Hall of Fame Game POWER-HOUSE ~ Won Last Year's (w/ Dallas)
Chicago vs. Baltimore,
08/02/2018 20:00 EDT,
Score: 16 - 17
Point Spread: +2½/+107 Chicago
8* Chicago (8:00 ET): I can only assume that it is Baltimore's "preseason reputation" that is responsible for the early line move in this year's Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. Under HC John Harbaugh, the Ravens have gone a remarkable 28-12 SU in the preseason including a perfect 4-0 three of the last four seasons. Not only that, but they were also a perfect 4-0 ATS last season (also 4-0 SU). Given that preseason lines are generally short, the ATS record (27-13) isn't that much different than the SU mark. When it comes to handicapping the preseason, so much comes down to the simple question of motivation. Obviously, Harbaugh's teams have proven to consistently have that edge over their opponents this time of year. But, for this game, I expect it to be the Bears that come out as the more motivated side. This is their first game under new HC Matt Nagy and I'm taking the points.
I view the Bears as a potential darkhorse in the NFC North this season. Minnesota and Green Bay are the obvious favorites, but don't be surprised if the Monsters of the Midway make it three playoff teams from the old "Black & Blue" division. Nagy's expertise is on the offensive side of the ball (comes over from the Chiefs where he was OC) and will be expected to tutor second year QB Mitchell Trubisky, who has a bevy of new weapons this year. The front office went out and added the following receivers via FA: Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel & (tight end) Trey Burton. For the defensive side of the ball, Nagy made a smart move and retained DC Vic Fangio, the one thing worth keeping from the failed Jox Fox regime. The Bears actually had a good defense LY as they ranked in the top 10 in both yards and points allowed.
Baltimore is obviously the more "known commodity" here, but that could lead to complacency. Despite still being buried by the albatross that is Joe Flacco's contract, the Ravens are thinking playoffs for 2018, which will be GM Ozzie Newsome's final season at the helm. I seriously doubt Flacco will play much here, if at all. That leaves the reigns to rookie Lamar Jackson, a former Heisman winner that is still learning the playbook, and Robert Griffin III, who was out of football entirely last year. That's hardly inspiring. Trubisky is certainly more likely to play than is Flacco and so are some of the Bears' starters. You have to think they'll want to impress their new HC and as underdogs, I'll gladly take them. 8* Chicago