Andrew Luck will see the field while Aaron Rodgers might be a mere onlooker when the Indianapolis Colts and the Green Bay Packers meet in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio on Sunday.
Being chosen to play in what is the unofficial kickoff to the NFL season gives a team five preseason games instead of the usual four, meaning one more exposure to possible injury. The Packers know full well about the perils of the preseason after top WR Jordy Nelson went down with a season-ending ACL injury last August. The Packers, who are the second favorite at +850 on the Super Bowl LI futures board, are pretty set on their starters.
Oddsmakers at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com have made Green Bay a one-point favorite for the Hall of Fame Game, and the total is set at 36 points.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy often sits his first-stringers as much as possible during the preseason. It’s doubtful Rodgers will make more than a token appearance. Second-year backup quarterback Brett Huntley has also missed practice this week due to an ankle injury. The next two men up at quarterback are Joe Callahan and Marquise Williams, who are each drafted free agents.
Green Bay is 11-9 straight-up and 9-11 against the spread in preseason games over the last five seasons, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. Since Rodgers became their starting QB in 2008, they are 4-4 SU and 3-5 ATS in preseason games when they are favored by three or fewer points.
Colts coach Chuck Pagano said on Thursday that Luck and all of the starters will play on Sunday, although he did not specify how long they will play. Interestingly enough, on a weekend when Packers legend Brett Favre is being inducted into the Hall of Fame while his former understudy Rodgers is in town, the Colts’ No. 2 QB is Scott Tolkien, who spent three seasons buried on the Packers’ depth chart.
At the very least, Tolkien has some NFL seasoning and insight into the Packers.
Indianapolis, which is listed at +2500 on the Super Bowl odds board, is just 6-14 ATS and 9-11 SU in the preseason over the last five years. That includes a 1-7 ATS and 2-6 SU trend over the last two years.
The total has gone over in 11 of the Packers’ last 20 preseason matchups, including five of the last six. The total has gone under in 11 of the Colts’ last 20 preseason games.
A team’s preseason record has no predictive value for the regular season, but that’s especially true for the Hall of Fame Game. In six of the last seven seasons, the game’s winner has failed to make the playoffs. The last time both teams made the playoffs was 2001.