After 172 days of waiting, football is finally back. The last time we saw an NFL game came in February when the Chiefs beat the Eagles 38-35 in Super Bowl LVII. After going nearly six months without football, the NFL will finally be returning on Thursday night with the Hall of Fame Game between the Jets and Browns.
Sure, the Hall of Fame Game isn't quite on the same scale as the Super Bowl, but it's the Super Bowl of preseason games, so you should definitely be watching when the game kicks off at 8 p.m. ET. Of course, if you do watch, you'll probably notice that there won't really be any regular starters on the field for either team. However, there will still be plenty to watch for and we'll be covering that here, plus giving you a pick for the game.
Here are a few things to watch out for in Canton, Ohio, tonight:
- Storyline to watch for the Jets: Mekhi Becton trying earn a starting job on the offensive line. For the most part, the Hall of Fame Game is for players at the bottom of the roster, but the Jets will have at least two former first-round picks on the field tonight and one of them is Becton. The offensive tackle, who was selected 11th overall in 2020, has already said that he's going to treat tonight like a "regular-season" game. The reason Becton is going to do that is because he's trying win a starting job at right tackle or left tackle and he's willing to do whatever it takes to win that job after missing most of the past two seasons due to injury (He's only played in one total game since the start of the 2021 season).
- Storyline to watch for the Browns: Jim Schwartz takes over as defensive coordinator. After sticking with Joe Woods for three seasons, the Browns finally kicked him to the curb in January. Woods has been replaced by Schwartz, who won a Super Bowl with the Eagles in 2017 during his last stint as a defensive coordinator. In terms of his defensive schemes, Schwartz won't be revealing much tonight, but it will be interesting to see how the defense looks in its first game under its new coordinator.
- Player you will be keeping an eye on for the Jets: Zach Wilson. Last year, Wilson started nine games for the Jets and although he struggled for the most part, that might not be the case in this game, because he'll be facing a lot of backups and inexperienced players, which means there's a chance that he could go off.
- Player you will be keeping an eye on for the Browns: Cedric Tillman. You might not know his name, but everyone in Cleveland does and there are two reasons for that: One, he was the Browns' first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Browns didn't make their first pick until the third round and they used it to select Tillman. The other reason he's already made a name for himself is because the former Tennessee wide receiver has had an impressive training camp and it won't be surprising he makes a big play or two tonight.
Breech's pick: Jets 20-13 over Browns (Jets cover -1.5). As weird as it sounds, Robert Saleh coaches to win in the preseason and that's all I need to know. Since taking over as the Jets head coach in 2021, Saleh has gone 5-0-1 straight-up in preseason games and I'm NOT going to pick against that. He's going to have several experienced players on the field -- like Wilson and Becton -- and the same can't really be said for the Browns. I think the Jets sneak away with the win.
If you want to watch tonight's game, it will be kicking off at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. You.