NFL preseason Week 2: One thing to watch in each game, including Trey Lance and the Broncos QB battle
Forgive some fans for thinking that the NFL regular season has already begun. After being devoid of preseason action in 2020, fans of every NFL team feasted on exhibition football last weekend. There was a packed house in the desert as the Raiders welcomed fans inside Allegiant Stadium for the first time. In Chicago, Justin Fields dazzled more than 43,000 fans in his NFL preseason debut.
Several juicy storylines emerged from Week 1 of the preseason. Fields’ strong debut led to Matt Nagy fielding more questions about who will start at quarterback when Chicago opens the regular season. Jordan Love’s largely positive NFL debut was spoiled by an injury. Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater kept pace with each other in the battle to win the Broncos‘ starting quarterback job. Tim Tebow, following his Jaguars debut that went viral for all the wrong reasons, did not survive the first round of roster cuts.
Week 2 of the preseason promises to deliver even more highlights and storylines. Here’s a rundown of every Week 2 preseason game (check out our takeaways from Thursday night’s Eagles-Patriots Thursday game here, as well as from Friday’s Chiefs-Cardinals and Bengals-WFT games and Saturday’s early Bills-Bears and Jets-Packers games). We’ve also got odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook and one thing fans should keep an eye on for each matchup.
Saturday, Aug. 21
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Line: Panthers +3, O/U 35.5
TV: WSOC (Carolina), WBAL (Baltimore)
Both teams are dealing with numerous injuries heading into Saturday’s game. And while Matt Rhule has not yet decided on Sam Darnold’s status, backup quarterback P.J. Walker will face the Ravens after throwing for 161 yards and a touchdown in Carolina’s 21-18 loss to the Colts last Sunday. Another Panther to watch is rookie running back Chuba Hubbard, who ripped off a 59-yard run against the Colts.
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Line: Dolphins -5, O/U 36
TV: WFOR, WUPA
Falcons fans are surely hoping to see first-round pick Kyle Pitts make his preseason debut after the team’s new tight end earned praise from the Dolphins defense during this week’s scrimmages. Regardless of Pitts’ status, one player to watch in this matchup is Dolphins backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who threw a touchdown pass in his first game with his new team against the Bears.
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Line: Steelers -6.5, O/U 37
TV: NFL Network, KDKA (Pittsburgh), WJBK (Detroit)
Ben Roethlisberger will make his preseason debut while also running Matt Canada’s offense for the first time. Pittsburgh fans will be just as — if not more — excited to watch Round 3 of Dwayne Haskins vs. Mason Rudolph. Haskins won the first two rounds, leading the Steelers offense to six scoring drives during Pittsburgh’s first two preseason games. Rudolph, who owns a 5-4 lifetime record as the Steelers’ starting quarterback, remains in search of his first scoring drive this preseason. And while he has yet to start this preseason, Haskins played well during a recent two-minute drill in practice while leading the Steelers starting offense.
Titans at Buccaneers
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Line: Buccaneers -1, O/U 35
TV: WTSP (Tampa), WKRN (Tennessee)
I received some grief for tabbing Kyle Trask as a “loser” after the Buccaneers rookie quarterback went just 5-for-14 against the Bengals last Saturday. Not only did he face significant pressure from Cincinnati’s pass rush, Trask had two well-thrown deep passes dropped by his receivers. It’s safe to say that the former Florida Gator will be champing at the bit to have a much stronger outing against the Titans.
Texans at Cowboys
Time: 8 p.m.
Line: Cowboys -3.5, O/U 37
TV: KTVT (Dallas), KTRK (Houston)
The Cowboys may have gotten a steal in fourth-round pick Jabril Cox. The former LSU Tiger had a team-high eight tackles (two for loss) in last week’s loss to the Cardinals. He tied for the team high in tackles against the Steelers in the Hall of Fame Game. Cox will look to help the Cowboys win their first preseason game against a Texans offense that scored 26 points last week against the Packers.
Time: 8 p.m.
Line: Vikings -2.5, O/U 38
TV: KMSP (Minnesota), WXIN (Indianapolis)
With Carson Wentz out, the Colts were downright giddy after watching Sam Ehlinger lead a game-winning drive in last Sunday’s win over the Panthers. Jacob Eason, the second-year quarterback who got the start, was 15-for-21 for 183 yards in his NFL debut. Eason will play behind Ehlinger, who went 10-for-15 for 155 yards with an interception against Carolina. Both quarterbacks will look to duplicate the success Lock and Bridgewater had against the Vikings defense last weekend.
Raiders at Rams
Time: 10 p.m. ET
Line: Rams +6.5, O/U 35
TV: NFL Network, KCBS (Los Angeles), KVVU (Las Vegas)
Saturday night could be the first preseason action for Marcus Mariota, who had been enjoying a strong training camp before sustaining a minor lower body injury on Aug. 8. With Mariota out, Nathan Peterman went the distance in the Raiders’ preseason opener, going 29-for-39 with 246 yards and an interception in Las Vegas’ 20-7 win. If he plays, Mariota will surely be motivated to play well, as the former Titans quarterback is determined to earn another opportunity to start for an NFL franchise.
Time: 10 p.m. ET
Line: Seahawks +5, O/U 37.5
TV: KING (Seattle), KTVD (Denver)
A rematch of Super Bowl XLVIII, it will certainly be a big game for quarterbacks Lock and Bridgewater, who both enjoyed stellar outings in Denver’s blowout win over Minnesota. Bridgewater will start against the Seahawks after completing all but one of his eight passes for 74 yards and a score last week. Lock — who got the start last week and threw for 151 yards and a score on 5-for-7 passing — will come in after Bridgewater. Broncos coach Vic Fangio was undecided with regard to Von Miller’s status for Saturday. Miller missed the entire 2020 season after suffering a tendon injury just before the start of the regular season.
Sunday, Aug. 22
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Line: Browns -5.5, O/U 35.5
TV: NFL Network, KTVD (Cleveland), WNBC (New York)
Cleveland enjoyed a stellar debut last week from rookie linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. The former Notre Dame standout led the Browns with eight tackles (that included seven solo stops), three tackles for loss and a sack of Trevor Lawrence in Cleveland’s win over Jacksonville. The Giants would be wise to keep an eye on Owusu-Koramoah, who recently drew praise from Browns run game coordinator Ben Bloom.
Time: 7:30 ET
Line: Chargers +5.5, O/U 34
TV: NFL Network, KABC (Los Angeles), KPIX (San Francisco)
49ers fans will continue to keep a close eye on Trey Lance, who enjoyed a solid preseason debut in last week’s three-point win over the Chiefs. While he went only 5-for-14 passing, the No. 3 overall pick was the victim of several dropped passes. Lance also completed an 80-yard TD to receiver Trent Sherfield. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan recently lauded the play of Lance and veteran Jimmy Garoppolo, who did not play in the 49ers’ preseason opener.
Monday, Aug. 23
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Line: Saints -4, O/U 39
TV: ESPN, WVUE (New Orleans), WJAX (Jacksonville)
Who wants to be the Saints’ starting quarterback? Neither Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill played necessarily well in last week’s loss to the Ravens. Winston, working with the Saints’ first-team offense during Thursday’s practice, got off to a strong start before fading later in practice. And while Hill also endured an up-and-down practice, he did display better arm strength on his deep passes after having a tendency to under-throw on deep attempts earlier in camp. Let’s see if either quarterback can get an edge over the other on Monday night.