For the first time since the Seattle Seahawks thrashed the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII in February, all eyes will be on the gridiron this weekend, which features a full slate of preseason games involving Super Bowl contenders, players on a quest for redemption and rookies looking to make a statement.
In other words, football is back! We got a taste of things on Sunday night when the New York Giants defeated the Buffalo Bills in the Hall of Fame game, but there will be something for everyone starting on Thursday.
To properly prepare you for the weekend's activities, we have a listing of where you can watch all these games, odds (yes, they exist for preseason games too) and predictions. We will also include storylines to watch over the weekend, just in case you need more reasons to watch closely.
|2014 NFL Preseason Schedule & Odds - Week 1|
|Game||Date, Time (ET)||Spread||TV Schedule||Prediction|
|Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets||Thursday, August 7 at 7 p.m.||Jets (-1.5)||WNDY and WCBS (Local)||Jets 17, Colts 10|
|New England Patriots at Washington||Thursday, August 7 at 7:30 p.m.||Washington (-1.5)||NBC and CSN (Local)||Patriots 21, Washington 14|
|San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens||Thursday, August 7 at 7:30 p.m.||Even||NFL Network||Ravens 20, 49ers 16|
|Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs||Thursday, August 7 at 8 p.m.||Chiefs (-1.5)||WKRC CBS and KCTV CBS (Local)||Bengals 27, Chiefs 23|
|Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos||Thursday, August 7 at 9 p.m.||Broncos (-1.5)||KCPQ Fox and KTVD MyTV (Local)||Broncos 24, Seahawks 17|
|Dallas Cowboys at San Diego Chargers||Thursday, August 7 at 10 p.m.||Chargers (-2.5)||NFL Network||Cowboys 26, Chargers 20|
|Miami Dolphins at Atlanta Falcons||Friday, August 8 at 7 p.m.||Falcons (-2.5)||WFOR CBS and WUPA CW (Local)||Dolphins 17, Falcons 16|
|Buffalo Bills at Carolina Panthers||Friday, August 8 at 7:30 p.m.||Panthers (-1)||WKBW ABC and WCCB CW (Local)||Bills 16, Panthers 13|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Jacksonville Jaguars||Friday, August 8 at 7:30 p.m.||Even||WFLA NBC and WJXT 4 (Local)||Jaguars 26, Bucs 24|
|Oakland Raiders at Minnesota Vikings||Friday, August 8 at 8 p.m.||Vikings (-2)||KTVU Fox and KARE NBC (Local)||Vikings 30, Raiders 23|
|Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears||Friday, August 8 at 8 p.m.||Bears (-1.5)||WPVI ABC and WFLD Fox (Local)||Eagles 21, Bears 10|
|New Orleans Saints at St. Louis Rams||Friday, August 8 at 8 p.m.||Rams (-1.5)||NFL Network||Saints 34, Rams 27|
|Cleveland Browns at Detroit Lions||Saturday, August 9 at 7:30 p.m.||Lions (-1.5)||NFL Network||Lions 22, Browns 15|
|Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants||Saturday, August 9 at 7:30 p.m.||Giants (-3)||KDKA CBS and WNBC (Local)||Steelers 18, Giants 13|
|Green Bay Packers at Tennessee Titans||Saturday, August 9 at 8 p.m.||Even||WGBA NBC and WKRN ABC (Local)||Packers 17, Titans 14|
|Houston Texans at Arizona Cardinals||Saturday, August 9 at 8:30 p.m.||Cardinals (-2.5)||KTRK ABC and KNXV ABC (Local)||Cardinals 30, Texans 20|
|Schedule & TV: NFL.com, Odds: Odds Shark|
It's All About Johnny Football!
How dare the football schedule make us wait until Sunday before we get a glimpse of Johnny Manziel taking his first in-game snaps for the Cleveland Browns!
Browns head coach Mike Pettine has already made Brian Hoyer the starting quarterback for Sunday's game against Detroit. Talking to reporters on Thursday, Pettine said that Manziel isn't going to get any reps with the first team:
I don't think he will. I think we're going to let Brian go. The circumstances could change that, obviously, but for this game, I think we'll stick to the units as we've practiced. So Brian with the ones and Johnny with the twos. We just didn't want to mix the units in this game.
The (over)coverage of Manziel—not to mention his very public extracurricular activities—have made it impossible to properly gauge where he's at in the development cycle. The Browns trust Hoyer, at least to some extent, otherwise he wouldn't be getting pumped up in camp.
Even though he won't be playing with the first team, Manziel's debut is still going to be a spectacle because of the public's fascination with him. Not since Tim Tebow has there been a lightning rod who generates so much attention from those who love and hate him.
The lovers and haters will be out in full force when Manziel steps on the field against Detroit. If he makes a spectacular play, the kind we saw at Texas A&M, don't be surprised if you see stories soon after about the Internet exploding.
The Rebirth of Robert Griffin III
Doesn't it seem like Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III has endured a decade's worth of criticism already? For a player just entering his third year, RG3 has gone from being the poster child for the next generation of NFL quarterbacks to an unstable presence under center.
Washington general manager Bruce Allen finally acknowledged in a radio interview (h/t David Elfin of Yahoo Sports) that Griffin came back too early from his torn ACL last season:
What you saw last year was almost a little disrespectful to the game of football. It's impossible to ask a player to perform well during the regular season if you haven't practiced. Last year at this time, he was still rehabbing his knee, and he wasn't allowed to practice or work in team drills.
We put him on the spot by trying to do that. And this year he's had a full offseason, his knee is 100 percent, knock on wood, and he's had all (the practices), and that's how you get ready to play a football season.
Griffin is an athlete with a competitive fire who was going to do all he could in order to play all 16 games last season. The whole Adidas campaign stating that he was "all in for Week 1" was a huge mistake that put more undue pressure on him.
Now, for the first time since December 2012 we are going to see the real RG3 against New England on Thursday. He should be closer to the quarterback who won Rookie of the Year, especially with new addition DeSean Jackson to open up the field.
The Super Bowl Rematch
For the second consecutive season, the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will meet in the preseason. Seattle got the best of Denver, to put it lightly, in last year's battle, with a 40-10 victory that would serve as a prelude to the 43-8 beatdown that occurred in the Super Bowl.
The starters for these two teams aren't likely to last long, but this will be our first opportunity to see if all the moves Denver made in the offseason to become a more physical team will make any difference.
Mike Klis of The Denver Post acknowledged that the Broncos have to show they can hit this team in the mouth after those two embarrassing losses last season, saying that at least their "pride is at stake."
For the Seahawks, even though the roster is still loaded with talent and the defense will be fantastic, they did undergo changes this offseason with the loss of Russell Wilson's safety net, Golden Tate, and notable defenders Brandon Browner, Chris Clemons and Red Bryant.
Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas are still in the secondary, so don't expect any drop in production from Seattle's pass coverage, even against Peyton Manning.
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