The NFL preseason gets a lot of criticism, and while some of it is warranted, it does give teams a good chance to evaluate rookies and make important first-team decisions. Week 4, however—not so much.
No starter of note will get anything more than a series or two, and the other 50 minutes will belong to mostly players you'll never hear of again in 2012.
That being said, hardcore NFL fans are, um, the hardcorest. If their team is playing, they are watching. So this one's for you guys. Let's take a look at where to catch the action and more.
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
When: Thursday, August 30 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Watch: Not nationally televised, but Online at NFL Preseason Live
Listen: Sirius XM Radio: 92 or Online at NFL Audio Pass
Betting Line (via Covers)
Point Spread: Bills (+2.5) at Lions
What's at Stake?
Not a whole lot, as both teams' major position battles have already been settled.
For the Bills, Leodis McKelvin has locked up his spot in the nickel, Tashard Choice has established himself as the team's third running back and Kirk Morrison has lost his starting linebacker job.
In Detroit, Jason Hanson has won the kicking job, Mikel Leshoure has proven to be healthy and the injuries to Matthew Stafford and Kevin Smith don't appear serious.
But while nothing major is technically "at stake," there are still some minor position battles to watch. Most notably, the Bills' quarterback situation.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, despite a poor preseason, is entrenched as the starter, but it will be interesting to see what Tarvaris Jackson can do in his first action in a Bills uniform.
Injury Report (Via CBS Sports)
No injuries reported
Kyle Vanden Bosch, DL, Knee, Questionable
Bill Bentley, DB, Shoulder, Questionable
Stefan Logan, RB, Ankle, Questionable
Kevin Smith, RB, Ankle, Questionable
Matthew Stafford, QB, Hand, Probable for season opener
Louis Delmas, DB, Knee, Questionable for season opener
Bills Player to Watch: Tarvaris Jackson, QB
Ryan Fitzpatrick has shown the ability to run the show in Buffalo, but he has been painfully inconsistent at times. His job isn't 100-percent safe.
That's why the Bills brought in Jackson from the Seattle Seahawks. While he is far from a dynamic QB, he has some starting experience under his belt, he isn't Vince Young and he can at least push the incumbent. If Jackson looks good in what will likely be limited action against the Lions, things would at least get somewhat interesting.
Even if he doesn't, he'll still be worth watching to see how he looks in his first Buffalo action.
Lions Player to Watch: Mikel Leshoure, RB
After missing all of 2011 and the first two preseason games, Leshoure finally made his 2012 preseason debut. He carried the ball five times for one yard.
Can you say rust?
Still, Leshoure is an exciting young running back who has the potential to make a big impact on this Lions team in 2012. Look for him to continue to work his way back into game shape on Thursday night.
Prediction: Detroit 21, Buffalo 17
It's the last week of preseason, and it's simply impossible to know how all of the backups will play against each other. I'll go with the home team. It's as simple as that.