, this is a completely new system and there are bound to be some growing pains as chemistry and timing build.

QB rotation
Baltimore’s depth chart has veteran passer Joe Flacco atop the QB slot, but there’s a very slim chance he’s even suit up Thursday night. The Ravens do have an interesting battle in behind Flacco, with the No. 2 spot up for grabs. Rookie QB and former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson will contend with injury-riddled and fellow former Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, while free agent and practice squad QB Josh Woodrum rounds out the rotation under center.

Jackson will be trying to prove his worth – and possibly put some pressure on Flacco – after sliding deep in the NFL Draft, landing with Baltimore in the final pick of the first round. Griffin is on the comeback trail after a disastrous end to his time in Washington and a brief stint with Cleveland. This preseason will likely be a last-gasp for RG3 if he can’t find his old form, so pay attention to his camp performance and mindset heading into Thursday.

Chicago will likely park second-year starter Mitch Trubisky on the bench for the opener, turning the QB duties over to Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray. While Daniel has been a perennial backup, he has run a starting offense before with the Chiefs back in 2013 and 2014. Bray saw almost no action with the Chiefs but did look OK during their preseason schedule in 2017.

Betting the total
The Hall of Fame Game usually comes with a low Over/Under, due to teams working with the offseason rust, new players, and new systems. The last 12 Hall of Fame Games have split total results, with six going Over and six going Under. There have been an average of 34.5 total points scored in those exhibition contests, however, three of the past four HoF Games have produced 38, 40 and 44 points.

The Bears’ new offense under Nagy will have an emphasis on passing compared to last year’s split play-calling between pass and run. While some would knock a team running under new schemes, both Daniel and Bray played under Nagy when he was the offensive coordinator in Kansas City, so there will be some familiarity with the offense Thursday.

If Baltimore’s quarterbacks are looking to sling it and show their stuff, there could be solid value in playing the Over 33 points in the Hall of Fame Game – or at least looking at a first-half Over when some of the starters and second-string talents see playing time.

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