The 2019 NFL pre-season kicks off with the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game from Canton, Ohio, on Thursday night.
This year, it features the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons. Denver is a short betting favourite on the Sports Interaction NFL board.
Hall of Fame Game Date, Odds and History
The annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game from Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton (the late Benson owned the New Orleans Saints) was moved from Sunday night to Thursday night a few years ago. In recent years, the NFL has tried to feature teams that were to have representatives enshrined into the Hall during the weekend. The Denver Broncos will have two of them this weekend in late owner Pat Bowlen and former cornerback Champ Bailey, while the Atlanta Falcons will have arguably the NFL’s best-ever receiving tight end in Tony Gonzalez enter the Hall.
Both the Broncos and Falcons are 1-2 all-time in this game. Denver hasn’t played in it since 2004 and Atlanta not since 1994. Because these teams are in this game, they were able to open training camp before any other teams and will be the only clubs to play five pre-season games instead of four. Don’t expect to see usual starters play much if at all. The game will take place on Thursday, Aug. 1 at 8 pm ET.
This will be the head coaching debut of the Broncos’ Vic Fangio. While most NFL teams these days are hiring head coaches with an offensive background, Denver boss John Elway – a Hall of Famer himself – opted to focus on defence. Fangio was the coordinator of the Chicago Bears’ top-ranked defence in 2018. Not clear if we will get a look at new Broncos starting quarterback Joe Flacco, acquired this off-season in trade from the Baltimore Ravens.
No. 1 receiver Emmanuel Sanders had his 2018 season end early due to an Achilles injury and likely won’t play at all this pre-season. Broncos fans should get a look Thursday at rookie quarterback Drew Lock, a second-round pick out of Missouri. Unless he’s a bust, Lock should take over for Flacco at some point this season unless Flacco somehow finds the fountain of youth and Denver is better than expected.
Most pre-season games will feature a spread of 3 points or fewer as this one does. Atlanta is just 5-11 in the pre-season under Coach Dan Quinn, who is probably on the hot seat this year. The franchise might be moving backward under Quinn. The Falcons should have won the Super Bowl following the 2016 season but inexplicably blew a 28-3 third-quarter lead to the Patriots. The team did reach the playoffs the next year but lost in the Divisional Round.
Last year, Atlanta sunk to 7-9 – although the team was ravaged by injuries. Superstar receiver Julio Jones is dealing with a foot injury and won’t play Thursday and maybe not at all this pre-season.
Broncos 20, Falcons 17