NFL Hall of Fame Game Betting Preview: Minnesota Vikings vs Pittsburgh Steelers

2015 NFL Hall of Fame Game
Minnesota Vikings vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, August 9, 2015, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: NBC
Fawcett Stadium – Canton, Ohio
Opening Line: Minnesota -2
Current Line: Minnesota -3 1/2
Opening Total: 34
Current Total: 34 1/2
Opening Money Line: Vikings -170 / Steelers +145
Current Money Line: Vikings -175 / Steelers +150

Minnesota and Pittsburgh kick off the pre-season in the Hall of Fame Game Sunday in Canton, Ohio.
Minnesota and Pittsburgh kick off the pre-season in the Hall of Fame Game Sunday in Canton, Ohio.

The 2015 NFL pre-season schedule gets underway Sunday as the Minnesota Vikings take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Canton Ohio.

Last season, Minnesota went 7-9 under coach Mike Zimmer. The Vikings did go 4-0 in the pre-season for what it’s worth. However, when star running back Adrian Peterson was suspended after the first game when child abuse allegations surfaced the Vikings were never really able to recover. Peterson is back in 2015 but will not play in the pre-season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers won the AFC Central with an 11-5 record, but the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens were within a game. All three teams would make the playoffs. Pittsburgh coached by Mike Tomlin, would be upset by the rival Ravens in the Wild Card playoffs. Pittsburgh went 1-3 in the pre-season last year.

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Minnesota went 10-6 ATS last season and the total was 6-10. Pittsburgh was 9-7 ATS and the total was also 9-7.

During the regular season, Minnesota leads the series against Pittsburgh 9-8. The Vikings won the last meeting 34-27 in London in 2013. Pittsburgh had won 3 straight games against Minnesota before that game.

Minnesota was outscored 21.4-20.3 in 2014. The Vikings were #20 in scoring. Minnesota averaged 317 yards per game including 204 passing and 113 rushing yards. The Vikings were #27 in both total and passing offense. On defense, Minnesota allowed 345 yards per game, including 224 passing and 121 rushing. The Vikings were #7 in pass defense but #25 in rush defense. Minnesota was 88/223 on third and fourth down conversions. The Vikings had 41 sacks and allowed 51. Minnesota was -1 in turnovers with 19 takeaways.

Zimmer has said his first team offense will play at least a series or two. Teddy Bridgewater is back as the starting quarterback after an up and down rookie season. Bridgewater threw for 2,919 yards with 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and also rushed for 209 yards with a touchdown. Last year’s back-ups Matt Cassell and Christian Ponder are both gone. The other quarterbacks on the roster include Shaun Hill, Taylor Heinicke and Mike Kafka. All are expected to see at least some action Sunday night.

Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon will split the carries at running back much like they did last season without Peterson. Joe Barntyard, Dominique Williams, and DuJuan Harris will also get some carries along with fullbacks Zach Line and Blake Renaud.

Although receivers Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings weren’t officially traded for each other, they will take each others’ place in 2015. Wallace signed with the Vikings while Jennings signed with the Dolphins. Wallace and Charles Johnson will start for the vikings at receiver, but other receivers such as Cordarelle Patterson, Adam Thielen, Jarius Wright, and Stefon Diggs will also see plenty of action tonight. Kyle Rudolph is the tight end. Rhett Ellison, MyCole Pruitt, and Chase Ford will also see time at tight end.

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While Minnesota will play most of their top stars, Tomlin has said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le’Veon Bell, and receiver Antonio Brown will not play tonight.

Last year, Pittsburgh outscored opponents 27-23. The Steelers were #7 in scoring. Pittsburgh averaged 411 yards per game on offense including 302 passing and 110 rushing yards. The Steelers were #2 in both total offense and passing last year. The Steelers allowed 353 yards per game, including 254 passing and 100 rushing yards. Pittsburgh was #6 in rush defense and #27 in pass defense. Pittsburgh was 98/218 on third and fourth down conversions. The Steelers forced 33 sacks and allowed 33 as well. Pittsburgh forced 31 turnovers and was +10.

Without Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski, Landry Jones, and Tajh Boyd will all take snaps tonight. It is expected Jones will take most of the snaps.  DeAngelo Williams, Dri Archer, Josh Harris, Cameron Stingily, and Jawon Chisolm could all see some carries. Will Johnson and Roosevelt Nix are the fullbacks.

Without Brown, the receivers will be Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Sammie Coates, C.J. Goodwin, Devin Gardner, Shakim Phillips, Kenzel Doe and Tyler Murphy. Tight end Heath Miller could see a series or two, but will most likely watch the game with his fellow first stringers. Matt Spaeth, Jesse James and Cameron Clear will see time at tight end.

The Vikings are favored in this game because they are playing their starters and the Steelers are not. However, once the second and third stringers are in which should be no later than the middle of the first quarter, it won’t really matter. Pittsburgh is a better team top to bottom and I think the Steelers win a close low scoring game.

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