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HALL-OF-FAME GAME, LET THE FOOTBALL BEGIN
Sun, 08 Aug 2010 12:47 PM EDT

Sunday marks the beginning of the football betting season and though the matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals may be tagged as just an “exhibition” game, it means much more than that to those who have missed partaking in one of their favorite hobbies since February. The Hall-of-Fame Game from Canton, Ohio is a tradition that football fans love, and for 2010, the Sportsbook.com pointspread finds Cincinnati as a 3-point favorite with a total that has plummeted from 35 to 32.5. Let’s take a look at the matchup and the betting history of the HOF game.

Both the Bengals and the Cowboys come off playoff seasons, but for Dallas, the expectations for 2010 are much higher than they are in the Queen City. In fact, there are many experts out there that believe that the Cowboys have what it takes to become the first team ever to play in a Super Bowl they are hosting. Cincinnati has of course added wide receiver Terrell Owens to the mix this season to join Chad Ochocinco. Talk about a nightmare for quarterback Carson Palmer. Baseball Scores

The Bengals cleaned up their act on and off the field last season and the result was a breakthrough 10-win campaign that brought the AFC North title in tow. Though the playoff loss at home to the Jets was a disappointment, the future is as bright as it’s been during the Marvin Lewis era as after going 6-0 in division play a year ago, followed by a promising offseason, repeat potential is no laughing matter…Much success can be traced to an offense led by a rejuvenated Cedric Benson at RB and a healthy Carson Palmer under center. The passing game ranked just 26th at 180.6 YPG but beginning in late October, Palmer enjoyed a nine-game stretch where he threw for 13 scores and four interceptions. The Bengals’ defense ranked No. 4 overall, allowing 301.4 YPG, and no worse than seventh against the run and pass, and sixth in scoring defense. That came despite numerous injuries. The big thing for Cincinnati will be fighting off a trend that has seen them struggle to string together big seasons. Basketball Scores

Specifically regarding the preseason, the Bengals are 12-8 ATS for 60% over the last five seasons. They are expected to go with a quarterback rotation of Carson Palmer – JT O’Sullivan – Jordan Palmer.

For the Cowboys, the mantra beginning training camp has become Super Bowl or bust. With as quiet as the offseason was, it is believed that owner Jerry Jones feels his franchise is ready to reach the top of the NFC. The primary reason is the growth of QB Tony Romo, who got the monkey off his back by beating Philadelphia in the wildcard playoff, the first postseason victory for the Cowboys since the mid-90’s. They also enjoyed a strong December for once, that bought the Wade Phillips regime one more season. However, anything less than two steps forward will likely have him pounding the unemployment line following this season. The offense looks even better and the defense can hold up its end of the bargain. No wonder the expectations are so high.

Oddsmakers seem to be looking at this game through mid- to late-90’s glasses, as they are giving the Cowboys very little respect in this contest. The Cowboys had developed a well-know reputation for tanking their preseason games back then, but the new era has been much different. In fact, Dallas has not had a losing preseason campaign since 2001, going 20-11-1 SU & 19-13 ATS, good for 59%. Their quarterback rotation figures to be Tony Romo – Jon Kitna – Stephen McGee – Matt Nichols. Romo had been experiencing some shoulder soreness early in training camp but that has subsided of late. However, I wouldn’t expect more than a series or two from him. NFL Scores

This will be Dallas’ first appearance in the HOF game since 1999, a 20-17 loss but spread cover against Cleveland. The Bengals last played in Canton in 1988, beating the then Los Angeles Rams 14-7. Of course, Canton is just a short jaunt from Cincinnati, meaning the Bengals could enjoy somewhat of a home field advantage. That more than anything may be the reason they are favored.

In terms of Hall-of-Fame Game trends, FAVORITES are on a run of 6-1 SU & 4-1-2 ATS, with the 2004 game closing at a pick em’ spread. The last two games, and four of the last six have gone OVER the total. Note that in the last 10 times the total has dropped from its opening number in this game, the OVER is 6-4.

This will be the first preseason meeting between these teams since prior to 1993. Kickoff for the contest is set for 8:00 PM ET from Canton, OH on NBC.


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