Two teams desperate to get back to the postseason will open the preseason Sunday when the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins square off in the NFL's annual Hall of Fame Game.
The Cowboys have missed the playoffs three straight seasons and the Dolphins haven't reached the postseason since 2008, but both teams have plenty of reasons to believe they'll end their playoff drought this season.
To do that, though, they'll need more consistent play from their quarterbacks.
Dallas' Tony Romo is recovering from offseason surgery to remove a cyst from his back. He's been participating in drills, although cautiously, and has said he wants to play Sunday. As of Thursday, though, Cowboys' coach Jason Garrett hadn't confirmed whether or not Romo will get some work against what's expected to be an improved Miami defense.
The uncertainty of Romo's status is evident in the movement in the game's point spread. Dallas opened as a 1 1/2-point favorite, but Miami is now listed as high as a 3-point favorite. The total was sitting at 34 as of Friday morning on preseason NFL betting lines posted at Sports Interaction.
Second-year starter Ryan Tannehill will go for the Dolphins. He showed signs of promise during his rookie campaign and has an added weapon at his disposal this season in former Steelers' standout wide receiver Mike Wallace.
The starters may be grabbing the headlines, but backup quarterbacks almost always receive more preseason action. Veteran Kyle Orton is No. 2 on the Cowboys' depth chart, followed by Nick Stephens and Alex Tanney. Matt Moore will backup Tannehill and Pat Devlin is the only other quarterback listed on the Dolphins' depth chart.
The Cowboys are 5-3 straight-up and 3-5 against the spread in preseason games under Garrett. Dolphins coach Joe Philbin went 0-4 straight-up and against the spread last preseason, his first in Miami.
Regardless, Sunday's "meaningless" game may have more meaning for the two coaches because coaching philosophy in exhibition games is one way for handicappers to profit on NFL preseason betting each August, according to Jack Randall of OddsShark.com.
Will Philbin feel more pressure to set the tone with a winning preseason? There could be added motivation there for the Dolphins, but Garrett also has to be feeling the pressure around Dallas.
One thing is for certain -- it's good to have football back, preseason or not.