Every year, the NFL kicks off its preseason with the Hall of Fame game exhibition. Typically this features extremely sloppy football between two teams just getting into the swing of things, but critically, it is a football game.
What to know
What: NFL Hall of Fame exhibition game, featuring the Chicago Bears & Baltimore Ravens
Where: Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton, Ohio
When: Thursday, August 2 at 8 p.m. EST
Streaming: NBC Sports Live
Odds: C’mon man
What to look for
Chicago’s a team on the rise, per most everyone you talk to. They have an interesting young quarterback, an intriguing group of skilled position players, and the makings of an interesting defense. They’re probably a year away, especially if they alienate their stud rookie linebackers every year, but the talent is there.
In this game, you’ll want to look for how it’s starting to come together. It was impossible to figure out how good Mitch Trubisky was a year ago because John Fox’s offense basically put him in handcuffs and cement shoes and tossed him over the side of a bridge and into the chilly waters of the river below, but with a better offensive mind running the show, Chicago should be much more effective this season.
The attraction here is Lamar Jackson, in my opinion. The Ravens have a very good young back in Alex Collins, but their offense still looks like it’ll be moribund under Joe Flacco and with the weapons they have in the passing game. It’ll be interesting to see if Jackson can change that and how good Flacco looks in preseason, to see if there’s any chance of the rookie unseating the veteran in the near future.
It’ll also be good to have a sense of how good the Ravens are, not that you can get that from any one preseason game. They’ve been a team with just enough talent to push for the postseason in the weaker conference in recent years, but there’s always been enough here to think there could be more.
Where will you watch the game?