Fans have been waiting for this moment since February – football is finally back. Well, preseason football, at least, as the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Las Vegas Raiders meet up at the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
Preseason games can be a bit tough to handicap, especially this ‘extra’ one for the Jaguars and Raiders. We aren’t likely to see many big names play on Thursday night – at least not more than a series just to get loose. The Raiders are -2.5 favorites in this spot.
Jaguars Want to Set a Winning Mentality
The Jaguars have some value at +2.5 because it would seem they actually want/need this victory. The team is trying to wash the bad taste of last year’s Urban Meyer experience out of their mouth, and new coach Doug Pederson is focusing on growth, not dysfunction.
It’s already been announced that Trevor Lawrence will not play in Thursday night’s game (nor will RB Travis Etienne, who missed all of his rookie season in 2021). That means C.J. Beathard will get a bulk of the snaps at quarterback, which also gives the Jaguars some value as he has 12 NFL starts under his belt.
Whether they play extensively or not, Beathard will have some new targets on offense as the Jaguars signed Christian Kirk and Zay Jones to bolster their receiving corps. Another big addition for Jacksonville was #1 draft pick Travon Walker, who could see his first NFL snaps as part of last year’s #20 ranked defense in total yards.
Raiders Will Wait to Debut New Toys
Despite some major offseason moves, the Raiders are still 40/1 to win Super Bowl LVII (Jaguars 125/1). It’s not that Las Vegas is going to be a bad team this year; it’s just that they are in what looks like the toughest division in the NFL, with the Chiefs, Chargers, and Broncos (with the addition of Russell Wilson) all playoff contenders.
Las Vegas’ biggest addition this offseason was acquiring Davante Adams from the Packers for this year’s first and second-round picks. Derek Carr is not playing in the HOF Game, so it doesn’t seem realistic that Adams would because there’s no chemistry to work on with backup Jarrett Stidham.
Stidham will get the first crack at QB on Thursday for the Raiders, coming over in a trade with New England in the offseason. Stidham did not see the field in 2021, not being activated until Week 10 as he was on the PUP list with a back injury. That being said, Stidham does know new coach Josh McDaniels’ offense from his time with the Patriots.
Jaguars vs. Raiders Pick and Prediction
Flip a coin in this matchup. The condensed preseason will make the next three weeks a little easier to predict who will play and for how long, but get your programs out for the extra Hall of Fame game. Not only do we not know the players for Thursday night’s game, but we also have two new coaches to integrate as well.
In a game that could legitimately go either way, it seems like you take the points. Both coaches are new – but also experienced. Each wants to get the victory and start a winning culture, but it would seem like Pederson’s offense is going to be a bit more basic – and thus easier to run against third and fourth-string players.
Pick: Jaguars +2.5