Following a one-year absence as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, preseason football makes its return Thursday as the Dallas Cowboys take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2021 NFL Hall of Fame Game. Dallas is coming off a disappointing 6-10 campaign during which quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5. Pittsburgh got off to the best start in franchise history in 2020, winning its first 11 games, and won the AFC North title but failed to make it past the wild-card round in the postseason. The Cowboys defeated Arizona in their most recent appearance in the Hall of Fame Game in 2017, while the Steelers lost to Minnesota in the contest two years earlier.

Kickoff from Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. Pittsburgh is a two-point favorite in the latest Cowboys vs. Steelers odds at Caesars Sportsbook, while the over-under for total points scored is 32.5. Before locking in any Steelers vs. Cowboys picks or 2021 Hall of Fame Game predictions, make sure you see what SportsLine NFL expert R.J. White has to say.

CBS Sports' Fantasy and gambling editor, White ended the 2020 season on an 80-59 run on all NFL picks, returning more than $1,400 during that span. It's no surprise, as White has cashed huge twice in the world's most prestigious football handicapping competition, the Las Vegas SuperContest.

In addition, White has gone an astounding 44-24-3 on his last 71 picks involving Pittsburgh, returning more than $1,700. Anyone who has followed him is way up.

Now, White has locked in on Cowboys vs. Steelers from every angle and released a confident against-the-spread pick for the Hall of Fame Game 2021. You can visit SportsLine now to see it. Here are several NFL odds and trends for Steelers vs. Cowboys:

  • Cowboys vs. Steelers spread: Pittsburgh -2
  • Cowboys vs. Steelers over-under: 32.5 points
  • Cowboys vs. Steelers money line: Dallas +115, Pittsburgh -135
  • DAL: The Cowboys have won their last three appearances in the Hall of Fame Game
  • PIT: The Steelers fell to 3-3 in the Hall of Fame Game after losing to Minnesota in 2015
Featured Game | Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Dallas Cowboys

Why the Steelers can cover

Pittsburgh has a major advantage in experience under center, as its trio of Mason Rudolph (15), Dwayne Haskins (16) and Joshua Dobbs has appeared in a total of 37 NFL regular-season games while Dallas' triumvirate of Garrett Gilbert (seven), Cooper Rush (five) and Ben DiNucci has 15 under its belt. The 25-year-old Rudolph, who has thrown 15 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions in the league, will make the start Thursday as he looks to secure the backup role behind Ben Roethlisberger. Drafted 15th overall by Washington in 2019, the 24-year-old Haskins threw 12 TD passes and 14 interceptions in parts of two seasons before being released and will be battling Rudolph for the job.

There's little debate regarding the starting running back position, which is expected to be taken by Najee Harris. The 23-year-old was selected with the 24th overall pick in this year's NFL Draft after rushing for 1,466 yards and 26 touchdowns for Alabama last year. Harris also figures to be a viable option out of the backfield, as he hauled in 43 passes for 425 yards and four TDs in his senior season.

Why the Cowboys can cover 

The battle to become Prescott's backup commences as Gilbert, DiNucci and Rush begin to make their case. A sixth-round draft pick of the Rams in 2014 who has seven games of NFL regular-season experience, Gilbert is presumed to have the upper hand as the 2021 NFL preseason gets underway. The 30-year-old joined the Cowboys after Prescott went down last year and made his first career start in Week 9 against Pittsburgh, completing 21-of-38 passes for 243 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a 24-19 defeat.

Plenty of focus also will be on Dallas' defense, which ranked 31st against the run last year (158.8 yards) and was fifth-worst in points allowed per contest (29.6). Each of the team's first six picks in the 2021 NFL Draft were defensive players, with linebacker Micah Parsons of Penn State being selected 12th overall. Much will also be expected of cornerback Kelvin Joseph, a second-round pick from Kentucky, while on the other side of the ball, veteran right tackle La'el Collins is back from a hip injury that cost him the entire 2020 season and should see some action on Thursday.

How to make Steelers vs. Cowboys picks

White has analyzed this matchup and while we can tell you he's leaning over the total, 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 2021 Hall of Fame Game? And which critical X-factor makes one side of the spread hit hard? Visit SportsLine now to see R.J. White's Cowboys vs. Steelers pick, all from the NFL expert who's 44-24-3 on picks involving Pittsburgh, and find out.