Teams looking to start the new season on a positive note meet in the 2021 Hall of Fame Game as the Dallas Cowboys take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday to get the 2021 NFL preseason kicks off. The Cowboys were favored to win the NFC East last year but slumped to a disappointing 6-10 record. The Steelers started the 2020 season on fire, going 11-0 but limped to the finish line at 12-4. Pittsburgh was then beaten in the AFC wild card game by Cleveland.

The NFL Hall of Fame Game 2021 is set to get underway at 8 p.m. ET from Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. The Steelers have won three of the last five meetings with the Cowboys, including a 24-19 win at Dallas on Nov. 8, 2020. Caesars Sportsbook lists Pittsburgh as a 2.5-point favorite in the latest Cowboys vs. Steelers odds. The over-under for total points is set at 31.5. Before finalizing any Steelers vs. Cowboys picks, be sure to see the 2021 Hall of Fame Game predictions from SportsLine's Emory Hunt

Hunt is the founder and CEO of Football Gameplan, which has been supplying analysis of all levels of football since 2007, and a former running back at Louisiana-Lafayette. He knows the game from a player's perspective.

Hunt has had plenty of success in games involving the Dallas Cowboys. In fact, he's gone 27-18 in his last 45 against-the-spread NFL picks involving the Cowboys, returning $725 to $100 players during that run. Anybody who has been following him is way up.

Now, Hunt has locked in on Cowboys vs. Steelers from every angle and released a confident against-the-spread pick. You can visit SportsLine now to see it. Here are several NFL lines and trends for Steelers vs. Cowboys:

  • Cowboys vs. Steelers spread: Steelers -2.5
  • Cowboys vs. Steelers over-under: 31.5 points
  • Cowboys vs. Steelers money line: Cowboys +125, Steelers -145
  • DAL: Last played in the Hall of Fame Game in 2017, beating Arizona 20-18
  • PIT: Last played in the Hall of Fame Game in 2015, losing 14-3 to Minnesota
Featured Game | Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Dallas Cowboys

Why the Steelers can cover

Coach Mike Tomlin said he is embracing the extra week of practice and extra preseason game this year after the league moved to a 17-game regular-season schedule. One of those players who is expected to benefit is quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who was picked in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Washington Football Team. After failing to seize the starting job, he was released and signed by the Steelers this offseason. In 2018, Haskins set the single season passing and touchdown records for Ohio State and the Big Ten by passing for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns. In seven games last season with Washington, he threw for 1,439 yards and five touchdowns, but was picked off seven times.

Third-year veteran quarterback Mason Rudolph will also get his shot. In 2019, the rookie took over for an injured Ben Roethlisberger and threw for 1,765 yards and 13 touchdowns, but was intercepted nine times. In 2020, Rudolph played in five games, completing 25 of 43 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns. He will need to make a good impression to secure a backup position this year.

Why the Cowboys can cover 

Dallas is expected to play a number of rookies and second-year players who will be looking to make an early impact. One of those expected to see a lot of action is rookie third-round draft pick Nahshon Wright, a cornerback from Oregon State. As a junior last season, COVID-19 reduced the season to seven games. Wright started in six of those, compiling 30 tackles, two interceptions and four passes defended. He also registered one sack. Against Oregon, he made seven tackles and one interception.

Veteran quarterback Garrett Gilbert is expected to get the start for Dallas. The former sixth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft by the Rams, has bounced around the league and is on his seventh NFL team. Gilbert played in one game for the Cowboys in 2020, completing 21 of 38 passes for 243 yards and one touchdown against the Steelers on Nov. 8. Gilbert was intercepted once.

How to make Steelers vs. Cowboys picks

Hunt is leaning over the total, and he has discovered a critical X-factor that has him jumping all over one side of the spread. He's only sharing what it is, and who to back, at SportsLine.

Who wins the NFL Hall of Fame Game 2021? And which critical X-factor makes one side of the spread hit hard? Visit SportsLine now to see Emory Hunt's Cowboys vs. Steelers pick, all from the NFL expert who's 27-18 on picks involving Dallas, and find out.