It’s the final week of the NFL preseason, and then the league takes a week off to make final cuts and prepare for the games that count. That means that after a quick taste of football betting again, this will be your last chance to bet on the NFL until after Labor Day.
Here’s what you need to know before making your NFL picks in a week where time for starters will likely be scarce, people who will be applying for personal trainer jobs next week will be playing most of the fourth quarter, and no one on the field really cares who wins.
NFL Preseason: Week 3
Thursday, August 25, 2022 – Sunday, August 28, 2022
No1. This Ain’t the Theater
Back in the day, Week 3 was the “dress rehearsal” for teams. Starters would play late into the first half, often taking the field again after halftime. Star players, who were held out to reduce wear, tear, and injury risk, might make their only appearance on the exhibition schedule.
All that changed last year, when the NFL expanded the regular season to 17 games. To make room for an additional game on the schedule, the league eliminated the fourth week of the preseason, replacing it with a league-wide bye before the opener.
Now, the teams that bother to hold dress rehearsals do so in Week 2, focusing on the battles for the final roster spots in Week 3.
More and more teams are bypassing the dress rehearsal altogether, however, at least one is in front of paying fans. Teams around the league held joint practices with another team prior to Week 2, giving coaches several days of seeing their team go up against guys in other jerseys. The prevailing sentiment is that gives a much better sense of a team’s readiness.
What Kind of Lineups Should You Expect?
Many teams benched key starters last week after having the joint practices, and it’s even less likely we’ll see them this week. That means you can expect plenty of rookies and young players to see the bulk of the playing time. It makes for a dramatic episode of Hard Knocks, but it throws a wrench into the prospect of picking winners.
Keep a close eye on the team beat writers to see who is declared out early this week.
2. Avoid the Panthers
The Carolina Panthers have been a bad football team in coach Matt Rhule’s first two seasons, going 10-23 and leading to speculation that Rhule may be headed back to college, whether he wants to go or not.
This is thought to be a win-or-else season for Carolina and Rhule, who blew up an aging roster and hasn’t seen results from his youth movement.
The team rebuilt the offensive line over the offseason, but it’s been the same results in the preseason. The New England pass rush shredded the Panthers starters in last week’s joint practices and preseason game.
The team still hasn’t announced a starter at quarterback, but it doesn’t matter who wins the job if he’s going to be running for his life. The team draws Buffalo this week, which could mean another long night for the line.
3. Look Out for the Lions
The Detroit Lions have been much worse for much longer, but the team got a showcase on Hard Knocks this year, allowing the HBO audience to see fiery new coach Dan Campbell.
The Lions have played two games that went to the wire, winning one and losing one. But the team seems to have a new attitude and is responding to its unorthodox, in-your-face coach.
The Lions draw the Steelers this week and could be looking to send a message against one of the league’s signature franchises.
4. Quarterback Competition in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh faces the prospect of replacing a franchise quarterback this season as the Steelers said goodbye to Ben Roethlisberger, who retired after last season and, unlike other future Hall of Famers, stayed retired.
Pittsburgh has a veteran and a rookie battling to replace Roethlisberger. Mitch Trubisky, who struggled in Chicago, was brought in and entered camp as the most likely candidate to take over. Trubisky has struggled so far, while rookie Kenny Pickett has lit things up.
Despite holding off on showing his hand either way, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin seems to be leaning toward sticking with Trubisky. The Steelers host the Lions, and, with the Pittsburgh fans likely to be very vocal in support of Pickett, who starred in that same stadium in college with Pitt, Tomlin may decide to keep his candidates under wraps for the game and give the bulk of the time to Mason Rudolph and Chris Oladokun.
5. Quarterback Competition in Atlanta
Atlanta also faces the prospect of replacing a franchise quarterback this season as they saw Matt Ryan depart.
The Falcons also went with a vet and a kid, bringing in longtime Tennessee starter Marcus Mariota to battle Desmond Ridder, who led Cincinnati to the College Football Playoff last season.
Ridder leads Atlanta in both passing and rushing so far this preseason. In both situations, the young draft pick will eventually take over, but the question is how soon? And how will Week 3 play into the decision?
The Falcons host Jacksonville this week, who looks as woeful as the Jaguars have been in recent years. That could give Ridder a chance to shine and lock up the job.