We don't expect for the first team, especially offensive stars, on the field for very long. But that's no reason to skip preseason games. There are quite a few that will give us a good show; and some position battles are sure to shake out as the four otherwise meaningless games give each team a chance to prepare for the real thing.
I'll just jump right in to my first choice, and that's the Hall Of Fame game on Aug. fourth between Miami and Dallas. One of the biggest stories this off-season was the giant contract signed by Tony Romo. This may be a good chance to see if he is distracted by the hype, or focused on football. Also in the mix is newly acquired receiver, Mike Wallace on the other side. And is Miami improved enough to challenge the Patriots for the division? These may not be answered fully after one preseason game, but a lot of talk should follow anyway.
The very next game on the docket pits Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens against new and improved Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night. Is the criticism of the Ravens justified? Are the Bucs the real deal this year? Watch and get a feeling for where these two teams are headed in 2013.
That same evening may be a preview of the Super Bowl. On tap are two teams that are being predicted as possibly the best in their conferences at this point in the discussion. The Manning-led Broncos will face the disappointed, runner-up Forty-Niners. Kaepernick has been maligned as a flash-in-the-pan who will get stifled in his running game and falter as a passer because of it. This is a good match-up between the old man and the newbie.
Thursday the 15th brings us the Falcons taking on the champion Ravens. We all want to see if the Falcons and Matt Ryan have anything for Baltimore. Atlanta claims to be a complete team; if they have truly filled all the holes, they should show it here against the Super Bowl winners.
The Seahawks are the other team in the NFC being touted as the one to beat in 2013. Saturday the 17th has the Broncos visiting Seattle to deny them that claim. It's another young QB going against the long-time master.
Another Thursday night game has the Patriots rolling into Detroit to face the Lions. Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford both put up a lot of yards, but the Patriots tend to put up a lot more points. The difference in this one may be the running game, where New England, and specifically Stevan Ridley, holds the advantage.
All of the final week's games take place on Thursday night the 29th. Check out these games for their rivalry status:
1. Patriots against the Giants... Brady wants to show that Eli does NOT have his number, and it's the new, New York-New England rivalry.
2. Texans against the Cowboys... Is either QB ready to join the ranks of the elite? Hey, it's Texas, after all.
3. Niners against the Chargers... if Phillip Rivers is going to prove he still is a great quarterback, he needs to do it against top competition. And it all takes place in sunny, Southern California!
Don't expect to see the hardest hitting, highest scoring games of 2013, this is just the preseason. But do expect to see guys battling for positions as the regular season inches closer.