Daily Bet: Cardinals (+2½) vs. Saints

America, your long nightmare is just about over. No, Paris Hilton, every Kardashian and the cast of Jersey Shore aren’t being deported to a deserted island. Nor is the man upstairs about to pull the plug on electronic dance music. (All of that would be nice.) Rather, I’m referring to the return of our nation’s real pastime: After six painful months, football is back—more to the point, betting on football is back. What’s that you say? Only degenerates wager on NFL preseason games? Not true at all. In fact, I’ve long contended that if you do your homework, betting the preseason is actually easier than betting the regular season.

Which brings me to Sunday’s Hall of Fame game between the Saints and Cardinals. If you’ve been following the NFL this summer, you know that Arizona’s Kevin Kolb and John Skelton are entrenched in a heated quarterback duel. That duel means both guys, who are each very capable QBs, will be on the field a lot longer than most veteran QBs would be in a Hall of Fame Game. It also means Arizona’s entire first-string offense likely will get more playing time than usual. On the other hand, if you blink in the first couple of minutes of this contest, you’ll probably miss Drew Brees (who last year went 1-for-4 passing in New Orleans’ preseason opener). And when Brees departs, we’re going to get a steady dose of career 6-foot-tall backup Chase Daniels — against an improved Cardinals defense that was a big reason why the Cardinals won seven of their final nine games last year.

The wrong team is favored in this game, and even though the number has dropped from Saints minus-3 to minus-2½, the value still lies with Arizona.

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Thursday’s Result: Twins (+165) at Red Sox (Win)

Record: 30-23 (14-5 last 19)