Football is back officially as of last week with the Hall of Game game between the Pittsburgh Steelers 19-3 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night, but things ramp up even more this week with the start of the NFL’s preseason ramping up this week.
With the NFL moving to a 17 game regular season schedule this season, teams no longer will play four preseason games. Instead, they will play three games to better protect the players and to avoid unnecessary injuries in the fourth week of the preseason.
With fewer preseason games this season, players have fewer opportunities to prove themselves in unofficial games before the season started, so rookies and players looking for a new landing spot are on a shorter clock. Here is what you should be on the lookout for this week for the first week of NFL preseason.
Quarterbacks with new homes
It’s uncertain how many snaps starters are going to get in their first week of preseason games, but if starting quarterbacks for the Rams, Bears and Lions give their starters, and more importantly, their starting quarterbacks, reps this week, it will be interesting to see how things seem to be developing their new offense.
Matt Stafford’s expectations in Los Angeles this year are really high, and the belief around the football world is that it’s Super Bowl or bust for the Rams this season, and Los Angeles has reason to be confident this season considering they have the second-best odds of any NFC team to make it to the Super Bowl this season, behind only the reigning Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. How Stafford is able to move the Rams' offense could define how far the Rams go this season, and it could all start this week for the Rams.
The Lions received Jard Goff, and a stash of first-round draft picks in exchange for Stafford. The Lions aren’t expected to compete for a playoff spot, but Goff is under contract for a long time, and his future in the NFL seems to be in a better spot than it was when he was with the Rams. A fresh start in Detroit could help Goff reach the potential that some talent evaluators projected for him when he came out of California in the 2016 Draft.
In Chicago, the Bears signed Andy Dalton after he started games in place of Dak Prescott’s injury last season. Dalton is expected to be the starting quarterback for the Bears this season, but with the drafting of Justin Fields with the 12th pick, there could be a chance that the Bears opt to start a rookie QB this season.
Tracking rookie QBs
Speaking of rookie quarterbacks, there are a lot of quarterbacks that will be interesting to track this season, and it could all start this week. In Jacksonville, Trevor Lawerence is all but a lock to start in Week 1, and getting him used to the speed of NFL defenses in-game situations is key.
The second overall pick Zach Wilson is also expected to start from the get-go for the Jets, and Wilson gets his first opportunity this week, too. Wilson has a lot of good athletic traits that are attractive in an NFL quarterback,
Meanwhile, Trey Lance and Fields appear to be backups come Week 1 this season but could work their way into starting positions at some point this season. Observing how those two young QBs play early in the preseason will be an interesting thing to track.
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