After whetting our appetite with the first week of preseason games, things get even more intense with Week 2 of the NFL's exhibition schedule. Starters are going to see more action on the field, and position battles will take on greater importance, with every snap becoming more crucial than ever.
On top of the desire to see superstars on the field for a handful of series, fans will also get a more detailed look at what their team's coaches have in the playbook this season.
The schedule lines up very nicely, with a mix of marquee matchups and on-the-rise teams locking horns.
Whatever reasons you might have to tune in, football is football, and it will be compelling television from the first kickoff to the last snap. We're going to plan your weekend for you, with a look at the television schedule for Week 2 and the key games to keep an eye on.
|2014 NFL Preseason Schedule - Week 2|
|Date, Time (ET)||Matchup||TV Info|
|August 14, Final||Chicago 20, Jacksonville 19||ESPN|
|August 15, 7:30 p.m.||Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots||NFL Network|
|August 15, 8 p.m.||Tennessee Titans at New Orleans Saints||WKRN (Tennessee); WVUE (New Orleans)|
|August 15, 10 p.m.||San Diego Chargers at Seattle Seahawks||NFL Network|
|August 15, 10 p.m.||Detroit Lions at Oakland Raiders||ABC 7 (Detroit); Fox 2 (Oakland)|
|August 16, 4 p.m.||Green Bay Packers at St. Louis Rams||NFL Network|
|August 16, 7 p.m.||New York Giants at Indianapolis Colts||WNBC 4 (New York); WISH 8 (Indianapolis)|
|August 16, 7 p.m.||New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals||WCBS 2 (New York); WKRC 12 (Cincinnati)|
|August 16, 7 p.m.||Baltimore Ravens at Dallas Cowboys||NFL Network|
|August 16, 7:30 p.m.||Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers||WKBW (Buffalo); KDKA (Pittsburgh)|
|August 16, 7:30 p.m.||Miami Dolphins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||CBS 4 (Miami); WFLA (Tampa)|
|August 16, 8 p.m.||Atlanta Falcons at Houston Texans||CW69 (Atlanta); KTRK (Houston)|
|August 16, 8:30 p.m.||Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings||ABC15 (Arizona); FSN Plus (Minnesota)|
|August 17, 4 p.m.||Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers||NFL Network|
|August 17, 8 p.m.||Kansas City Chiefs at Carolina Panthers||Fox|
|August 18, 8 p.m.||Cleveland Browns at Washington||ESPN|
Top Games To Watch
August 16: Green Bay Packers at St. Louis Rams
If this game featured only the preseason debut of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, it would be worth a passing glance. But Rodgers will be going against a St. Louis defense that finished third in the league with 53 sacks last year.
The Packers have had offensive line issues in recent years, as evidenced by the fact that Rodgers has been sacked an average of 2.6 times per game since taking over as a full-time starter in 2008.
Last year, Rodgers suffered the first significant injury of his career when Chicago Bears linebacker Shea McClellin tackled him, landed on his shoulder and broke his collarbone. He returned to get revenge on the Bears in Week 17, but it was the first sign that the former MVP isn't invincible.
On the other side of the ball, the Packers are still trying to find depth on the defensive line. Julius Peppers was brought in to upgrade the pass rush and add more explosiveness off the edge.
St. Louis will also get its first look at quarterback Sam Bradford in game action. The former No. 1 overall pick is entering a critical season that could determine if the Rams make him their long-term option under center.
Bradford has been given every opportunity to succeed. The Rams have drafted wide receivers (Tavon Austin) to give him weapons and big offensive linemen (Greg Robinson) to protect him. Now it's up to the 26-year-old to take advantage of his situation.
August 17: Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers
We were one Richard Sherman-deflected pass away from seeing a Denver-San Francisco Super Bowl last February. After notable offseasons for both the Broncos and the 49ers, we get to see how these teams look head-to-head.
If you are looking for other storylines to watch, there's always the intrigue of Peyton Manning being courted by the 49ers two years ago and the first game in San Francisco's brand new Levi's Stadium.
When you break down all 32 NFL rosters, it's difficult to find two that are better top to bottom than the Broncos and 49ers.
There's also an important position battle to watch on San Francisco's side. NaVorro Bowman is still recovering from a torn ACL, so the inside linebacker spot next to Patrick Willis is open. 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio told Taylor Price of the team's official website that Michael Wilhoite and Chris Borland are "very even" in the linebacker battle.
Then there's the intrigue of watching the present and future at quarterback with Manning taking on Colin Kaepernick. While neither signal-caller will unleash his full bag of tricks in a preseason matchup, especially with these teams meeting in Denver October 19, both are still trying to establish a rhythm with their new wide receivers.
August 18: Cleveland at Washington
It's only fitting that Week 2 of the preseason schedule ends with the NFL's most-talked about quarterback battle between Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel.
Hoyer was named the starter for Cleveland Monday night, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:
On top of that, Browns head coach Mike Pettine told 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland, via Marty Gitlin of CBSSports.com, that the quarterback competition could come to an end as soon as Tuesday:
I'm sure we'll sit down at some point next week, maybe more than likely later in the day on Tuesday and get our heads together and wee what we come up with.
We've been able to evaluate the quarterbacks literally with everything they've done. How they are in the meeting room, how they are on the practice field, how they are when they're doing their individual period, how they are in the 7 on 7 and how they are in the team work.
It makes sense that Pettine would make this announcement, since he already said the team wanted to have an answer at quarterback before the third preseason game August 23.
Manziel is a lightning rod whenever he steps on the field and for everything he does off the field. He's never less than fascinating, though the Browns have a defense capable of carrying the team to a playoff berth if their quarterback is even adequate.
Nothing else that happens on the field Monday night will register in the grand scheme of things, but all eyes will be focused on what happens under center for the Browns. It should also help bring the battle to start into focus.
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