The first full week of preseason action is finally here. With plenty of roster spots, rookie expectations and quarterback battles to sort out, here’s everything you need to know before Week 1 kicks off.
Note: Betting spreads via BetMGM.com as of Aug. 10
NEW YORK GIANTS (-2.5) AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
GIANTS STORYLINE: A new head coach in New York (Brian Daboll) means you’ll likely see most of the regular-season starters see some action in this game to continue getting familiar with new systems. It’s a make-or-break year for quarterback Daniel Jones (71.6 passing grade last season), and how confident he looks in the new offense will be paramount.
PATRIOTS STORYLINE: Don’t expect many of the Patriots' top starters in this game. Where quarterback Mac Jones’ spot isn’t in question, the order of his passing weapons is. No receiver on the team recorded a 75.0-plus receiving grade last season.
TENNESSEE TITANS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS (-3.5)
TITANS STORYLINE: The Titans made a big shift to their roster when they traded star wide receiver A.J. Brown to the Eagles during night one of the 2022 NFL Draft. They replaced him with first-round pick Treylon Burks later in the evening. The biggest storyline for the team is how quickly Burks can be a reliable weapon in the passing game.
RAVENS STORYLINE: The Ravens traded one of their top passing options, Marquise Brown, to the Arizona Cardinals this past offseason. The question is now who will pick up the slack. Can Rashod Bateman be that go-to player in the receiver room? And beyond him, what will be the roles and emphasis of players such as Devin Duvernay, James Proche and Tylan Wallace?
ATLANTA FALCONS (-1) AT DETROIT LIONS
FALCONS STORYLINE: The Falcons’ depth chart is filled with plenty of opportunity, as there are not many incumbent starters who can’t be unseeded heading into the regular season. Head coach Arthur Smith said this game will be like a dress rehearsal for anyone on the team who is healthy. All eyes will be on the quarterbacks, though, as we’ll get a good first look at Atlanta’s quarterback battle between Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder.
LIONS STORYLINE: Dan Campbell has the Detroit Lions as the darlings of the NFL heading into the preseason. The cameras of Hard Knocks have only made people root for the Lions even more over the last few weeks. Though there are plenty of positions of importance for the Lions, former No. 3 overall cornerback Jeff Okudah’s ability and availability are the biggest story. Okudah was listed behind Will Harris on the unofficial depth chart for their first preseason game.
CLEVELAND BROWNS (-1.5) AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
BROWNS STORYLINE: The biggest storyline is, of course, Deshaun Watson. It looks like Watson will play in the preseason game against Jacksonville, which will be his first live snaps with his new team.
JAGUARS STORYLINE: Will Trevor Lawrence play? That’s the biggest storyline for the Jags heading into their second preseason game. Lawrence and many others were held out of the team's first preseason game against the Raiders a week ago. How will Lawrence and his fancy new throwing motion look once the pads and the lights come on? We’ve got high hopes after a disappointing 58.3 passing grade from 2021 (though there’s plenty of Urban Meyer context needed for that grade).
ARIZONA CARDINALS AT CINCINNATI BENGALS (-1.5)
CARDINALS STORYLINE: The easy answer here is to just sit back, relax and enjoy the Trace McSorley show, as Kyler Murray and Colt McCoy won’t suit up for this one. But the real facet to watch is the Cardinals' defense, which lost veterans Chandler Jones and Jordan Hicks this offseason. Can the young guys look good going into the season?
BENGALS STORYLINE: It’s going to be a game of backups for the Bengals, and both Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins are listed as questionable (no sense risking anything with those two). The Bengals' defense should look dominant against the Cardinals’ offense.
JETS STORYLINE: What will Zach Wilson look like in 2022? That’s the biggest question mark for the Jets heading into the preseason. But with offensive tackle Mekhi Becton likely lost for the season, more eyes and emphasis, for this game, will be on how the offensive line in front of Wilson holds up. The Jets’ 68.3 offensive line grade ranked 26th in the NFL last season.
EAGLES STORYLINE: We’ll likely get our first look at Jalen Hurts, Devonta Smith and A.J. Brown in the same offense. It also looks like we’ll see first-round pick Jordan Davis suit up in the NFL for the first time. Will he have that same kind of imposing strength we saw during his time at Georgia?
GREEN BAY PACKERS AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (-2.5)
PACKERS STORYLINE: With the jury still out on whether Aaron Rodgers will even play this preseason (he doesn’t have to), all eyes will be on Jordan Love. He’ll get the start against the Niners, and the report is he’s looked good in camp.
49ERS STORYLINE: The quarterbacks are the headliners for both of these teams, as we’ll be heavily invested in Trey Lance‘s performance. Lance, who was the Niners’ No. 3 overall pick from the 2021 draft, is starting a football game for the first time since 2020. We’ll also get a first look at San Francisco’s cornerback duo of Charvarius Ward and Emmanuel Moseley.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT CHICAGO BEARS (-3.5)
CHIEFS STORYLINE: The biggest storyline for the Chiefs is what their offense will look like without Tyreek Hill. Head coach Andy Reid won't pull out all the stops in his team's first preseason game, but how comfortable and confident will guys like Marquez Valdes-Scantling, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Justyn Ross look alongside the incumbents Travis Kelce and Mecole Hardman? Can this offense continue to hit the gas pedal at any time without Hill?
BEARS STORYLINE: What will the offensive line look like in front of Justin Fields? That will be the storyline for not just this week, but the entire preseason for the Bears. Chicago finished 2021 with a 65.0 overall offensive line grade, which ranked 27th in the league.
CAROLINA PANTHERS AT WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (-1.5)
PANTHERS STORYLINE: Like most of the offseason, all eyes in Carolina will be on the quarterback position. How will Baker Mayfield look in his Panthers debut? And on the other side of the coin, what will Sam Darnold look like, as he is likely to get plenty of snaps, too. We’ll also have our eyes on the offensive line, specifically the left tackle spot with Ikem Ekwonu and Brady Christensen.
COMMANDERS STORYLINE: Head coach Ron Rivera said Carson Wentz will definitely play in the preseason opener for the Commanders. That means that’s the biggest area to watch. How will Wentz look playing on his third team in three seasons? Wentz’s 67.9 passing grade last season in Indianapolis was the second-worst mark of his career.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (-1) AT BUFFALO BILLS
COLTS STORYLINE: With Carson Wentz out and Matt Ryan in, seeing how Ryan looks at quarterback with his new team is the biggest storyline from this one. Beyond Ryan himself, which receiver will take control of the WR2 spot opposite Michael Pittman Jr.?
BILLS STORYLINE: We likely won’t see too much out of the Bills' starters in this one. This is a playoff-caliber team that doesn’t want to get anyone hurt. But the receiver room and how they’re going to reallocate the targets vacated by the departures of Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders is one to keep an eye on.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS (-3)
SEAHAWKS STORYLINE: Life after Russell Wilson; what does it look like? For now, Geno Smith will get the start for the Seahawks, but it's a full quarterback battle between Smith and newcomer Drew Lock. Both should get plenty of reps to help try and settle this battle by Week 1 of the regular season.
STEELERS STORYLINE: It’s a matchup of quarterback battles in this one, but for the Steelers, it’s a three-man race between Mitchell Trubisky, Mason Rudolph and Kenny Pickett. Trubisky is the starting quarterback for now, but how all three of these guys play (or even who doesn’t play) will say a lot about the battle.
MIAMI DOLPHINS (-1.5) AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
DOLPHINS STORYLINE: It’s no secret that all expectations in Miami start and end with Tua Tagovailoa. What he looks like with newly acquired players like Tyreek Hill and Terron Armstead, as well as familiar faces like Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gesicki, will mean everything. It’s also our first look at all those pieces in new head coach Mike McDaniel’s offense.
BUCCANEERS STORYLINE: Tom Brady won’t play in the preseason opener for the Bucs, but most of his starting offensive line could suit up. That’s important because it won’t be with Ryan Jensen, who suffered a knee injury early in camp. How that offensive line looks without Jensen (Robert Hainsey the likely fill-in at center) and the look of newcomers Julio Jones and Russell Gage will be what to watch for.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (-1.5) AT HOUSTON TEXANS
SAINTS STORYLINE: The top storylines for the Saints involve Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas. Unfortunately, Winston likely won’t play in this one due to a non-serious foot injury he suffered in camp, and Thomas is up in the air, as he just started participating in scrimmages. You’d like for the defense to look dominant in this one, though, as most of their top players are returning.
TEXANS STORYLINE: The Texans' rookie class is what we’re looking forward to most in this one. Kenyon Green, Derek Stingley Jr., Jalen Pitre and Dameon Pierce all have good chances to solidify their contributing spots on the Texans' depth chart.
DALLAS COWBOYS AT DENVER BRONCOS (-3)
COWBOYS STORYLINE: No Amari Cooper, no Cedrick Wilson and, for now, no Michael Gallup. That means 2022 will likely be the CeeDee Lamb show in Dallas. Is he ready to take that next step to become one of the best receivers in the game? On the defensive side, how defensive end Dorance Armstrong looks opposite Demarcus Lawrence will be an important question to answer this preseason.
BRONCOS STORYLINE: If Russell Wilson plays in this game, no matter how long it will be, it will be the main story. Wilson, one of the winningest quarterbacks of the past decade, will be playing for a new team for the first time in his NFL career. His chemistry with guys such as Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy will be under a microscope this preseason.
LOS ANGELES RAMS AT LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-3.5)
RAMS STORYLINE: The biggest storyline out of Rams camp this preseason will be with Matthew Stafford’s health, as it was reported he was having pain in his elbow last season and got an injection in it this offseason. But we won't really find out much about Stafford during the preseason game, as it’s unlikely we’ll see him until the regular season. How well-tuned the offense looks without him, especially the offensive line, will be what to watch for.
CHARGERS STORYLINE: Newcomers Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson and even rookie Zion Johnson will be the players we’re watching in this one. The Chargers built one of the top rosters in the NFL on paper this offseason, but building chemistry with new teammates in new schemes still takes time.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS AT LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (-3.5)
VIKINGS STORYLINE: Beyond all the players, this week’s preseason game will be Kevin O’Connell's debut as head coach. How prepared his team looks will hint at what we can expect from the Vikings in the early part of the regular season.
RAIDERS STORYLINE: After watching last week’s Hall of Fame game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the battle we’re keeping our eyes on is the Raiders' running back room of Josh Jacobs, Kenyan Drake and rookie Zamir White. White led Las Vegas in yards last week, but with this being the official Week 1 of the preseason, how much each player gets the ball could be telling for the regular-season rotation.