Pittsburgh (0-0) vs Minnesota (0-0)
When: Sunday, August 9th, 2015
Where: Fawcett Stadium, Canton, OH
Time: 8:00 ET
The NFL preseason kicks off this Sunday night with the Minnesota Vikings as three-point favorites over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
The Vikings look to improve upon their 7-9, 2014 campaign with a vast improved defense and roster under second-year head coach Mike Zimmer. Second-year QB, Terry Bridgewater is looking forward to the return of veteran RB Adrian Peterson who is now back with the team after a year off with the team deactivating him putting him on the commissioner’s exempt list after being indicted on child injury charges. The return of Peterson should be a huge advantage to Bridgewater as he continues to develop as a QB and continues to improve upon last years 27th overall ranked offense.
Bridgewater has solid running backs in Peterson and Matt Asiata, but the team has several question marks at wide receiver where Mike Wallace and Cordarrelle Patterson look to redeem themselves from last years mediocre output. Adrian Peterson said that he does not plan on playing in any of the pre-season games this year which is no surprise to anyone as he has rarely taken the field in such games over the course of his career. Minnesota is believed by many NFL betting experts to be a team that could make the playoffs this season, despite their 40-1 long shot odds to win Super Bowl 50. The Vikings made some bold moves in this year’s draft to make their improved 2014, 14th overall ranked defense even stronger.
Vikings QB Depth Chart
Terry Bridgewater 2 years
Shaun Hill 14 years
Mike Kafka 3 years
The Pittsburgh Steelers, on the other hand look to be a team that has shifted its identity from defense to more of an offensive oriented squad with veteran defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau now coaching the Titans defense. The Steelers have arguably the greatest Big Three in the league, with QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown, and RB Le’Veon Bell. There are few backs in the league better than Bell as well as receivers better than Brown. The team also has a lot of depth at these positions as wide receiver Martavis Bryant is an upcoming star in the making and running back DeAngelo Williams comes over from Carolina backing up Bell. Running back Le’Veon Bell had one of the greatest season ever for a Steelers running back rushing for 1,361 yards, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Bell will be serving a two game suspension (reduced from four initially) to start the 2015 regular season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley signed a new two year contract as he and Big Ben Roethlisberger look to continue what they started finishing last season as the number 2 overall ranked offense. QB Ben Roethlisberger was tied for 1st (Drew Brees) last year in passing with 495 yards, 32 TD’s, 9 INT’s. Last years, 4,952 passing yards were not only a career high for Roethlisberger, but actually 600 yards greater than any other season in his career. Roethlisberger was also sacked the fewest times (33) of his career when he started more than 13 games with the help of second year offensive line coach, Mike Munchak. Head coach Mike Tomlin brings an 82-46 regular season record into his ninth season, a .641 winning percentage that ranks fourth among active coaches.
Steelers QB Depth Chart
Ben Roethlisberger 12 years
Bruce Gradkowski 9 years
Landry Jones 3 years
Minnesota under head coach Mike Zimmer tends to take the pre-season seriously as they finished 4-0 last year even without RB Adrian Peterson. We look for the trend to continue here as their new and improved team looks to make a solid impression on Sunday Night in prime time in the Hall of Fame Game season opener.
Take the Vikings -3