In the 2021 NFL Preseason opener on Thursday, August 5, 2021, the Steelers will face-off against the Cowboys at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, at 8 p.m. ET. on FOX.
The 2020 NFL season was altered in an unprecedented fashion thanks to COVID-19. While no regular season or playoff games were canceled, they were played without fans. The preseason, however, was a lost cause. The NFL nixed the 2020 preseason in its entirety, including the Hall of Fame Game.
While COVID-19 — or variations of it — remains a worldwide issue, the NFL is full speed ahead for the 2021 campaign. This includes preseason play and the upcoming 2021 Hall of Fame Game matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers, two of the most storied franchises the league has to offer.
Though it was canceled last preseason, the Steelers and Cowboys were supposed to play each other but clearly, it did not come to fruition.
These two franchises are no strangers to each other. In fact, they have faced off in three Super Bowls. The Steelers beat the Cowboys twice in the 1970s while Dallas picked up a victory over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XXX.
In the 2021 NFL Hall of Fame Game, BetMGM lists the Pittsburgh Steelers as a -1.5 (-110) favorite.
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Today, I will break down the preseason matchup and reveal my Best Bets for the first NFL action of 2021.
2021 Hall of Fame Game Prediction
We are finally here. The Hall of Fame Game. The first taste of NFL action of the forthcoming 2021 NFL season. Although this is the most meaningless game of them all, the participants, both the Steelers and Cowboys have a slight edge on the other 30 teams around the league.
In the past, the NFL clubs played in four preseason games. Now, they will play in three. Except for the two teams playing in the Hall of Fame game every year.
Sure, the game means nothing, and notable players could play a series (unlikely) if we are lucky, but it does retain value for the respective coaching staff to evaluate the very back end of their roster. Maybe there is a James Robinson, Tony Romo, or James Harrison lurking. They were all undrafted free agents.
Since most of the regular starters — and even their backups — are unlikely to play, we will see players who may be cut the next day or shortly thereafter. However, as I already mentioned, there could always be a diamond in the rough.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (shoulder), who is coming off a severe ankle injury, is out with an ailing shoulder. Meanwhile, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has been in the NFL since 2004. Neither quarterback is going to play — injury or not.
The total, which I will get into very soon, is set at 33 points. It is drastically low for a reason.
Cowboys vs Steelers Pick: Cowboys 19, Steelers 17
2021 Hall of Fame Game Best Bets
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2021 Hall of Fame Game Best Bet: Under 33 (-110) at BetMGM
Vegas knows the same thing we do. No one of note, outside of rookies and younger players who could potentially start or play a lot in a rotational role, will play in this game. It will be low-scoring.
- 12 of the past 20 Hall of Fame games since 2000 have totaled fewer than 33 points. Of those 20 games, five went over that total and three games were canceled in that period.
- The last time the Hall of Fame game went Over 33 points was back in 2018 when the Cowboys defeated the Cardinals 20-18 (38 points).
- The Under is 2-2 in the past five games between the Steelers and Cowboys (all regular season).
- The Under is 6-8 in the past 14 Hall of Fame games.
- Since 2009, only one Hall of Fame game surpassed a 14-point total.
2021 Hall of Fame Game Best Bet: Cowboys Moneyline (+115) at DraftKings
We will likely see backup quarterbacks Dwayne Haskins and Cooper Rush under center for the Steelers and Cowboys respectively.
The Steelers need to see if Haskins, a former first-round pick of the Washington Football Team turned reclamation project, can play at all with lift after Ben Roethlisberger in mind.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys need to know if Rush can get the job done if Dak Prescott should miss any regular-season time in 2021.
Sure, both teams will end up with their C teamers on the field for a lot of the game, but I expect the bulk of the production and scoring to happen early. From top to bottom talent-wise, I will give the Cowboys the edge, which means they have the better back end of the roster.
The Cowboys reserve offensive linemen also saw extensive playing time in 2020 with Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, and La’el Collins all missing games.
Smith and Collins missed a significant among of games, allowing Terence Steele and Brandon Knight to play a significant amount of meaningful snaps. They both should play well against Steelers reserves and dominate the trenches.
The Dallas defense is are young and skilled. I can also see new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn hyping his guys up to come out strong. After all, both the Cowboys and Quinn are coming off defensive years to forget. Did I mention they also get Haskins?
- The Cowboys and Steelers are both 3-3 all-time in Hall of Fame games
- The Favorites are 6-5-3 in the past 14 Gall of Fame games. In this case, the Steelers are the favorites
- The Cowboys are 2-2 in their past four meetings against the Steelers (all regular season).
2021 Hall of Fame Game Best Bet: Cowboys +1.5 (-110) at BetMGM
The Cowboys are the Underdogs, getting 1.5 points. I’d rather fade the spread and take the Cowboys to win outright. Chances are you aren’t wagering much on this one anyway so take the (+100) odds with the Moneyline and hope for the best in the first NFL game wagering action of the 2021 campaign.
- The Cowboys are 3-1 in the past four games against the Steelers (all regular season).