As the NFL season draws closer, the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins prepare to play in the annual Hall of Fame Game (8pm ET, Sunday, August 4). The game, which is preceded by the induction of several players into the NFL’s Canton, Ohio Hall of Fame, serves as the first preseason action of the 2013-14 season.
And with two teams with much to prove, despite this game being meaningless in the standings, both the Cowboys and Dolphins will have their own motivations for wanting to emerge victorious.
Sportsbooks have the Dolphins listed as three point favorites. This move comes after it was announced that Dallas’ quarterback, Tony Romo, may not play in the game. Before the announcement, Dallas was actually listed as the 1.5 point favorites. The total stands at 34 points and we give our advice about the betting angles at the end of this preview.
It’s All in the Coaching
With the nature of preseason football, it is very difficult to make bets based on the teams. For starters, there are no rankings, either defensively or offensively as of yet. In fact, it is the preseason that gives a sense of what the teams will be and what they will look like.
Considering that this is the first game too, a lot will be learned about both the Cowboys and Dolphins in terms of their personnel and the strengths and weaknesses of the team. The game itself will feature a revolving door of players and the first string squad will likely play one quarter or less.
For that reason, smart betting would not be to value how the first teamers look. If Tony Romo does play in the game, as mentioned, it would only be for a short time. Since he has yet to really practice as well, his ability on the field won’t be anywhere near what you would expect during the regular season.
It is for that reason that the key to preseason football betting lies with the coaches and how their philosophies affect the contest.
So to that avail, let’s take a look at the head coach of the Dolphins, Joe Philbin.
Philbin is entering just his second season as the head coach of the Dolphins. Last year, his team went 0-4 in the preseason both straight up and against the spread. In all, Miami scored just 43 points in the four games whereas their defense gave up 96. In the regular season, Miami won just seven games, struggling especially in the very tough AFC East.
Based on how poorly Miami performed during last year’s preseason coupled with the team’s aspirations and expectations for 2013, there is very good reason to expect that Philbin hits the ground running with his improved squad. There is also the matter of pride at stake as the last time the Dolphins took on the Cowboys, Dallas won by a score of 30-13.
Expect backup quarterback Matt Moore to play a large part in Miami’s preseason offense. He is the second string quarterback to Ryan Tannehill and is currently in his seventh season in the league. It is his second year with Miami.
Moore though has a lot to prove. He is the obvious number two on the depth chart but just two seasons ago, he was the top starter in Miami. But as he had with former team, the Carolina Panthers, Moore lost his starting job to a rookie.
Garrett got a nice start to his offseason when he learned from Jerry Jones that he was not in fact on the hot seat. But with the Cowboys recording zero playoff wins in his first two full years with the team and never having above an 8-8 season, it is unknown how long he will have that job security.
And with that noted, Garrett has a lot on the line in this preseason game too. The Cowboys then are going to be expected to come out strong, showing off their brand new running game which Garrett has stressed will be a big part of the 2013 season.
For that reason, it will be important to watch DeMarco Murray in the Hall of Fame Game. As a first team starter with injury history, Murray probably will not be on the field for many snaps, but when he is on the field, expect him to have the ball often.
When Murray doesn’t have the ball, Kyle Orton, backup quarterback will. Like Moore, Orton is a journeyman and one who is no stranger to having and losing a starting job. With the Cowboys, he is the unquestionable number two on the depth chart but with the questions surrounding Romo’s health, Orton may get his fair share of snaps. Knowing that, Orton will want to showcase his ability to still start with a strong performance in his first preseason game of 2013.
New Year, New Faces
Since this is the first preseason game for these two teams, it will give an opportunity to get to know the new players on each team. With that, it will also serve as a bit of a proving ground for these rookies. For those drafted high like Cowboys’ center Travis Frederick or Dolphins’ third overall pick Dion Jordan, expectations are lofty. Both of these players are going to be staked to huge roles in 2013 and a strong start to the preseason is a perfect way to prove that they were worth the high draft picks.
Other than drafted players however, both of these teams have new players and ones that could also look to prove themselves with their new teams. For the Dolphins this includes the upgrades made on offense with top tier wide receiver Mike Wallace and tight end Dustin Keller. These two were signed to bolster a very weak Miami offense as the hope is for the Dolphins to be a playoff team.
Miami vs. Dallas Betting Picks Verdict
Miami is desperate for a positive result and overall does have a better team entering the preseason. They should have an advantage regardless of who is taking the snaps for Dallas.