After six months without football, the action returns on Thursday with the 2019 NFL Hall of Fame Game, the annual start of the preseason. The Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons kick off from Tom Benson Stadium in Canton at 8 p.m. ET. Four of the last five Hall of Fame Games have been decided by four points or fewer, and only once since 2008 has the game been decided by double-figures. Both teams have connections to the Hall of Fame Class of 2019. Former Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez and Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and former cornerback Champ Bailey are among the inductees this time around. Last year, the Ravens edged the Dolphins 17-16 in a game that marked the debut of Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson, and Thursday’s game marks the head coaching debut for longtime NFL assistant Vic Fangio. The current Falcons vs. Broncos odds list Denver as a 2.5-point favorite, while the over-under is 34. You’ll want to hear what SportsLine’s R.J. White is saying about the matchup before making any Falcons vs. Broncos picks and 2019 NFL Hall of Fame Game predictions.
White has been SportsLine’s top pro football analyst for two-plus seasons. Over that span, the CBS Sports NFL editor and nationally recognized NFL Draft expert has gone 214-164 on NFL picks against the spread, returning over $3,200 to $100 bettors.
The last time White made a pick on a NFL game, it was the 2019 Super Bowl. White was all over the Patriots, nailing the year’s biggest sporting event for the legions that follow him. White said he wouldn’t trust Rams QB Jared Goff in a big spot, and Goff’s bumbling performance was key to New England’s 13-3 win.
The stats guru, whose picks are coveted by fans everywhere, has cashed huge in the world’s most prestigious handicapping tournament, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest, twice in the past four years. Anyone who has followed him is way up.
Now, White has analyzed the rosters and made his pick for Broncos vs. Falcons in the 2019 Hall of Fame Game. We can tell you he’s leaning under, but his most confident pick is against the spread. He’s only sharing that pick at SportsLine.
White knows the Broncos come in with a renewed sense of optimism. Fangio, a 33-year assistant coach in the NFL, finally receives his shot as the head man in Denver. New Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco, the longtime Ravens signal-caller who was traded to the Mile High City in February, will likely give way after one series to Drew Lock, the rookie second-round pick out of Missouri. Kevin Hogan and another rookie, Brett Rypien, will likely see considerable time behind center.
Fangio led the Bears‘ defense to a No. 1 ranking in 2018 and looks to turn around a Broncos defense that was No. 1 in 2017 but plummeted to 22nd last season. Plus, the Falcons are not preseason warriors, going 0-4 last year while scoring just 27 total points.
But just because Denver may have added motivation with Fangio at the helm doesn’t mean it’s the best value on the Falcons vs. Broncos money line.
While also knows Atlanta finished just 7-9 and missed out on the playoffs last year, but former offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is back in that role following three seasons as head coach of the Buccaneers. Koetter will get a long look at backup quarterbacks Matt Schaub and Kurt Benkert on Thursday, as well as the depth of an offensive line that was revamped after allowing 42 sacks of Matt Ryan last year.
Atlanta was ravaged by injuries on both sides of the ball last year, but is healthy for the NFL Hall of Fame Game 2019. The Falcons have historically played their starters just one series in their preseason opener, but the team has only six rookies on its second and third strings. While Denver works out the kinks with a new head coach, the Falcons could hit Canton sharper out of the gate.
White has broken down the depth charts of both teams and unearthed the critical factor that makes one side of the spread a must-back. He’s only sharing what it is, and who to back, at SportsLine.
Who wins Falcons vs. Broncos? And what critical factor makes one side of the spread a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the 2019 NFL Hall of Fame Game spread you should jump on, all from the top NFL expert who’s brought in more than $3,200 the last two seasons, and find out.