The Philadelphia Eagles vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday Night Football game started Week 3 of the 2014 NFL preseason on the right foot, and fans are excited to see who their favorite team squares off against.
With 15 games spread out over the next three days, the anticipation for the start of the regular season will peak as the first-team offenses and defenses spend the majority of the game on the field for the first time.
The regular season is almost upon us.
Here is the full Week 3 schedule, viewing information, predictions for each game and the must-watch matchup.
|Week 3 NFL Schedule and Viewing Information|
|Friday, Aug. 22||Time (ET)||TV|
|Carolina at New England||7:30 p.m.||N/A|
|NY Giants at NY Jets||7:30 p.m.||N/A|
|Jacksonville at Detroit||7:30 p.m.||N/A|
|Oakland at Green Bay||8 p.m.||CBS|
|Chicago at Seattle||10 p.m.||NFL|
|Saturday, Aug. 23||Time (ET)||TV|
|Tampa Bay at Buffalo||4:30 p.m.||NFL|
|Dallas at Miami||7 p.m.||N/A|
|Tennessee at Atlanta||7 p.m.||N/A|
|Washington at Baltimore||7:30 p.m.||N/A|
|New Orleans at Indianapolis||8 p.m.||CBS|
|St. Louis at Cleveland||8 p.m.||N/A|
|Minnesota at Kansas City||8 p.m.||N/A|
|Houston at Denver||9 p.m.||N/A|
|Sunday, Aug. 24||Time (ET)||TV|
|San Diego at San Francisco||4 p.m.||FOX|
|Cincinnati at Arizona||8 p.m.||NBC|
|Source: NFL.com. N/A indicates not nationally televised.|
Game of the Week: Houston Texans vs. Denver Broncos
The most interesting matchup in Week 3 is the AFC battle between the Houston Texans and the Denver Broncos. With both teams marching the first string out for their longest starts of the preseason, this should be a great test of where each franchise stands.
The home team Saturday night will be Denver. With a strong crowd of fans cheering them on, the Broncos will put their potent offense and much-improved defense to the test.
On the offensive side of the ball, veteran quarterback Peyton Manning is back for another season and looking for another Super Bowl. Manning will have the help of elite weapons such as Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas and should have no problem replicating his elite numbers from last year.
The real upgrades came on the defensive side of the ball for the Broncos. After signing defensive end DeMarcus Ware, cornerback Aqib Talib and safety T.J. Ward, it has become abundantly clear that the franchise is all-in on this year’s team.
After a lackluster practice against Houston on Wednesday, though, Manning told Arnie Stapleton of The Associated Press, via the Rutland Herald, about his team’s mindset heading into the third week of preseason:
I kind of call it like I see it. When you have a pretty below-average practice, you’ve got to call it a below-average practice. So, I think this team does a pretty good job staying pretty even-keeled. I don’t think anybody is overly excited about beating a San Francisco team that didn’t have Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, that didn’t blitz us one time, playing kind of a pretty vanilla scheme. They will be a different animal when we play those guys in the regular season, trust me.
A focused Denver team is trouble for everyone in the AFC, but Houston will be the first to deal with the juggernauts. On Saturday night, the Texans will be looking to stun the football world and gain momentum for the regular season.
The key to Houston’s success will be the offense. Led by new starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, the team must do its best to keep star players like Arian Foster and Andre Johnson healthy and playing at an elite level. The tough test against Denver’s defense will be a good gauge of where the team is offensively.
The Texans are also strong on defense and will need to show their best against Manning and his weapons. With J.J. Watt on the line, Jadeveon Clowney pass rushing off the edge and Johnathan Joseph shutting down top wide receivers, Houston’s defense should be tough to beat this season.
Manning understands the talent of the Texans and will take it as a personal challenge.
Predicted Winner: Denver 30, Houston 20
*Stats via NFL.com.