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Football kicks with Hall of Fame game

Aug 3, 2004 6:24 AM

The long, agonizing wait is over. Football is back.

Well, sort of. NFL training camps have opened and the 2004 season kicks off with the annual Hall of Fame game next Monday in Canton, Ohio.

The NFL likes to refer to the next four weeks as the "pre-season" but it really is the "exhibition" season. These games don’t count in the standings and coaches are more interested in evaluating players than winning games.

Nevertheless, the games will have point spreads and totals posted in the casinos, and that means players will bet them.

Actually, betting pre-season games can be profitable. The fact that winning is not the ultimate goal does not prevent favorable situations from arising during August. Keep reading GamingToday as we will point out those situations.

For instance, teams whose rosters are "set" entering the preseason are poor propositions. The starters see limited playing time and the second and third stringers often play the bulk of games.

For the Hall of Fame Game, the Washington Redskins have opened and remain 2½ point favorites over the Denver Broncos. The total opened at 34½ and has climbed to 35 in some sports books.

Washington welcomes back Joe Gibbs for a second tenure as coach after more than a decade away from the game. Gibbs inherits some fine talent on the Redskins, a team most consider greatly underachieved during the short reign of Steve Spurrier as head coach.

The problem the ”˜Skins face is uncertainty at quarterback where several candidates shall vie for the starting position, none of whom is considered to be a potential All Pro. The ground game is solid with the acquisition of Clinton Portis from their current opponent, Denver.

Consequently Denver figures to be more interested in finding out who their best running back will be with quarterback Jake Plummer firmly entrenched. Washington should be more interested in working on their QB rotation.

There thought here is that Washington might be the better bet in this game for several reasons. Gibbs’ teams always fared well in preseason during his initial tenure in Washington because they are disciplined and well prepared. Also, with a new regime in the nation’s capital, there are many positions open for competition. Things are more set in stone in Denver.

Although more specific information should come to light as to objectives and player rotations later in the week, the initial thoughts lean to Washington as the right bet in this game, especially if the line remains under a field goal. For "total" bettors, the "under" at 35 or more should be considered.

Enjoy the start to the season!