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The story of the first preseason week (aside from all those unders hitting) might be the story of the NFL regular season too: The rookie quarterbacks looked very good.
Five quarterbacks were drafted in the first round of the draft and all of them played well last week. All of them are making cases to start right away, if they haven't been expected to start already. We saw Mac Jones' second game with the New England Patriots, and the rest of the rookies will be a big part of the rest of the second preseason week.
Here's a look at the Saturday and Sunday NFL preseason games this week, with spreads from BetMGM:
Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears (-4)
Rookie Bears quarterback Justin Fields couldn't have looked much better in his preseason debut. If he keeps playing as well as he did last week, it'll be hard for the Bears to not start him Week 1. The Bears' starters will play more than last week. Bills coach Sean McDermott said quarterback Josh Allen and "a number of starters" won't play, Though they will use former Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who will have some motivation. Still, it seems like the Bears will be the team taking this game more seriously.
New York Jets (-2.5) at Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers won't play for the Packers, which is smart. The Packers were among the teams to sit the most players last week, and they should continue that trend. The Jets need to get a look at their young players, including exciting quarterback Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick who had a nice debut last week.
Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins (-5)
You'd assume the Falcons, with rookie head coach Arthur Smith, would want a better showing after losing 23-3 last week. The Falcons aren't expected to play starters a lot, but perhaps we will see a more focused effort from those who do play.
Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) at Carolina Panthers
The Ravens have won 18 preseason games in a row, which is one of the weirder streaks in sports. John Harbaugh wants to win and like he said, the Ravens' organizational depth is an edge in these games. The Panthers are coming off a loss in their first preseason game, and I prefer backing teams in that spot. Panther coach Matt Rhule hinted the starters including quarterback Sam Darnold will play at least a little. I hate going against streaks, but I lean to the Panthers.
Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.5)
The Lions will be sitting many starters including quarterback Jared Goff, which is why this line is so high. Ben Roethlisberger will be playing for the Steelers, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. I'm not sure I love taking a team giving almost a touchdown in the preseason, but it would also be tough to take the Lions.
Tennessee Titans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1)
The Buccaneers have said they'll sit starters, which makes sense when you have 22 starters returning from a championship team. Titans coach Mike Vrabel wasn't happy with one of his team's practices against the Bucs this week, and perhaps that causes him to push a little harder than normal for a preseason game.
“From what I saw, we didn’t do well offensively,” Vrabel said after Thursday's practice, via SI.com. “I don’t think we competed like we did (Wednesday). Probably a lot of reasons but just not good enough. (The Buccaneers) were clearly better (Thursday).
“We will see how we respond and take the coaching and play on Saturday.”
The Titans seem like the better side.
Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys (-4)
The Texans had a great performance against the Packers, which we called in this spot last week. With a rookie head coach, a lot of new players and a team that isn't expected to be great, I'd expect Houston to take the entire preseason more seriously than their opponents. The Cowboys are 0-2 in the preseason and won't want a third straight dude, but I'd still take the Texans and the points.
Indianapolis Colts at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5)
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has a great 20-6 record in preseason games, but he sat 33 players last week. That was second to only the Rams, according to NFL analyst Warren Sharp. They lost 33-6, Zimmer is talking about needing some success, so the Vikings are an easy play this week.
Las Vegas Raiders (-6.5) at Los Angeles Rams
The Raiders were motivated for last week's preseason game, with it being the first game in front of Las Vegas fans. The Rams don't care about the preseason and will sit just about everyone again, but if there's such thing as a letdown spot in the preseason, this is it for the Raiders. Take the points and the Rams' JV team.
Denver Broncos (-5) at Seattle Seahawks
The Broncos looked pretty good last week, and part of that is having to play quarterbacks Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater a lot to determine who will start Week 1. The Seahawks looked really bad, especially on offense, and that bad 20-7 loss to the Raiders is why I'll take them and the points this week. Seattle won't want to go into the third preseason game on two straight stinkers.
New York Giants at Cleveland Browns (-5.5)
The first of two Sunday games, we get a Giants team that looked bad in a 12-7 loss to the Jets against a Browns team off a win. There's no definitive word on New York's plans for its starters, but I like the Giants in this spot.
San Francisco 49ers (-5) at Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers sat a lot of starters, which is to be expected considering new coach Brandon Staley is from the Sean McVay tree. Expect more of the same this week, while 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan will play starters a bit. And then rookie quarterback Trey Lance will get an extended look after a debut that had some great plays and a bit of a disappointing finish. The 49ers are the pick here.
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