Our first full week of preseason football is upon us! Sixteen games are set to be played this week, starting with 11 on Thursday night, two of which will be broadcast live on NFL Network. Thursday evening will be our first look at old faces in new jerseys (Le’Veon Bell) and rookies in their first NFL action (Kyler Murray!). Here’s what we’re looking forward to on Thursday (all times Eastern):
New York Jets at New York Giants (7 p.m. ET, NFL Network)
TheJetsmade a big splash in the offseason by signingLe’Veon Bell. We haven’t seen him in a game since 2017, so the preseason opener could be a good refresher for viewers (though coach Adam Gase recently said heisn’t sure how much Bell will playin August). Does Bell still have the same shiftiness and burst after the year away?
In the spring, coach Pat Shurmur made it seem like the rookie had a chance to supplantEli Manningas the starter. Recently, despite Jones impressing at camp, Shurmur has backed off those claims. Perhaps a few good preseason drives could re-open the door.
Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills (7 p.m.)
Colts: Jacoby Brissett
Brissett has gotten the first-team reps withAndrew Luck(calf) missing most of camp so far. He started 15 games in 2017 when Luck missed the entire season, so this isn’t anything new for the former third-round pick. Luckdoesn’t seem concernedabout missing regular-season games, but it will ease some minds in Indy if they see Brissett is a capable fill-in.
Bills: Running back competition
TheBillshave a slew of running backs hoping to steal carries fromLeSean McCoy, including rookieDevin Singletary,T.J. YeldonandFrank Gore(yes, he’s still playing). It’ll be worth noting how many snaps each back gets and which unit they play with. Preseason is the perfect time to hash this out.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Baltimore Ravens (7:30 p.m.)
Jaguars: John DeFilippo-Nick Folesreunion
DeFilippo, the Jags’ new offensive coordinator, was praised for his work as Foles’ quarterbacks coach in Philly. Under Doug Marrone, the Jags have been committed to the run. But DeFilippo is known for being pass-happy, so keep a close eye on Jacksonville’s offensive play-calls.
Ravens:Lamar Jackson‘s running
Last season, Jackson had a quarterback-record 147 rushing attempts despite not starting until Week 11.Ravensowner Steve Bisciotti said in May that Jackson wouldn’t be running as much, but coach John Harbaugh said at training camp to “bet the over” on Jackson’s rushing attempts. The first preseason game won’t answer all of our questions, but it could give a glimpse into what we’ll see come Week 1.
Tennessee Titans at Philadelphia Eagles (7:30 p.m.)
Titans: Left tackle play
Taylor Lewanis facing a four-game suspension, soDennis Kellycould protectMarcus Mariota‘s blind side for the first quarter of the season. Kelly played 11 games as a backup last season and hasn’t started more than six games in a season since 2012. How well he holds up could make or break theTitans‘ season, especially in a competitive division with two playoff teams (Colts, Texans) and another less than two years removed from the AFC Championship Game (Jaguars).
Eagles: Running back competition
At this point, it seems like rookieMiles Sanderswill win the job. But theEagleshave multiple options behind him, includingJordan Howard,Darren Sproles,Josh AdamsandCorey Clement. All will see reps, but just having this many options will be a welcome sight afterJay Ajayiand Clement finished last season on IR.
Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins (7:30 p.m.)
Falcons: Offensive line play
TheFalconsattempted to revamp their line in the draft, grabbingChris Lindstromat No. 14 and trading up forKaleb McGaryat No. 31. McGary had a heart procedure last Wednesday, so he likely won’t be ready to start the season. The current group (outside of veteransJake Matthewsand Alex Mack) hashad its struggles at camp, so how they fare in game action will be a big test.
Dolphins: Quarterback battle
Ryan Fitzpatrickis back to steal another job — this time fromJosh Rosen. Fitzmagic hasshined at campand is seen as the favorite to start the seaosn, but the competition is still open. TheDolphinsshould want Rosen, 22, to win the job, but it won’t be handed to him.
New England Patriots at Detroit Lions (7:30 p.m.)
Patriots: Receivers and tight ends
It’s no secret that New England needs some pass-catchers to step up. Gone are the days of Rob Gronkowski,Danny AmendolaandChris Hogan, and in stepMatt LaCosse,Maurice HarrisandN’Keal Harry. Who will earnTom Brady‘s trust? Odds are we will know the answer after a few preseason games.
Lions: Darrell Bevell
TheLions‘ offense struggled last season, finishing 25th in scoring and 24th in yardage under offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. Detroit replaced Cooter with Bevell, who coached theSeahawksoffense to theSuper Bowlin 2013 and 2014. The hope is that he can unlock Kerryon Jackson as he didMarshawn Lynch.
Washington Redskins at Cleveland Browns (7:30 p.m.)
Redskins: Quarterback battle
This is the only three-man quarterback battle as of now.Alex Smithwon’t play this year, so it’s down toColt McCoy,Case Keenumand rookieDwayne Haskins. Like with Miami, theRedskinsshould want the younger option in Haskins, 22, to win the job. As of now, he’s the No. 3 behind McCoy and Keenum, but all three will see time in the preseason opener.
TheBrowns‘ high-powered offense has overshadowed the defense — and with personalities likeBaker MayfieldandOdell BeckhamJr., it makes sense. ButMyles Garrett,Olivier VernonandDenzel Wardwill do their talking on the field. Let’s see how this unit meshes after being overlooked by many outsiders during theBrowns‘ rebuild.
Houston Texans at Green Bay Packers (8 p.m.)
Texans: Backup running back behind Lamar Miller
Houston cut backupD’Onta Foremanon Sunday, so it’s now a battle betweenBuddy Howell,Josh Ferguson,Taiwan JonesandDamarea Crockettto sit behind Miller. None of those names jump off the screen — they have a combined 60 career carries — so preseason will teach us a lot about where each stands after training camp.
Packers: Matt LaFleur
Matt RyanandJared Goffthrived under LaFleur whileMarcus Mariotastruggled. That could say more about the quality of player than the coach — andAaron Rodgersis obviously better than any of those three — but I’m still intrigued to see Rodgers in LaFleur’s offense. It’s the first time Rodgers isn’t playing for Mike McCarthy (outside of four games last year), so it’s worth watching.
Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears (8 p.m.)
Panthers: Curtis Samuel
Christian McCaffreywill lead the team in catches again, but Samuel has a chance to emerge as Carolina’s top wideout.Devin Funchessis now with theColts, so Samuel will step in as a starter alongsideD.J. Moore. The former second-rounder has beenimpressive at camp, but can he carry it into the preseason?
This one was too easy. It’s been the story in Chicago for the last seven months, and there’s still no clear answer on who wins the job.Elliott FryandEddy Pineirowere listed as co-starters on the first unofficial depth chart. The preseason should be fun (or not, maybe).
Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks (10 p.m.)
Broncos:Joe Flacco‘s debut
It might not be for long, but Flacco will start after skipping theHall of FameGame. Seeing Flacco in a different jersey after 11 years in Baltimore will take some getting used to. Also, keep an eye on his chemistry with a young group ofBroncosreceivers.
Seahawks: Rashaad Penny
Injuries in camp last year set Penny back for his entire rookie season. Now, he’s healthy and competing withChris Carsonfor snaps. TheSeahawksneed Penny to show something in these preseason games after using a valuable first-round pick on him in 2018 — especially with running backs picked behind him starting to shine (Sony Michel,Nick Chubb, Kerryon Johnson).
Los Angeles Chargers at Arizona Cardinals (10 p.m., NFL Network)
Chargers: Offensive line
In July, theChargers‘ offensive line was ranked 29th by Pro Football Focus — and that was before knowingRussell Okungcould miss six games with a pulmonary embolism. The Bolts will start young linemen inTrent Scott,Sam TeviandDan Feeney. These guys have to step up if theChargersexpect to make a deep playoff run, and it all starts in the preseason.
Cardinals: Kliff Kingsbury
Kyler Murrayis the obvious answer here, but the new coach’s offense will play the entire game and Murray won’t, so I gave Kingsbury the edge. And by watching the offense, you’ll be watching Murray. People are eager to see if the Air Raid offense will work at the pro level, and this is our first look at it.