By Ross Benjamin
Hall of Fame Game Recap
Football is thankfully back as the Bills and Giants opened the NFL preseasonbett ing campaign last night in Canton, Ohio. The Giants came away with a 17-13 win and cover as a 3.0-point underdog. The game stayed under the closing total of 36.5. As per usual for a nationally televised primetime game, football bettors overwhelmingly placed for bets on the over, and as a result that number soared from the opening number of 32.5 to as high as 37.0 at some sports betting establishments.
Early Writing on the Wall
It was quite apparent from watching last night’s game that defensive holding and illegal contact beyond 5-yards of the line of scrimmage will be a point of emphasis this season. As a result this will certainly favor the passing game in addition to keeping drives alive. I would be shocked if we don’t see the odds-makers compensate for those rule enforcements by elevating the totals a tad, at least early in the season.
My Take on the Teams
I came away having the same concerns for the Bills in which many of their detractors have expressed during the offseason. Is E.J. Manuel the real deal, or a potential 1st round bust? Granted he only played 2-series so it was a very small sample size. However, he was just 2-for-7 in the air, and had 3 passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. This is definitely an improved team from a talent and experience standpoint. That will all go for naught if Manuel doesn’t take a big step in his 2nd year, or is unable to stay healthy (missed 6-games in 2013) like he did a season ago. As we witnessed last night, the Bills backup quarterbacks Jeff Tuel and Thad Lewis aren’t going to lead you to the playoffs.
The Giants are a team in transition. The key to success in 2014 will hinge on their biggest question mark, and that’s their offensive line. They did look very good in their 3rd offensive series last night during an 80-yeard touchdown drive. The Giants running backs namely 4th round pick Andre Williams were able to gain huge chunks of yardage in the sequence. The bad news is, that was the first team offense for the Giants against the Bills 2nd team defense. In the first 2-series of the game, the stellar Buffalo defensive line seemed to manhandle the Giants up front.
Team Performances Following the HOF Game
I’m going to reference the article I wrote for Sportsbook Review last week which was titled “NFL Hall of Fame Betting Trends on Bills-Giants Preseason”. Any team that played in the Hall of Fame Game, versus an opponent playing their first preseason game of the year has gone 54-27-5 ATS (66.7%), and 56-30 straight up (65.1%) since 1983. With that in mind, the Bills will travel to Charlotte this coming Friday to take on the Carolina Panthers, and the Giants will host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday. Buffalo will have additional value since they’re coming off a SU&ATS loss. Teams coming off a SU&ATS loss in the Hall of Fame Game are 29-11 ATS (72.5%), and 28-12 straight up (70%) since 1983.