2011 seems like a long long time ago, but here we are! Another season of picks ATS is about to kick off (even if it is just the preseason).
I am taking a pass on the Hall of Fame game, but I'll offer my thoughts on the matchup.
In short, there are too many conflicting variables and uncertainties on both teams.
Betting markets are pretty divided—both on the spread and the total. Right now, 53 percent of the bets have come in on the Arizona Cardinals, and 64 percent on the money line. 53 percent of bets are on the over, but you'll find different numbers depending where you shop. The total opened at 34.5 (Pinnacle Sports), but it's gone up to as high as 37.5 (5Dimes) at some places.
Not much information has come out of either coach either.
From SBNation Arizona,
As far as the starting lineup and number of plays or minutes each player will have, Coach Whiz has not even thought about it yet. He said that he will probably review this with the coaches Saturday morning and inform the team Saturday night.Christian Petersen/Getty Images
From The Washington Post,
Interim coach Joe Vitt refused to talk about the plan for snaps, saying only that it would be similar to what the Saints did in 2007, the last time they were in the Hall of Fame game.
Well, in 2007 the Saints opened with the HOF game and the starters barely played at all. They lost 7-20 against the Steelers. Who knows how the New Orleans coaching situation will shake out, but I do expect Spags to have an early effect on the defense. The Saints have a serious chip on their shoulders, Sean Payton will be in town for the HOF ceremony, and this is their first team appearance on primetime.
Whisenhunt is only 7-13 in the preseason, but most of the damage is thanks to a 1-4 record in week 2. In week 1 he is 2-3. Last season, he finished with a 2-2 record in exhibition play. ATS he is 8-11-1 overall and 10-10 on totals.
Some key starters for both teams are being sat out here entirely, because there's no sense risking further injury on the bonus preseason game on the schedule. Both starting corners are out for the Saints, and don't expect to see Ryan Williams or Nick Toon either.
Which team will cover the spread?
The Cardinals have a key battle going on at the QB starting position between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton. On the flip side, Chase Daniel and Luke McCown are duking it out for the backup role for the Saints. No one anticipates Drew Brees on the field for long. Ryan Lindley and Richard Bartel (Cardinals) and Sean Canfield (Saints) should all see action as well, but we don't know who will play how long yet.
The other factor I really don't like is the idea of replacement officials. The last time the league saw replacement refs, there were fewer average penalties per game, but Goodell has gone out of his way to emphasize safety to these refs—so we could see more this time around. I'm curious to see how (or if) this has an impact on the game.
The only option I considered was under 37 (Pinnacle) (bet up from 34.5)—because I think both defenses will have the upper hand—but I don't feel strong enough about it to add it to the card. One could make a good argument for either team, which essentially translates into a "pass." Wait for better opportunities in the coming games.