Chicago (0-0) vs Baltimore (0-0)
When: Thursday, August 2nd 2018
Where: Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton, OH
Time: 8:00 ET | TV: NBC
Opening Odds: Baltimore -1/33.5
The NFL season is finally here, and although these games don’t count, it’s still fun to see the pigskin flying around. Two teams that failed to qualify for the postseason in 2017 will meet in Canton, Ohio for the Hall of Fame Game as the Chicago Bears take on the Baltimore Ravens. Each team will get to play five preseason games this summer – something most teams would rather not do – and the Bears may need it more as they are under the guidance of a new head coach. Matt Nagy takes over a franchise that has lost 10 or more games for four consecutive seasons along with last place finishes in the NFC North. The 40-year-old Nagy will be a head man for the first time, coming over from Kansas City as their offensive coordinator, and brings an enthusiasm and refreshing change from John Fox. Chicago focused most of its offseason attention in overhauling the offense, signing receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel and tight end Trey Burton. They also drafted receiver Anthony Miller out of Memphis in Round 2, but Chicago’s first-round pick was Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, who is still holding out. The Bears are 4-0 all time in this game, last playing in 2005.
While Chicago deals with a new coach, the Ravens have been under the helm of John Harbaugh for some time now and are outstanding when it comes to winning meaningless games. Harbaugh’s Ravens are 28-12 straight-up in the preseason, including going 4-0 in three of the past four seasons. The Ravens are fine with not playing their starters in this game since they are a veteran team and Harbaugh has been the coach since 2008. There is some pressure on Harbaugh, however, as he could be out of a job if the Ravens miss the playoffs a fourth straight year. The main attraction on Thursday will be the NFL debut of former Louisville Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Ravens traded back into the end of the first round to take Jackson, who has been compared to Michael Vick. Baltimore has another former Heisman winner in the backup QB mix as well in Robert Griffin III. It’s the first time the Ravens have played in the Hall of Fame Game.
I’m looking forward to seeing Jackson play in this game. Many scouts said he should switch to wide receiver and that he couldn’t be an NFL quarterback. He’ll have a chip on his shoulder looking to prove everyone wrong. I think he has a solid debut against the second and third-team defense of the Bears. You also have to take into consideration Harbaugh’s preseason record. I’ll lay the small number here.
Pick: Ravens -2.5
- Bears are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games on grass.
- Bears are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 Thursday games.
- Ravens are 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 Thursday games.
- Ravens are 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 games on grass.
- Under is 6-0 in Bears last 6 games overall.
- Under is 8-3 in Bears last 11 games on grass.
- Over is 5-2 in Ravens last 7 games on grass.