The last week of the NFL preseason will be one more chance for teams to make their final adjustments before games start to count.
While most starters will get the week off to avoid injury and get an extra few days of rest before the regular season, there will still be plenty of things to watch in Week 4. Starting jobs will be decided, final roster spots will be earned and young players might get their last chance to show what they can do before returning to the bench.
This is a big week for the players that also creates some excitement for the fans. Make sure you catch your favorite team with this schedule, while below is a look at the games everyone should watch.
|Atlanta Falcons||Jacksonville Jaguars||6 p.m.|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Green Bay Packers||7 p.m.|
|Detroit Lions||Buffalo Bills||7 p.m.|
|Indianapolis Colts||Cincinnati Bengals||7 p.m.|
|New York Jets||Philadelphia Eagles||7 p.m.|
|St. Louis Rams||Miami Dolphins||7 p.m.|
|New England Patriots||New York Giants||7:30 p.m.|
|Carolina Panthers||Pittsburgh Steelers||7:30 p.m.|
|Washington Redskins||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||7:30 p.m.|
|Minnesota Vikings||Tennessee Titans||8 p.m.|
|San Francisco 49ers||Houston Texans||8 p.m.|
|Denver Broncos||Dallas Cowboys||8 p.m.|
|Baltimore Ravens||New Orleans Saints||8 p.m.|
|Chicago Bears||Cleveland Browns||8 p.m.|
|Arizona Cardinals||San Diego Chargers||10 p.m.|
|Seattle Seahawks||Oakland Raiders||10 p.m.|
San Francisco 49ers vs. Houston Texans
The San Francisco 49ers have gone to three NFC Championship Games in a row and have even higher expectations this year after adding a few more offensive weapons. Unfortunately, the early returns have not been impressive, as noted by ESPN:
Through 3 preseason games, Colin Kaepernick is 12-22, 115 yds, lost fumble. He's led SF to one field goal. pic.twitter.com/NjLKxylvNE— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) August 24, 2014
Colin Kaepernick and the rest of the starters will now get another chance to show what they can do against the Houston Texans, per Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee:
Jim Harbaugh on @KNBR reiterates that Colin Kaepernick will play Thursday in Houston. "That's the way we've always done it ..." coach says.— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) August 26, 2014
Meanwhile, the quarterback responded to questions about their struggles by saying, "I’ve never seen worrying help anyone’s problems or help anyone get better. So we’re not going to worry."
While these games do not count for anything, the 49ers will certainly want to see some signs of life from the offense.
On the Texans' side of the field, young passers Tom Savage and Case Keenum will get a chance to earn a spot as the backup quarterback and potential future of the organization.
These teams had very different seasons last year, but 2014 could be different for each side.
St. Louis Rams vs. Miami Dolphins
While there was speculation about bringing in quarterbacks to contend for the starting job, head coach Jeff Fisher explained to reporters that he is sticking with backup Shaun Hill:
I think it's important once you make a change for whatever reason, you stick with it. And we're sticking with this. There's no doubt about that. That allows everybody to get comfortable and have confidence in who is under center as opposed to 'Well, what are we going to do this week?' There's no doubt that he's our guy and we're going to move forward.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes that Hill has at least some respect around the league:
Talked to 2 GMs about Shaun Hill's preseason. The message was the same: "You know, he's really not bad. Better than a few starters in @NFL."— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 25, 2014
The veteran quarterback has fared well when given a chance in the past, but the question is whether he can become a leader on this team.
As far as the Dolphins are concerned, the biggest story is what will happen at the running back position. Knowshon Moreno, Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas are all competing for touches and could get a leg up in the competition with a strong finish to the preseason.
You can be certain fantasy football owners will pay attention to this battle.
Washington Redskins vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In a week that features mostly backups, few players will be receiving more attention than Kirk Cousins.
The Washington Redskins quarterback has been pushing Robert Griffin III on the depth chart since they were both drafted in 2012. This preseason, Cousins has been outplaying the starter, causing some to believe he should get the job.
Despite the discussions, the Michigan State product knows his role, as he explained to the media:
I have aspirations to someday be a starter. And I can't do that until I do my job as a backup. I can't look down the road too far. I need to be ready as a backup, which means play well in the preseason and when called upon. Coming off the bench in the fourth quarter in December in a blizzard, I've got to be ready. And if I'm not, I'll never be a starter.
It is good to stay focused on his task, although this game could end up being an audition for 31 other teams as well as for the Redskins. If he plays well, the phones could ring in Washington for a potential deal.
Tampa Bay will have less drama on its team, but the young squad will want to keep improving to compete in a tough NFC South division.
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