February 21, 2024

Congratulations everyone, you did it. As Zach kindly told you in this morning’s newsletter, the NFL season kicks off tonight with the Hall of Fame Game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Las Vegas Raiders. Also, shout out to Zach, who has been roughing it lately.

He’s been able to write the newsletter every morning this week, despite the fact that he can barely see as his eyes are swollen with tears over the Washington Nationals trading for Juan Soto. But Zach is a pro. He is a soldier and he does his job, no matter how much it hurts. I hope the sweet sounds of preseason football help soothe your wounded soul, Zach.

I’ll have a lot more for you on tonight’s game soon, but first, let’s check out all the latest news.

Now, are you ready for some football?

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

Raiders vs. Jaguars, 8 p.m. | Television: NBC

Latest odds:

Below 30.5

  • Basic trend: Since 2010, the Hall of Fame Game has averaged 29.5 points, with only three of eight games scoring 31 points or more.
  • The Pick: Under 30.5 (-110)

I don’t know how often we’ll be betting on preseason NFL games this month, but you’d be crazy if you thought we wouldn’t bet on the first preseason game of the season. The Hall of Fame game is a tradition! It is not one exciting tradition, but it is tradition all the same. You spend all summer preparing yourself for the return of football, and then, finally, the game starts and you’re quickly reminded that it’s a preseason game — a glorified game that’s quickly losing its luster.

The only thing that could make me pay more attention than the opening minutes is having money in the game, and hey, well, would you watch this? We put money in the game!

There are some obvious reasons to bet the under tonight. The first is that defense tends to come faster in training camp than offense. Another factor to consider is that you won’t see the best camp or skill players on any roster play much tonight, if at all. This limits the offensive ceiling, as well as playcalling. The Hall of Fame game rarely turns into penalties and the under is 12-7 in the game since 2000. Yes, some watch these things.

Here’s what SportsLine has to say about the game: Want another opinion on the game? SportsLine expert Larry Hartstein shared his thoughts and opinions.

💰 The Options


Braves at Mets, 7:10 p.m. | Television: MLB.TV

Latest odds:

Over 8

The Pick: Over 8 (-120) — This is the first of a massive five-game series between the top two teams in the NL East, but while Mets and Braves fans will live and die by each ballpark, believing the entire season rests on each, we’ll be chilling and rooting for runs. The weather forecast in New York tonight calls for conditions that will be beneficial for offenses, with two starting pitchers who are solid but not overly dominant in hitting.

Atlanta’s Kyle Wright and New York’s Carlos Carrasco have above-average and below-average walk rates, but neither is at an elite level. They also both allow quite a bit of hard contact, and with the set so low and the weather, any contact could haunt them. Finally, both are offenses that have been smoking the ball lately. The Braves rank fifth in baseball in run percentage over the last week, while the Mets have posted a ridiculous .945 OPS over the last seven days, the highest mark in the league.

Basic Voltage: The over is 4-1 in the last five meetings at Citi Field.

Rays at Tigers, 7:10 p.m. | TV: FS1

Latest odds:

Detroit Tigers +158

The Pick: Tigers (+158) — The Rays are not playing their best baseball right now. They have lost eight of their last 11 and look a little vulnerable tonight. While Tampa won 3-2 at Toronto on Wednesday, it won by using five pitchers in a bullpen game. That means we don’t know who is available tonight and for how long, and that creates a problem with Jeffrey Springs starting for Tampa tonight.

Springs has been solid this season, posting a 2.70 ERA in 73.1 innings, but started the year as a reliever before working his way into the rotation. Springs’ last 12 appearances have all come as a starter, but he is averaging just five innings per start and has failed to complete five innings in three of his last five starts. He’s also posted a 5.32 ERA in those five starts, and while no one will consider the Tigers a great offense, they perform much better against lefties like Springs. If Springs’ recent form holds, the Tigers continue to hit lefties well, and then get to a tired Rays pen, this could get out of hand.

Basic Voltage: The Rays are 1-5 in their last six road games.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Premier League season kicks off on Friday evening and SportsLine’s football expert Martin Green has shared all the best plays for the first leg between Arsenal and Crystal Palace..

⚾ Thursday Night Dinge Party

We’re betting on these two Houston Astros sluggers to go deep tonight in Cleveland.

  • Yordan Alvarez (+185)
  • Kyle Tucker (+300)

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