Our long wait is over. Football is back.
The NFL regular season won’t start until Sept. 10, but the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings will kick off the preseason at 5 p.m. Sunday on NBC (3) in the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
The exhibition will mark the return of Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson, who missed all but one game last season. The Vikings also feature second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and wideout Mike Wallace.
Veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will pilot a potent Steelers offense featuring running back Le’Veon Bell and receiver Antonio Brown that averaged 31.2 points last year over the team’s final 10 regular-season games.
The Vikings are favored by 3Â½ points, and the total is 35. Minnesota went 3-1 against the spread in last year’s preseason, and Pittsburgh went 1-3. Three of the past four Hall of Fame Games have gone under the total.
As an appetizer for Sunday’s main course, check out the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony at 4 p.m. Saturday on ESPN (30). This year’s class features Junior Seau, Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Charles Haley, Mick Tingelhoff, Will Shields, Bill Polian and Ron Wolf.
San Francisco Giants at Chicago Cubs (1 p.m., MLBN (314)): The Cubs returned home from a 5-1 trip Thursday for a wild-card showdown with the Giants at Wrigley Field that will start a stretch of 17 straight games in Chicago, including three at the White Sox. Las Vegan Kris Bryant and the Cubs beat the Giants 5-4 on Thursday to move a half-game ahead of San Francisco for the second wild card. Jon Lester starts for Chicago today against Ryan Vogelsong.
BEST OF REST: MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh Pirates (4 p.m., ESPN (30)), Baltimore Orioles at Los Angeles Angels (7 p.m., FSW (49)); PGA Tour: Bridgestone Invitational, second round (10:30 a.m., TGC (339)).
Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees (10 a.m., MLBN (314)): Along with the surging New York Mets, who have won six straight games, the Blue Jays are one of the hottest teams in baseball, winning five in a row to claim the lead for the second wild card on the heels of acquiring Troy Tulowitzki and David Price before the trade deadline. Price will make his second start for Toronto after holding the Twins to a run on three hits with 11 strikeouts in Monday’s 5-1 win. Ivan Nova will start for the Yanks.
BEST OF REST: MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh Pirates (1 p.m., FS1 (329)), Baltimore Orioles at Los Angeles Angels (6 p.m., FSW (49)); PGA Tour: Bridgestone Invitational, third round (9 a.m., TGC (339), 11 a.m., CBS (8)).
Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh Pirates, 5 p.m., ESPN (30): Clayton Kershaw takes a 37-inning scoreless streak into Friday’s series opener at PNC Park between two of the best teams in baseball and can eclipse teammate Zack Greinke’s scoreless streak of 45 2/3 innings with a shutout. Kershaw needs to toss 4 1/3 scoreless frames to surpass his own mark of 41 consecutive scoreless innings he set last season.
Sunday’s scheduled starters are Alex Wood for L.A. and Charlie Morton for Pittsburgh. Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen are riding hot streaks.
BEST OF REST: MLB: San Francisco Giants at Chicago Cubs (11 a.m., TBS (7)), Baltimore Orioles at Los Angeles Angels (12:30 p.m., FSW (49)); PGA Tour: Bridgestone Invitational, final round (9 a.m., TGC (339), 11 a.m., CBS (8)); NASCAR, Sprint Cup Series, Cheez-It 355 (11 a.m., NBCSP (38)).
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0354. Follow him on Twitter: @tdewey33.