Football fans can finally rejoice because NFL football will be played tonight. The time of the year has come when fans don’t care what teams are playing or what players are suiting up; they are just excited to see 22 guys in pads live in action. As always, the NFL preseason will begin tonight with the Hall of Fame Game, and the two teams taking the field this year will be the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns.
While fans will have to wait a bit longer to see Aaron Rodgers throw a live pass for the Jets, there is still football to be played and bet on. That said, we’ll be taking a look at what to expect tonight, along with the best ways to bet on the game.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh puts his undefeated preseason record on the line tonight with the Hard Knocks cameras patrolling the sidelines. In six preseason games as the Jets' head coach, Saleh has gone 6-0, and tonight he will send his backup quarterback Zach Wilson out to start the game and play for an undetermined amount of time.
Neither the Jets nor Browns will be playing starters tonight, which leaves more opportunities for veteran players trying to make the roster and for rookies to get their first taste of NFL action. Of those rookies, Jets running back Isreal Abanikanda, who rushed for 1,431 yards and 20 touchdowns at Pitt last season, could have an excellent opportunity to leave his mark on the game since the team will be running a very simple gameplan in Nathaniel Hackett’s first game as offensive coordinator.
As for the Browns, we will likely see rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson get extended action once tonight’s starter Kellen Mond is removed from the game. Mond will be getting his first action in a Browns uniform after spending his first two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. In three preseason games last season, the former Texas A&M Aggie threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns with a 56.9% completion percentage.
Mond’s new head coach, Kevin Stefanski, is 4-2 in preseason games, but much like Saleh, he has much bigger fish to fry than this meaningless early August football game. One of Cleveland’s overarching goals heading into this season is to fix their defense, which is why Hackett won’t be the only coordinator making his team debut tonight, as Jim Schwartz will be coaching his first game as Browns defensive coordinator.
When the initial lines came out, the Cleveland Browns opened as favorites, but with the news of who is playing and not playing, the New York Jets are now favored by (-1.5) across most shops. For my play, I’ll be backing the Jets to cover and for Robert Saleh to remain undefeated in the preseason.
It’s undetermined how long Zach Wilson will be under center tonight, but it is worth noting this is the first time in Wilson’s NFL career he’ll play without immense pressure. All eyes have been on him since day one of his career, but now with Aaron Rodgers as the starter, Wilson can play much more relaxed, which, even with a shell of a game plan, could mean we see him make some big plays against a backup defense.
Aside from Wilson, the true reason to target the Jets here is quarterback Chris Streveler, who has become a folk hero amongst sports bettors for his preseason success. In a game where neither team wants to show anything on offense, having a QB that you would take first overall in backyard football could make the difference, and Streveler is that guy. After throwing for five touchdowns, averaging 8.4 yards per attempt, and showing the ability to scramble last preseason, the Jets' 4th stringer is key to making your first NFL bet of the season a winner.
New York Jets (-1.5)