The NFL preseason is a dangerous thing. It's football, but not quite. It's real live action, but not really. Teams and players are playing, but not actually.
Evaluating players and teams when starters and backups are flexing in and out is tough. Judging teams and players when the points matter as much as they do in the old comedy improv show Whose Line is it Anyway? (they don't) is practically impossible.
But there are some performances so excellent, so undeniably great, that there's no way to take them as anything but good news. And there are some performances so wretched you know they won't be getting any better when the lights really go on in September.
Then you have the teams that have bet the farm on this year's draftees and free-agent signees. The early returns on the new players can be crucial to the way the coach uses them—not to mention their confidence. Which teams can officially start counting their chickens, and which teams' playoff hopes are cracked?
Here are the big winners and losers of the 2012 NFL preseason, so far.