Hall of Fame Game Preview

Hall of Fame Game Preview

NFL Preseason Preview - Indianapolis (0-0) vs. Washington (0-0)
By Tony Moss

(Sports Network) - The NFL preseason will kick off in traditional fashion on Sunday night, when the Washington Redskins and Indianapolis Colts do battle in the annual Hall of Fame from Canton, OH.

Making his sideline debut for the Redskins will be head coach Jim Zorn, who was hired away from the Seattle Seahawks following the offseason retirement of the legendary Joe Gibbs. Zorn, who spent nine years as a quarterback with the Seahawks from 1976-84, spent the last seven seasons tutoring that team's signal-callers.

Also appearing as a member of the Redskins for the first time will be Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Taylor, who was dealt to Washington from the Dolphins in exchange for second- and sixth-round draft picks on July 20th.

Zorn and Taylor will try to help Washington build off last year's 9-7 campaign, which came complete with the franchise's second postseason appearance in the past three years.

Redskins who won't appear on Sunday include running backs Clinton Portis (hips) and Ladell Betts (thigh).

Indianapolis, which comes off a 13-3 season and fifth consecutive AFC South title, will take the field on Sunday without its most visible player. Quarterback Peyton Manning is expected to miss the majority of the preseason following minor knee surgery on July 14th, a circumstance that pushes longtime backup Jim Sorgi into a temporary starting role.

A pair of signal-calling newcomers, Quinn Gray (ex-Jaguars) and Jared Lorenzen (ex-Giants), should also get an opportunity to take some snaps on Sunday.

Elsewhere on the injury front, Indianapolis defensive end Dwight Freeney (foot) is not expected to see any time on Sunday as he continues to recover from a season-ending injury suffered in 2007. Safety Bob Sanders (shoulder) and linebackers Gary Brackett (hip) and Tyjuan Hagler (pectoral) will also sit out the preseason lid-lifter.

Indy wide receiver Marvin Harrison, who missed most of 2007 with a knee problem, could see limited snaps against the Redskins, however.

The Colts lead the all-time preseason series with the Redskins, 15-10-1, though the clubs have not met in a preseason game since 1981, when the Colts franchise was still located in Baltimore. The Redskins were 13-7 winners at Memorial Stadium in that contest.

Indianapolis was a 36-22 home winner when the clubs last played meaningful football against one another, during the 2006 regular season.

The annual Hall of Fame game is played at Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium, a Canton city high school facility which seats 22,375 and can accommodate up to 1,500 in standing room. It is located directly across the street from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The first game of the series was played in 1962, a year before the Hall was opened. Except for 1966, there has been a Hall of Fame game in Canton every year since.

The Colts have a 2-1 record in Hall of Fame Games, including a 10-3 win over New Orleans when they last played in Canton, in 1996.

The Redskins are a perfect 4-0 in the Hall of Fame Game, prevailing in the event prior to the 1965, 1975, 1989, and 2004 seasons. In their most recent appearance, the Skins downed the Broncos by a 20-17 count.


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Team to Sit Host of Players For the Hall of Fame Game

The Redskins have ruled out a host of players for tomorrow's preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts, including several veterans who are being rested. Coach Jim Zorn will rely on primarily unproven talent to get through the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, unable to use about a dozen ailing players.

Zorn said starting tailback Clinton Portis, Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels, starting middle linebacker London Fletcher and newly acquired Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Taylor will not play, while the starters who do take part will do so for only a series or two on offense. The defense will rest most of its starters entirely.

The Redskins are being cautious with cornerback Carlos Rogers and linebacker Rocky McIntosh, both of whom are coming back from season-ending knee surgery, and neither will play, Zorn said.

Rookie wide receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly, both second-rounds picks dealing with hamstring injuries, will not play. Thomas is out probably another week or so, while Kelly continued to experience soreness in his limited practice reps this week.

Tailback Ladell Betts (thigh bruise), wide receiver Anthony Mix (hamstring) and safety LaRon Landry (hamstring) missed practice again yesterday and will not play, while defensive end Chris Wilson (calf strain) was back at practice but may sit out as well.

The Redskins also have a group of players recovering from recent surgery -- defensive lineman Anthony Montgomery, linebacker H.B. Blades and linebacker Rian Wallace -- who are at least another week or so from being able to practice again. Defensive end Erasmus James, who underwent offseason knee surgery, may be back by the end of the month.

No PUP List for Rogers

The Redskins had debated internally whether Rogers would need to open the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list, but giving him that designation is no longer an option.

When Rogers, who underwent major reconstructive knee surgery in November, was cleared for full participation in 11-on-11 drills this week, it made him ineligible to open the season on the PUP list and means he will count against the 53-man roster limit to open the season even if he is still not able to play in regular season games.

Zorn said in general his policy in such cases is to "err on the side of caution," but in this instance the team felt Rogers was ready to take part in drills and is making such strong strides that it would benefit him and the club to allow his practice workload to increase.

Zorn said the Redskins mulled placing rookie safety Kareem Moore on the PUP list -- which would have limited him to working individually with trainers and not taking part in practice -- after his surgically repaired knee swelled up recently, but he is pleased they opted against it. Moore will rejoin full practices this week and is showing signs of recovery.

End Zone

Washington's rookies will be touring the Hall of Fame this weekend before the game, but only a contingent of team officials, and no other players or coaches, will be attending the induction of former Redskins Art Monk and Darrell Green. The team will be in meetings tonight during the ceremonies and is staying in Cleveland, about one hour from Canton. . . .

Veteran linebacker Alfred Fincher, who was signed late this week, could participate in a limited special teams role tomorrow, Zorn said. Backup quarterback Todd Collins is scheduled to replace Campbell after the first or second series and play the rest of the first half, with rookie Colt Brennan starting the second half. . . .

Zorn excused offensive lineman Jason Fabini from the afternoon practice so he could attend to a family matter. Fabini, who left Redskins Park yesterday, will meet the team in Canton for the game.


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NFL Hall of Fame Game Betting Preview
by Robert Ferringo

Tired of baseball? Tired of betting on illegal dog fighting? Tired of staring out your window with a pellet gun aiming at the neighbors loud, obnoxious children? Sick of spending time with your wife and kids?

Well, take your head out of the oven and pick your chin up: FOOTBALL IS BACK!!!

The National Football League exhibition season begins this weekend in Canton, Ohio with the Hall of Fame Game between the Washington Redskins and the Indianapolis Colts. The game will be played at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 3 at Fawcett Stadium. This marks the beginning of Gambling Season, which is spearheaded by our true National Pasttime, and it opens with the Redskins as six-point favorites over Indy.

In a lot of ways the opening game of the National Football League exhibition season couldn't be more of a perfect specimen. It has all of the key elements involved in preseason football betting that make it unique for handicapping the regular season. And that includes both the maddening and the valuable elements.

See, if the Redskins were six-point favorites over the Colts during the regular season it would be a travel agent game; meaning that you would have to call your agent and tell him that you're going to pay for a week in the Bahamas in cash from the money you bank on the Colts. However, that's not the case here. And even though the Colts are the better regular season team they definitely deserve to be the underdog in this situation.

First, the Colts are sans Peyton Manning. Eli's brother is still rehabbing his left knee after an infected bursa sac was removed. That means that backup Jim Sorgi will be starting for Indy and, because he is technically the No. 1 quarterback while Peyton is sidelined, he will see limited snaps. That also means that the Colts will be getting deep into their QB depth chart very quickly considering that we'll likely only see Sorgi for a couple offensive series. Indy's current No. 3 and No. 4 quarterbacks are Quinn Gray and Jared Lorenzen, respectively, and neither is at all familiar with the Colts offense since they were pretty much picked up off the street a couple weeks ago.

Conversely, the Redskins are set at quarterback with their starter (Jason Campbell) a veteran backup (Todd Collins) and a rookie slinger (Colt Brennan).

Yet, just because the Redskins will be suiting up their starter that doesn't mean that they have an edge under center. Gray and Lorenzen are veterans when it comes to garbage time in preseason games. And just because they don't know the playbook that doesn't mean that they will be any worse off than Collins (first new offensive scheme of his career) or Brennan (first professional game of his career).

Second, Tony Dungy doesn't give a flying flute about the preseason. Dungy' s Colts are just 9-16 in the last five years during the preseason and are a woeful 2-11 during the Silly Season over the last three years. He has lost his preseason opener in four of the last six years. And on top of that, the Colts have to play five preseason games (as opposed to the standard four) so Dungy is going to care even less about this extra affair.

On the flip side, Washington has a brand-spanking new coach in Jim Zorn and, traditionally, virgin coaches are a strong value in their preseason opener. The idea is that first-year coaches are so fired up about making a good first impression that they are a bit more gung-ho and a bit more serious in their approach to their first exhibition game. Dungy, he of the Super Bowl rings and five straight division titles has nothing to prove. Yet Zorn, who is a head coach for the first time at any level, will want to get off on the right foot.

But that brings up yet another critical NFL handicapping issue during the preseason: who is actually going to play?

Zorn may have been a little too zealous in his preparation for the season. He has run a rigorous training camp and right now the veteran 'Skins team has been worn down by injuries. There is a host of players that will not be playing either due to injury or as a precautionary measure. That list includes their top two backs (Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts), Chris Samuels, London Fletcher, LaRon Landry, Carlos Rogers, Malcolm Kelly, Jason Taylor, and at least five other players who are either starters or rotation players.

For the Colts, Manning, Bob Sanders and Dwight Freeney will not even make the trip to Canton. Marvin Harrison is questionable and I will be stunned if he plays more than a series or two, if at all.

Another key motivational factor will likely be the strong Washington contingent that shows up in the crowd. Redskins greats Art Monk and Darrell Green will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame this weekend and I expect a pro-'Skins crowd at Fawcett Stadium.

Also, there is another tremendous coaching X-Factor - which is also a key component of preseason capping - that works against the Redskins. That is the fact that Washington is instilling new schemes on both offense and defense whereas the Colts players have been working the same system for several years now. That familiarity bodes well for the underdogs and I expect them to be a little sharper and a little more confident because of it.

So this one has it all. We have a coach making his debut against a coach who has proven that he couldn't care less about winning the preseason. We have a team with a solid system and foundation against one implementing totally new offensive and defensive schemes. We have motivational factors, a biased crowd at a neutral site, injury issues, and shaky quarterback rotations…


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Sunday NFL Research
By IndianCowboy

Colts vs. Redskins (Hall of Fame Game)

Redskins Preview

Colts face the Redskins here on the road and Washington opened up as a 6 point favorite I believe but this has been bought down to -5. Given that Indy is typically terrible in the preseason but obviously they pick it up in the regular season, the immediate lean here is on Washington, who looks to have a bounce-back season with a more veteran quarterback in Campbell. The Redskins if you remember surprised a lot of people near the end of last season people had them left for did and they resurged to a 9-7 record and some of those games late was without Campbell. With Cooley really deveoping into a superstar and the turmoil that faced this team, give this team a lot of credit for ending the seaosn with that 9-7 record. For the most part the Redskins have remained put during the off-season as they feel the team they have will get it done for the fall.

Keep in mind the Oddsmakers have this team set at:

Win NFC East at Washington Redskins +650
Win Super bowl at Washington Redskins +5000

Roughly 50% of the public favors Indy which explains the small drop in the initial spread, of 6 to 5. There are some key returners to the team and new additions:

Campbell returns from his injury, new draft pick Devin Thomas looks to stand out at wide-receiver as another target for Campbell, Fred Davis comes from Southern California and looks to give Cooley a breather as he waits in the wings in the second string, he is likely to be more of a blocking tightend when he enters given his bigger frame and Cooley on passing downs, the Redksins also drafted Malcolm Kelly from Oklahoma to address their receiver concerns as they add them to their top receiver Moss (who is also a heavy gambler from what much of what I've heard). McIntosh and Rogers note are also back from injury and will look to play at optimum level as well.


No more Mark Brunell as this team has finally moved away from him, of course, Brunell was never the same once he left Jacksonville, there is no more Reche Caldwell (from Florida) as this team went ahead and drafted 2 wide receivers and no more Brandon Lloyd as well (who had come over from the 49ers and was a disappointment).

Of course, this team has a new coaching staff in Zorn and with that comes new plays and new challenges. I expect this team in the regular season to start off slow and then to pick it up in the second half. I have the Redskins as a 8-8 or 9-7 team for the fall as this team will likely just miss or make it to the playoffs, either way, I just don't think they have the playmakers to go far in the playoffs and the best case scenario for them in my opinion is a first round playoff loss.

Colts Preview

Manning returns as he looks to continue his 160 games streak and Marvin Harrison looks to return for one more last hurray as is the same for Dungy it seems.

The current odds for the Colts to winning the Super Bowl in many books is 7:1. Remember, this team would have likely gone places if it was not for Harrison's injury that did not have him at optimum level.

What has been overlooked with this great Indy offense is how awesome this defense was last year and even without Freeney in the lineup for the second half, this team's coaching was phenomenal as their depth is second to none frankly with only the Pats equaling or matching this team's depth imo. This team has great depth keep in mind in tight end with Clark and Gonzalez, Wayne continues to dominate his position, and unlike the St. Louis Rams who used to have a dynamic duo with Bruce and Holt, this team actually has a defense to boot which is what makes them so strong, Addai continues to play well at back as well with more than a 1000 yards last season.

Of course, I have the Colts finishing 1st this season in the AFC South and have them going 13-3 this year. I believe it depends on injuries if they wish to dethrone the Patriots as AFC Champs - this year is no different than any other, I have the Colts and Patriots competing for the top spot as I believe Phillip Rivers and the Chargers defense are simply outclassed once again and I think an honorable mention goes to the Steelers who will cover many games at home, but once again, simply too much experience in the part of the Colts and Pats who will battle it out again this year.

ATS of this preseason game

For what it helps, both these teams have roughly the even love in public percentage around 50%, the total actually opened up at 35 offshore, and now has trickled down to 31, and there are some books where the line has come down to as far as -4.5 for the Redskins, if anything a lean on the Colts given the value here out of 31 points getting -4.5, as let's be honest, there is a 50/50 chance the Colts win here, heck, even a higher chance given their subs are better than the Colts starters and you get -5 points to boot on top of that, either way, probably just staying away [/b]as each time a new coach comes in, he looks to prove himself in the first few games irrelevant of preseason games[/b] and the Colts traditionally don't give a rat's tail about preseason.

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Re: Hall of Fame Game Preview

HOF Game Preview
By Josh Jacobs

Can you smell the fresh cut grass? How about the sounds of vendors screaming to sell their overpriced food and beverages? But more importantly, can you the feel the surface of that green tinted paper we call money?

With the first NFL preseason game getting ready to kickoff at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, bettors will either sigh and shy away in preparation for 17 weeks of pure bliss while others will be taking the Hall of Fame Game as a serious investment.

We’ve got plenty of homework to mull over whether betting on preseason or not. With that said let’s take a look at the HOF Game taking place on Sunday with the sole mission of taking advantage of mismatches, point spreads and/or total plays.

Hall of Fame Game – August 3 at 8:00 p.m. EDT

The first game to officially cut the tape on the 2008 preseason will pit two organizations with plenty of history to review. This will be the fifth time that the Redskins have participated in the Hall of Fame Game. Washington is a perfect 4-0 in Canton, with the last victory coming against Denver in 2004, 20-17. The ‘Skins were able to cover the spread as 2 ½-point favorites, while the 34 ½-point total registered as an ‘over’ play.

While the Colts are 2-1 in three career HOF games, a 15-10-1 advantage during their head-to-head, preseason meetings with Washington should be something to take into consideration. Then again, these two teams haven’t met in the preseason since 1981, so let’s just scratch that angle out of the equation.

Since we’re dealing with a depth chart that is bound to change from minute to minute, expectations from star players and key starters will force our handicapping techniques to focus on other factors. To start, Indianapolis has been a monster when installed as the ‘underdog’ in preseason games, going 21-15 against the spread. But that trend has been put to the test with the Colts going an average 4-4 ATS in their last eight (once again, preseason games).

If you want to delve deeper into past head-to-head history (minus preseason results) then be aware that Washington is 4-3 SU and ATS in its last seven pairings against Indy dating back to December, 1990. Total players rejoice because the ‘over’ has been golden at 6-1. Most books have set the total in those seven regular season meetings to an average of 43 points. Of course given the preseason nature of this Sunday contest, bodog.com has listed the total at a low, 31 ½-points.

The trends continue to roll in as the Colts are just 1-5 SU and 2-4 ATS in their last six preseason road games dating back to 2005. The margin of victory in Week 1 preseason play by all teams combined in both conferences at seven points has seen a spike of a 10-percent occurrence from 2004-07. Other then teams winning by exactly three points hitting a high 16.5-percent success rate over the same three years, the seven-point number is ranked as the second most probable margin to hit in Week 1 of the preseason. The reason why this is relevant; most books are currently listing the Redskins as six-point favorites (some are even going as far as to install the ‘Skins as seven-point favorites).

With four years of the Colts complex offensive system under his belt we can expect backup signal caller Jim Sorgi to take opening game snaps (with the latest reports indicating an extensive amount of time as starter). The Wisconsin graduate has recorded 751 passing yards with six touchdowns and one pick in his short NFL career and is coming off a 137-yard passing season with one score in 2007.    

The other two weapons behind center for Indianapolis will be Quinn Gray and hefty-left QB Jared Lorenzen. Gray is the athlete with more experience under his belt in the No. 3 position (given that Peyton Manning is healthy). His 986 passing yards with 10 TDs in four starts helped begin an NFL resume, but Jacksonville felt that Gray’s career 56.1-percent pass completion statistic was indicative of an underachiever, thus the trade to Indy during the offseason.

Washington backers should be cautious on how newly named head coach, Jim Zorn will handle his first game behind the clipboard. Zorn has made a name for himself as QB coach for Seattle and Detroit. We all know he’s got an emerging star in slinger Jason Campbell, but remaining focused on this HOF contest, what might we expect from QBs Todd Collins and Colt Brennan?

Redskins’ coach Zorn brings with him heavy emphasis on the West Coast offense so growing pains can be expected. With the run first pass second mentality, Washington might have problems with RB Ladell Betts (probable) sitting out of practice with a deep thigh bruise and releasing running back Eric Shelton on Thursday creates a few more question marks on Sunday’s backfield rotation.

Also take the Redskins’ defensive end injuries serious, as Jason Taylor and Andre Carter represent the two healthy starters. Rookie wide receivers Devin Thomas and Malcom Kelly are also experiencing health related issues so don’t forget to take all of this into consideration.

On the Colts' sideline expect the game plan to limit WR Marvin Harrison's playing time, while DE Dwight Freeney isn't expected to see action until the beginning of the regular season.

Since the AFC and NFC began playing each other in the HOF Game (1971), the total has seen a consistent average total of 30.4 PPG scored. In those 37 games, the total score has gone ‘under’ 30 points nineteen times.

Washington is a lonely 3-8 ATS over the past three years in preseason play, while Indianapolis is 2-11 SU and 3-10 ATS in its last 13 preseason contests (dating back to the 2005 season). Even worse for Colt backers is their 1-6 ATS record in the last seven when installed as the underdog.


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