Thursday is the first night of NFL preseason action in Week 2, and the predictions are flying fast as the excitement for the regular season continues to skyrocket.
All of the following matchups make Thursday night a special occasion, and true NFL fans will be tuned into the battles across the league in preparation for Week 1 of the regular season.
Detroit Lions at Cleveland Browns
The Detroit Lions will face a Cleveland Browns team searching for an identity, and this will be the opening the potent Lions offense led by quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson have been looking to exploit.
Add in running back Reggie Bush to the mix and this will be an offensive showcase.
Browns fans will be looking for any kind of hope from the team as new head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner try to implement a new game plan and mindset to the franchise. It's going to be a long season for Cleveland.
Prediction: Detroit 33, Cleveland 13
Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles
The Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles come into Week 2 with the focus of each organization on the quarterback position. With an intense position battle in Philadelphia and serious expectations on Cam Newton during his third season in Carolina, Thursday’s chatter will be all about the passing attacks.
While Newton’s development will be under the microscope Thursday, it will be Nick Foles that has his chance to start for the Eagles this week and will face the most scrutiny. With Michael Vick playing well in Week 1, Foles must shine to keep the QB competition alive.
Prediction: Philadelphia 27, Carolina 21
Atlanta Falcons at Baltimore Ravens
In what has the potential to be a Super Bowl preview, the Atlanta Falcons will travel to Baltimore to square off against the defending champion Ravens. With two of the most explosive teams in the league going head-to-head, this is must-watch football.
NFL fans will be focused on the quarterback position in this game as well. Both Matt Ryan from the Falcons and Joe Flacco from the Ravens will be looking to prove the monster contract each signed this offseason was worth it for their respective franchises.
Expect an impressive chess match between these two smart players.
Prediction: Atlanta 24, Baltimore 21
San Diego Chargers at Chicago Bears
The nationally televised game of the night (ESPN) will be the matchup between the San Diego Chargers and the Chicago Bears. With two new head coaches (Mike McCoy for the Chargers and Marc Trestman for the Bears), this should be a wild meeting.
There will be an intense battle between veteran quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Jay Cutler as they look to reemerge as two of the top players in the league. The change in offensive schemes will cause some growing pains, though, and that will be reflected on the scoreboard.
Prediction: Chicago 17, San Diego 14