The NFL Starts Action Tonight with the Hall of Fame Game

The NFL preseason kicks off tonight with the Hall of Fame Game in Canton Ohio. The Dallas Cowboys will take on the Miami Dolphins as 2.5 point underdogs, with the total set at 32.5.

Tony Romo won’t be starting for the Cowboys. Dallas Coach Jason Garrett is using caution with his franchise quarterback, who signed a $120 million contract extension this off-season. Romo underwent surgery in April to have a cyst remove from his back, but has been participating in training camp practices. Kyle Orton will be the Cowboys’ starting quarterback, with Nick Stephens and Alex Tanney getting a lot of playing time as well.

The Dolphins will play their starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill. However, he isn’t expected to get much action Backup quarterback Matt Moore should get the biggest chunk of snaps for Miami.

The Dolphins are a mess offensively. Their shuffled offensive line is not at a quality NFL level, and they are having injury problems at wide receiver. Joe Philbin is in his second year as head coach for Miami. He went 0-4 both straight up and against the spread last year. This time around, the Dolphins are out to win some exhibition games and show they can contend in the AFC East. Philbin’s main focus this summer is playing with speed, which should be easy with some new additions to the WR corps. Miami brought in WRs Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson as well as TE Dustin Keller. Wallace and fellow receiver Brian Hartline hope to play Sunday after returning from injuries this week.

The Cowboys were last in the Hall of Fame game in 2010. The offense was ugly in that game, failing to score a touchdown and scoring just three teams on field goals. I expect another conservative performance from Dallas tonight. They have two new coordinators this year, and are switching from the 3-4 defense to the 4-3 Cover 2.

Trends: Favorites are 9-6 SU and 7-6-2 SU ATS since 1996 with those games going 8-7 over/under. Four of the last six Hall of Fame Games have played under the total, with the 2011 HoF Game cancelled due to the NFL lockout.

Dallas is 1-3 straight up all-time in the Hall of Fame Game, with a 2-0 against the spread record and 1-1 over/under mark with spreads available. Miami boasts a 0-3 straight up mark all-time in the Hall of Fame Game, going 0-1-1 ATS and 1-1 O/U with odds available. These teams met in Week 4 of the 2012 preseason, with the Cowboys winning 30-13 as 2.5-point home favorites. Dallas and Miami have met eight times in the regular season since 1987, with the teams splitting those meetings 4-4 SU and ATS and going 2-6 over/under.

Dodgers Push Back Greinke, Activate Fife off DL to go for Series Sweep


Los Angeles Dodgers (-119) at Chicago Cubs (+110, 8 O/U )

The red-hot Dodgers, riding a franchise record 13 game road winning streak, will go for the sweep at Wrigley Field today against the struggling Cubs. Right-hander Stephen Fife, 3-3 with a 2.76 earned run average in 2013, will be the starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers in their road matchup with the Chicago Cubs. Fife is expected to be activated from the DL and start in place of Zack Greinke. The club wants to give Greinke and the rest of the rotation extra rest. Fife has made two rehab starts at AAA Albuquerque, throwing 10 innings total and allowing just two earned runs with a 13-2 strikeout/walk ratio. The Dodgers have gone over the total in 38% of his starts. He went on the disabled list on July 7th with shoulder bursitis.

Right-hander Carlos Villanueva will take the mound for the home team. Villanueva has struggled against NL West teams, going 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA in six games (four starts) vs. NL West teams. He will be happy to put July in the rear-view mirror. Villanueva hasn’t won a game since June 29th, and is 0-3 with a 6.11 ERA in six games in July. The Cubs have gone over the total in 54% of his starts. Forecasts are calling for 73°F temperatures with winds blowing in from left field at 9 mph. The humidity will be around 53%. There is a 10% chance of precipitation.

Los Angeles Dodgers versus Villanueva: 29 years old right-hander, 6’2” 230 pounds. Throws: fastball, changeup, slider, curve

Runs per game (league ranking), 29 (3.37 per game) : Home Runs, 26 (20 HRs)

    Bat Ave, 15 (.250) : OB%, 7 (.327) : Slugging, 28 (.362)

      Walks, 7 (3.5 per game) : Strikeouts, 25 (6.8) : Stolen Bases, 23 (11 SBs)

      Last seven games, 8 (.730 OPS) : Last 14 games, 4 (.788 OPS) : Last 28 games, 4 (.758 OPS)

        Versus Righties, 14 (.721 OPS) : Versus lefties, 7 (.730 OPS)

          Home, 24 (.683 OPS) : Away, 2 (.763 OPS)

            1st Inning Production, 19 (.704 OPS)

              Facing a Power Pitcher, 11 (.694 OPS) : Facing a Finesse Pitcher, 25 (.726 OPS)

                Facing a fly ball pitcher, 11 (.748 OPS) : Facing a ground ball pitcher, 14 (.714 OPS)

                  Run Production at Night, 11 (.732 OPS) : Run Production During Day, 15 (.702 OPS)

                    First five innings, 14 (.737 OPS) : 6th to 9th Innings, 17 (.687 OPS)

                      Chicago Cubs versus Fife: 26 years old right-hander, 6’3” 210 pounds. Throws: fastball, curve, slider, changeup

                      Ground Ball Pitcher

                      Runs per game (league ranking), 26 (3.57 per game) : Home Runs, 3 (36 HRs)

                        Bat Ave, 25 (.237) : OB%, 27 (.293) : Slugging, 9 (.415)

                          Walks, 29 (2.4 per game) : Strikeouts, 17 (7.4) : Stolen Bases, 3 (22 SBs)

                          Last seven games, 17 (.673 OPS) : Last 14 games, 25 (.661 OPS) : Last 28 games, 11 (.721 OPS)

                            Versus Righties, 15 (.710 OPS) : Versus lefties, 16 (.697 OPS)

                              Home, 8 (.761 OPS) : Away, 27 (.654 OPS)

                                1st Inning Production, 18 (.720 OPS)

                                  Facing a Power Pitcher, 10 (.695 OPS) : Facing a Finesse Pitcher, 22 (.736 OPS)

                                    Facing a fly ball pitcher, 18 (.711 OPS) : Facing a ground ball pitcher, 14 (.714 OPS)

                                      Run Production at Night, 18 (.704 OPS) : Run Production During Day, 10 (.709 OPS)

                                        First five innings, 15 (.728 OPS) : 6th to 9th Innings, 24 (.671 OPS)

                                          Reds Go For Series Win at Home Against St. Louis

                                          St. Louis Cardinals (+117) at Cincinnati Reds (-127, 8 O/U )

                                          The Cincinnati Reds hope to carry the momentum from last night’s 8-3 win over wild-card competitor St. Louis Cardinals in today’s rubber game matchup between NL Central division foes. Right-hander Lance Lynn takes the mound tonight for the road team St. Louis Cardinals. He is 12-5 on the year with a 3.87 ERA. Lynn pitched well in his two most recent starts, allowing eight hits and two runs over 13 innings. He was struggling with controlling his emotions and keeping a solid pace while on the mound, but those problems weren’t evident over his last two starts. The Cardinals are 14-8 in games started by him, and have gone over 43% of those games. The Cincinnati Reds will send right-hander Mike Leake out as their starter; he has a 13-8 record so far in 2013. Leake struggled early in his seven-scoreless inning no-decision vs. San Diego on Monday, but was dominant the final four innings, retiring 12 of the final 13 batters he faced. The Reds are 13-8 in games started by him, and have gone over 52% of those games. The game time temperature will be 76° F with winds blowing from left field to right at 9 mph. The humidity will be around 52%. No rain is expected in this game.

                                          St. Louis Cardinals versus Leake: 25 years old right-hander, 6’1” 185 pounds. Throws: fastball, cutter, changeup, curve

                                          Finesse Pitcher

                                          Runs per game (league ranking), 10 (4.54 per game) : Home Runs, 24 (21 HRs)

                                            Bat Ave, 15 (.250) : OB%, 20 (.311) : Slugging, 26 (.370)

                                              Walks, 26 (2.7 per game) : Strikeouts, 24 (6.6) : Stolen Bases, 28 (8 SBs)

                                              Last seven games, 15 (.677 OPS) : Last 14 games, 22 (.671 OPS) : Last 28 games, 13 (.712 OPS)

                                                Versus Righties, 6 (.757 OPS) : Versus lefties, 17 (.695 OPS)

                                                  Home, 10 (.752 OPS) : Away, 8 (.733 OPS)

                                                    1st Inning Production, 16 (.733 OPS)

                                                      Facing a Power Pitcher, 15 (.657 OPS) : Facing a Finesse Pitcher, 3 (.808 OPS)

                                                        Facing a fly ball pitcher, 9 (.752 OPS) : Facing a ground ball pitcher, 14 (.714 OPS)

                                                          Run Production at Night, 5 (.756 OPS) : Run Production During Day, 11 (.707 OPS)

                                                            First five innings, 10 (.750 OPS) : 6th to 9th Innings, 8 (.709 OPS)

                                                              Cincinnati Reds versus Lynn: 26 years old right-hander, 6’5” 250 pounds. Throws: fastball, curve, slider, changeup

                                                              Runs per game (league ranking), 13 (4.41 per game) : Home Runs, 21 (27 HRs)

                                                                Bat Ave, 21 (.243) : OB%, 10 (.325) : Slugging, 25 (.377)

                                                                  Walks, 3 (3.8 per game) : Strikeouts, 7 (8) : Stolen Bases, 28 (8 SBs)

                                                                  Last seven games, 11 (.697 OPS) : Last 14 games, 10 (.738 OPS) : Last 28 games, 9 (.732 OPS)

                                                                    Versus Righties, 13 (.726 OPS) : Versus lefties, 10 (.717 OPS)

                                                                      Home, 13 (.741 OPS) : Away, 15 (.707 OPS)

                                                                        1st Inning Production, 7 (.808 OPS)

                                                                          Facing a Power Pitcher, 9 (.700 OPS) : Facing a Finesse Pitcher, 14 (.751 OPS)

                                                                            Facing a fly ball pitcher, 5 (.769 OPS) : Facing a ground ball pitcher, 14 (.714 OPS)

                                                                              Run Production at Night, 8 (.735 OPS) : Run Production During Day, 12 (.706 OPS)

                                                                                First five innings, 12 (.749 OPS) : 6th to 9th Innings, 16 (.690 OPS)