The first full week of preseason games is upon us, and while this generally isn’t the most exciting week of the preseason, it’s our first glimmer of insight into the 2013 NFL season. Although it can be tough to sit and watch an entire preseason game from start to finish, here are some week-1 preseason games that you should check out, at least for a little while:
Baltimore at Tampa Bay, Thursday night – It’s always worthwhile to watch a reigning Super Bowl champion kickoff the following season, especially when there are so many new names on Baltimore’s defense with Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Paul Kruger no longer with the team. As for Tampa Bay, we may not see a lot of Josh Freeman, but we should get a good look at rookie Mike Glennon, and get a good indication whether or not he’s a serious threat to challenge Freeman for the starting job.
St. Louis at Cleveland, Thursday night – Even during the regular season, this wouldn’t be an intriguing matchup, but the Rams added a lot of speed to their offense during the offseason, so it’ll be interesting to see that unit take the field for the first time. Also, Cleveland could be home to one of the NFL’s preseason quarterback competitions, as Brandon Weeden tries to hold off free agent acquisition Jason Campbell. With a lot to prove, Weeden should see more playing time than almost every other starting quarterback in week one of the preseason.
Denver at San Francisco, Thursday night – Obviously, neither team is going to play their starters a lot or show their hand, but this could very easily be a Super Bowl preview. Denver still has some things to figure out, most noticeably along the offensive line and at middle linebacker, and they need to get started right away to find some solutions at those positions. Meanwhile, San Francisco has a lot of rookies that will see their first game action, including plenty of guys that could contribute to another run to the Super Bowl.
New York Jets at Detroit, Friday night – The Lions aren’t overly intriguing this preseason, but the Jets more than make up for that. Rex Ryan will probably guarantee a Jets victory in this game, but once we get past his foolishness, we’ll be able to watch the marquee quarterback competition of this year’s preseason start to unfold. As far as on-field stories go in the NFL, there isn’t a lot going on that will be more interesting than Mark Sanchez vs. Geno Smith. In order to find their starter, the Jets will have to play both extensively throughout the preseason, which will them a team that’s worth watching, even during the preseason.
New England at Philadelphia, Friday night – There’s been more than enough off-field drama surrounding these two teams, and obviously those storylines will be front and center when the teams meet to kick off the preseason. But on the field there’s plenty to pay attention to for both of these teams. Without its dynamic duo at tight end or Wes Welker, the Patriots need to find out this preseason which players will become their playmakers. For the Eagles, Chip Kelly will make debut as a NFL head coach, and we’ll finally get to see a little bit of the offense he’ll run. We’ll also get to see another fascinating quarterback competition begin to unfold, as Michael Vick tries to hold off Nick Foles and rookie Matt Barkley.