NFL Preseason: A Final Night Of Meaningless Games

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 26: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrate a first down during their preseason game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on August 26, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

The final day of the 2012 preseason schedule is here with 13 games on Thursday night.

One more day of this. Just one more day.

This, of course, refers to preseason football. The quality of games in the final week of the preseason can be compared to the Pro Bowl. It's that bad. Not only will starting quarterbacks sit, but some backup quarterbacks will, too. Final roster cuts are coming on Friday night so this is the last time many of these guys will ever play professional football again.

Here are some things to watch for, as we pretend these games are not completely meaningless.

More: Wednesday Night's Preseason Games | Jim Nantz Talks Madden '13

Falcons vs. Jaguars (6:30 p.m.)

Atlanta's offense should look familiar to the Jaguars. The Falcons' offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter, comes to Atlanta this year from Jacksonville, where he ran the Jaguars' offense for five years. But it's not Atlanta's offense that will be under the microscope -- it's Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars. Gabbert's been criticized heavily in his brief NFL career but in this preseason he's completing oer 60 percent of his passes and has three touchdowns to no interceptions.

Jets vs. Eagles (6:35 p.m.)

The 2011 over-hyped club right here. The Jets are trying to get back to the point they were at when they landed in the AFC Championship game two years in a row. The Eagles are trying to live up to last year's Dream Team hype. The quarterbacks are big stories with Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow in New York, and Michael Vick, who won't be playing this game, in Philly. No Vick means more Nick Foles, who has been challenging Russell Wilson for this year's breakout preseason player.

Related video: Eagles preview


Chiefs vs. Packers (7 p.m. NFL Network)

One of two nationally televised games, Chiefs-Packers will likely be a snoozer. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers starters are likely to play a series, maybe two. The Chiefs starters in the same boat -- don't look for more than a couple series out of them. So, battle of the third stringers in Green Bay?

Related video: Chiefs preview

Bills vs. Lions (7 p.m.)

One of the few times where the backup quarterback battle is interesting. The Bills dealt for Tarvaris Jackson this week and released Vince Young. Jackson now competes with Tyler Thigpen for the Bills' backup spot. Thigpen will get most of the playing time but Jackson will have his opportunity in the fourth quarter.

Related video: Lions preview

Vikings vs. Texans (7 p.m.)

Will Adrian Peterson play? The answer is no. He will not play. He's started practicing with contact and all appears to be going well but the Vikings won't be taking any chances and will hold him out for this preseason finale against Houston.

Ravens vs. Rams (7 p.m.)

We're in the middle of filling out our preseason awards for the 2012 NFL season and a strong candidate for my Super Bowl pick is the Ravens. Joe Flacco has had a terrific training camp, the Ravens' defense is still strong and Ray Rice is in the fold. Lots to like about that team. Meanwhile, it's time to figure out which Rams team will show up. The team that was thrashed by 35 points against Indy in the preseason opener? Or the team that beat KC by two touchdowns and nearly beat the Cowboys?

Related video: Rams preview | Ravens preview


Panthers vs. Steelers (7 p.m.)

Too bad this game doesn't count. I'd love to see Cam Newton in year two go up against the famed Steelers defense. The Steelers' offense is the real story in Pittsburgh, though. Mike Wallace is back in the fold but will not play in Thursday night's game. He is trying to learn Todd Haley''s offense, which one veteran said should take him about a week.

Related video: Panthers preview | Steelers Preview

Saints vs. Titans (7 p.m.)

Established quarterback meet young quarterback. Drew Brees is great and everyone knows it. Jake Locker is not (yet) great. Locker's had his ups and downs throughout the preseason but perhaps his best friend should be Chris Johnson, who had a so-so preseason. Locker's success in 2012 will depend on the performance of Chris Johnson.

Bengals vs. Colts (7 p.m.)

There is a quarterback in this game who has accomplished quite a bit in his brief NFL career, and his name is not Andrew Luck. Andy Dalton led the Bengals to the postseason in 2011 with A.J. Green playing a big role along the way. Luck hopes to have a similar season -- at least the part about the playoff appearance. Luck's numbers may be better but don't underestimate how difficult it is for a rookie quarterback to lead his team to the postseason.

Related video: Colts preview

Bears vs. Browns (7:30 p.m.)

The Bears have a receiver now. I'm not sure enough is being made of that. When Marty Booker or Muhsin Muhammad are in the argument for the second best receiver in franchise history, you know you've had a tough run of luck at that position. Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler are reunited, and they're becoming a trendy Super Bowl pick. The Browns, meanwhile, are starting over (again) with Brandon Weeden at quarterback. Trent Richardson, the No. 3 overall pick, will not be playing in this game.


Raiders vs. Seahawks (10 p.m.)

More Russell Wilson? Yes, please. Wilson carved up the Chiefs and won the starting job in a 44-point effort last week against the Chiefs. He's the preseason star this year. Let's see more from him.

Chargers vs. 49ers (10 p.m.)

Is it that crazy to think this could be your Super Bowl matchup? The Chargers are no longer the trendy Super Bowl pick that they once were, but there's no way Philip Rivers will turn the ball over as much as he did last year. This team was almost in the playoffs with one of Rivers' worst statistical seasons. He'll come back to normal and the Chargers will be in the running for the AFC West championship. The 49ers are a popular Super Bowl pick with that defense, but how far can Alex Smith take them?

Related video: 49ers preview

Broncos vs. Cardinals (11 p.m. NFL Network)

Your second nationally televised game. This is a brutal start time for those on the east coast. The two teams' quarterback situations could not be more different. The Broncos moved on from Tim Tebow and signed Peyton Manning, who has looked decent in preseason. The Cardinals don't even have a quarterback yet and neither John Skelton nor Kevin Kolb will be playing in this game. Get ready for your dose of Ryan Lindley.

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