NFL Preseason: 10 Things to Watch for in Final Week of Preseason
The NFL preseason is almost finished and there are several story lines that will be concluded before the regular season starts. Some of your favorite players like Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, and Michael Vick all have question marks surrounding them and the final week of preseason games is the last place you can look for an answer. Read on for 10 reasons why you should be tuned in to the final week of preseason games and why preseason games do matter!
Will Cam Newton Play Well Enough to Secure the Starting Role?
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Cam Newton was the first overall draft pick and one of the most scrutinized draft picks in recent memory. Newton has had a couple good games in the preseason so far and is looking to secure the starting quarterback job over Jimmy Clausen.
Head Coach Ron Rivera has yet to announce his starter but he has said Newton will start the teams final preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a huge test for a rookie and Newton's chances of starting seem to rely heavily on how he performs in this game. If he can be effective against a defense as dynamic as the Steelers, then the starting gig is his but if he sputters and Clausen does not, Cam will be holding a clipboard.
I can't see Newton being really effective against the Steelers but I expect him to play well enough to impress the coaching staff and solidify his starting role.
How Will Michael Vick Bounce Back After a Couple Down Weeks in a Row?
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Michael Vick hasn't played well at all so far in the preseason and he did particularly bad against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second week of preseason games. He threw three interceptions and looked flustered against the very good Steeler defense. Mike Vick is too good to play this bad and I fully expect him to bounce back against the New York Jets.
Look for Vick to be dynamic in both rushing and passing and for the Eagles to win by double digits in New York.
Is Tim Tebow the Second String QB in Denver?
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Tim Tebow is one of the most popular players in sports, let alone the NFL, but he is the most critiqued player I have ever seen in sports. He was an icon at Florida but he has been the subject to a ton of controversy in the NFL over if he can be a successful QB. Countless people like Merril Hoge of ESPN have said Tebow will fail, while others like Drew Brees think patience is needed.
Tebow is a unique case and he should be given the backup role rather than the third string spot but that doesn't mean his performance against the Arizona Cardinals won't be critical to his spot on the team. He will still have to play well or else the doubters will come calling again.
Can the Giants Get Rid of the Injury Bug?
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So far the New York Giants have been bitten by the injury bug and they have to be looking to catch a break and not have a significant injury in the final week of the preseason. The Giants lost starting CB Terrell Thomas to a torn ACL and starting defensive end Osi Umenyiora to knee surgery, and when coupled with the losses of Kevin Boss and Steve Smith, the team can't afford to lose anymore key players.
The Giants have a decimated secondary because of injuries, and that would be the worst area to lose another player. The team looked to have a promising secondary but injuries to Thomas, first round choice Prince Amukamara, Bruce Johnson, and Brian Witherspoon have made it an area of concern.
Can David Garrad Keep His Starting QB Role over Rookie Blaine Gabbert?
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David Garrad is the starter right now but Blaine Gabbert is nipping at his heels and both think they have the tools to be the starter. It's looking like Garrad will be the starter going in to the regular season but he hasn't done anything to help his case in the preseason and Gabbert certainly has played better. More than likely the team will hand the job over to Gabbert towards the end of the year, once the team realizes the year is lost.
The Jags have a tough matchup with the undefeated St. Louis Rams and both quarterbacks should have a tough time passing the ball. If Garrad plays well, then his starting role is solidified but if Gabbert plays better, then Garrad should still be the starter but he could be replaced much quicker.
Can Chad Henne Continue His Solid Play and Silence His Doubters?
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Chad Henne has played well this preseason and has quieted most of his doubters who wanted the Miami Dolphins to trade for Kyle Orton, rather than keep Henne as the starter. Henne had a good game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is looking more and more like the clear starter at QB.
Now people are starting to realize that Henne is getting better but can Henne keep up his solid play in the last preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys? I'm guessing he will and that the Dolphins will beat the Cowboys. If Henne and Brandon Marshall can keep up their new found connection, then the Dolphins could have a well rounded offense when you throw in Anthony Fasano and Reggie Bush.
How Will Kevin Kolb Play in His Fourth Game as an Arizona Cardinal?
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Kevin Kolb was the big offseason acquistion for the Arizona Cardinals and there is a lot of pressure on him to perform, and perform well. Kolb has looked good in preseason games up to this point and he seems to be getting a grip over the offense. He has developed a bond with star receiver Larry Fitzgerald, as shown by an 80 yard TD pass yesterday, and the two could form a dynamic duo in the desert.
Kolb should play a majority of the final preseason game against the Denver Broncos and I expect him to play fairly well.
Can Colin Kaepernick Take over the Starting Role from Alex Smith?
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The San Francisco 49ers used their second round draft pick on QB Colin Kaepernick and they could really use solid play from him. Current starter Alex Smith has played awfully and the Niners don't need for Kaepernick to play bad too. Kaepernick was one of the better dual threat quarterbacks in the drafts and the Niners were smart to take him.
Since the lockout took away a lot of valuable learning time for Kaepernick, I don't expect him to take the starting job going in to the regular season but by week eight, I fully expect him to be the starting QB.
Will Arian Foster Be Ready to Go After Another Hamstring Injury?
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Houston Texan RB Arian Foster tweaked his left hamstring against the 49ers in the third week of the preseason and he certainly raised a lot of concern about if it was a serious injury. Luckily for the Texans, it looks like Foster will be ok, but does that mean he'll still play in the final preseason game? Most likely not but Texans fans should be thrilled this isn't more serious.
Foster will take his time to recover and the team certainly will not push him and allow him to take his time. This means all you fantasy players who have Foster on your team, should not fret and feel free to start Foster in week one.
Will the Trio of Undefeated Teams Keep Their Perfect Records?
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The St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions and Houston Texans are the three remaining undefeated teams and all three would like to keep their record unblemished and head in to the regular season on a high note. While preseason football doesn't count for anything on their record, it does give the team more confidence if they perform well.
The Rams play the Jaguars in Jacksonville and they should have plenty of opportunities to beat the Jags. Look for Sam Bradford to have a big game against a rather porous Jaguars defense. The Rams have a favorable matchup and should end the preseason undefeated.
The Lions play the Bills in Buffalo and play a Bills team coming off a win against the Jaguars. The Lions have the best point differentials so far and that shouldn't change after this game. Look for the Lions to keep their undefeated mark.
The Houston Texans play the Vikings in Minnesota and it should be an entertaining game. The Texans dynamic offense will matchup with a good Vikings defense and something is going to have to give. The Texans are the team most likely to lost their perfect record but I think they hold on to become the third perfect preseason team.