NFL Preseason Schedule 2010: 15 Games With Good Subplots
Last night's Hall of Fame Game officially kicked off the 2010 preseason schedule. The very first game between the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals had plenty of juice in the Terrell Owens subplot, but that is just one of many more games that should get attention as we head toward the regular season.
Old faces in new places, storylines of who isn't quite ready to play, and old grudges renewed dominate the preseason—giving us 15 games to watch even though they may hold our attention for less than one half.
Here is a look at 15 games that should get your football juices flowing for Week One of the regular season.
New York Giants v. New York Jets
What is usually the third preseason game for both teams is the first game this season as both teams open up the New Meadowlands Stadium on Monday, August 16th.
The Giants come off a bitterly disappointing 2009 season with a reconstructed defense while the Jets have been the hot-button topic of the offseason. Although just preseason, neither team wants to be the first loser to the other in the new building. Plus, the Jets' egos are writing a lot checks that they haven't yet cashed.
The conservative, mechanical Giants against the new, brash Jets. Even in the first week of preseason, this game is going to get a lot of attention.
Buffalo Bills at Washington Redskins
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This August 13th rematch of Super Bowl XXVI will garner a lot of attention for what is happening, and not happening, on the Redskins sideline.
Mike Shanahan leads the Redskins out of the tunnel for the first time while Donovan McNabb will make his first start under center for Washington. Plus, there is the whole Albert Haynesworth affair on-going. Will he be playing by then? Will he continue to sit out?
The Redskins also have a deep backfield consisting of Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson, and Willie Parker. How will Shanahan arrange that trio?
Minnesota Vikings at St. Louis Rams
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Two words—Brett. Favre. The likelihood of him playing in this August 14th matchup is very, very slim but it will make no difference. Favre will be the talk of the game. Any time Tarvaris Jackson and/or Sage Rosenfels slips up or there is a misfire, the Favre questions will come about.
There will be the gratuitous mugshot-like views of Brad Childress turning green every time a routine pass hits the turf.
On the other sideline, top overall pick Sam Bradford will direct his first NFL game for a team that has been simply miserable over the last three seasons. Can Bradford provide any glimmer of hope in St. Louis?
Tennessee Titans at Seattle Seahawks
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Pete Carroll takes the field with the Seahawks for the first time and stands on an NFL sideline for the first time in over a decade when the Titans visit Seattle on August 14th. Carroll is now THE guy in Seattle and is arguably the biggest profile on the roster.
But can the aging Matt Hasselbeck show he can be trusted after a couple shaky seasons?
As for Tennessee, there are greater expectations of Vince Young this season. Will this be the year he takes the leap and becomes the true franchise quarterback the Titans hope he will be?
Philadelphia Eagles at Cincinnati Bengals
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This game would have even more electricity to it if Donovan McNabb were still calling plays in Philadelphia. Alas, he is not, but Terrell Owens taking on the Eagles is still a headline that will grab a lot of attention when the two teams meet on August 20th.
Just like the questions directed at T.O. regarding his time in Dallas, the new Bengals receiver will get the same inquiries about his volatile time with the Eagles.
More importantly for the Bengals, will there be more cohesiveness between T.O., Chad Ochocinco, and Carson Palmer?
The Eagles come to town with a new quarterback in Kevin Kolb. How sharp will he look as he nears his official, Week One coming out party as the guy in Philadelphia?
Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals
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Before the Eagles descend on the Queen City, the Broncos will travel to Cincinnati on August 15th where eyes will continue to fall on Tim Tebow and the quarterback situation on the Denver sideline.
The quarterback battle in Denver will be one of the hottest story lines of the preseason. How quickly can Tim Tebow advance on the learning curve. Is it still Kyle Orton's job to lose? Does Brady Quinn have a serious shot at becoming the Week One starter?
Terrell Owens will continue to be the center of the Bengals news makers, but inquiring minds want to see how the Broncos work and evaluate their quarterback question.
Chicago Bears at San Diego Chargers
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Jay Cutler did enough in 2009 to make Bears fans everywhere rip their hair out. Enter offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who has already gushed over Cutler and believes he can turn around the career and success of his big-armed quarterback.
We will see what early advances the duo has made when the Bears travel west on August 14th. Can Martz rein in his quarterback and develop him in a system that brought teams to Super Bowls roughly 10 years ago?
Meanwhile, the Chargers face a number of their own questions. Holdouts by Vincent Jackson, Shawne Merriman, and Marcus McNeil have a chance to disrupt a training camp for a team expecting again go deep in the playoffs.
Arizona Cardinals at Chicago Bears
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Another quarterback battle currently engulfs the Arizona Cardinals. It is expected that Matt Leinart will take over for Kurt Warner come Week One, but the newly acquired Derek Anderson is having a good camp season and at least putting pressure on Leinart for the number one spot.
The Cardinals should be closer to an answer when they visit the Windy City on August 28th. By then, we will have a clearer picture of how the (formerly?) explosive Cardinals offense will operate without Kurt Warner taking the snaps and without Anquan Boldin deflecting some attention away from Larry Fitzgerald.
Indianapolis Colts at Green Bay Packers
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The Colts travel to Green Bay on August 28th, which is right in the wheelhouse of preseason play that we should get a good helping of Aaron Rodgers versus Peyton Manning. While it won't be as exciting as a Week 13 matchup, this should be (at least for a half) one of the most exciting preseason games.
Both teams are running high octane offenses and as sure as Peyton Manning wants to get back to the Super Bowl, Aaron Rodgers wants to show that he can play at a level at least comparable to Manning. Manning versus Rodgers may not last more than a half, but it should be quite a half nonetheless.
Denver Broncos at Minnesota Vikings
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Had enough Tim Tebow and Brett Favre talk? Well, the NFL provides us with one last booster shot of the two when these two sides meet in the final preseason game on September 2. Will Tim Tebow be the main man in Denver by then? Will Brett Favre have strapped on his helmet or mercifully decided to retire for good this time?
The last preseason game will likely feature backups and third stringers for three and a half quarters, but still plenty of time to talk about Friar Tebow and St. Favre for three hours on end.
New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots
For the first time in a decade, the ground under the Patriots' feet is unstable with concerns about Tom Brady's contract talks, Wes Welker's return from knee surgery, and Logan Mankins stirring up noise in the front office. Questions in the secondary continue to haunt the Patriots, who still have not settled on the left cornerback spot.
Randy Moss is in a contract year and already resigned to the notion that he is done in New England. But despite all that, the Patriots will work it out with Brady (because they HAVE to) and that is enough to warm the hearts and provide assurance for Patriots fans.
As for the Saints, they are the defending Super Bowl champs and are enjoying a quiet preseason. They return nearly everyone from their title team and are heavy preseason favorites in the NFC. There isn't much to complain about on the bayou—at least when it comes to football.
San Diego Chargers at New Orleans Saints
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This August 27th matchup is something to watch simply for the Drew Brees quotient. Preseason storylines have already been touched on regarding both teams, but this is about the team that let Brees walk facing the previously beleaguered franchise he took to the mountaintop.
Brees is one of the nice guys in the NFL, but even he has to enjoy sticking it to the Chargers that he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy with the Saints while his former team toils with second round playoff exits.
New York Jets at Carolina Panthers
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The Jets will be in the meat of their Hard Knocks schedule when they visit Carolina on August 21st. This game will be good simply for the reaction shots which will follow in the next episode of the HBO hit series. But the bigger question may be whether or not the Jets can conclude the Darrelle Revis holdout by then.
As for the Panthers, they have a brewing quarterback battle between incumbent Matt Moore and second-round pick Jimmy Clausen. Moore is the leader for the job right now, but a good camp showing by Clausen could give the Panthers something to think about.
The Jets will dominate the headline of the game, but the Panthers have their own questions to work out as well.
San Francisco 49ers at Indianapolis Colts
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The 49ers have been a sexy preseason pick for a few years now. Will 2010 be the year they finally put it together and capture a weakened NFC West?
The 49ers travel to Indianapolis on August 15th with the hopes of showing off a more cohesive offensive unit with Alex Smith, Michael Crabtree, and newly acquired Ted Ginn Jr.
Defensively, San Francisco is led by rising star Patrick Willis, whose unit will get an early test against the Colts. Preseason will give us a glimpse and some hints as to whether this may be the year the 49ers finally make the jump.
Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins
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Week Three of the preseason gives us a matchup of two teams looking to assert themselves in a division with bigger favorites. The Falcons want to rebound from a somewhat disappointing 2009 season and get Matt Ryan back on the path that led the team to the playoffs in 2008.
Likewise, the Dolphins want to find the right rhythm between quarterback Chad Henne and new receiver Brandon Marshall. A quick bond between those two could play a significant roll in how the very competitive AFC East unfolds this season.
The Dolphins are rapidly gaining momentum after taking the last few seasons to rebuild. They could use the preseason as a vault into bigger things in 2010.