The NFL preseason comes to an end on Thursday with 16 games being played. After that, all the games will count and all the rosters will be set to 53 men, all ready to embark on a Super Bowl chase.
However, we aren't to that point yet. For now, we brace for a can-you-handle-it night of preseason football in which most starters won't even see the field. If this is the type of thing that makes you think it's time to bet the house, your first-born and your supper money, then this piece is for you.
The lines for Week 4 of the preseason, per OddsShark.com:
Considering how many injuries the Bills have, it's hard to believe they will play anybody who might impact their 2013 season for long. It's impossible to guess who will play quarterback for Buffalo in this one, with undrafted rookie free agent Jeff Tuel likely starting Week 1. Will Doug Marrone actually put him in harm's way?
This is a nice matchup between two playoff teams from a year ago, until you remember it will be Andrew Luck holding a clipboard while Chandler Harnish attempts to play football and stuff. The Bengals are the favorite if for no other reason than they are at home and employ the slightly deeper team, especially on defense.
This contest will serve as one last chance to see Chip Kelly's offense before its legitimate debut against the Washington Redskins. On the other side, Rex Ryan is planning on playing Geno Smith the entire game behind third-stringers well into the fourth quarter. Hey, it's all about winning right?
The Jaguars won't be favored much this season, so this is a nice oddity. In all seriousness, the Jags have been pretty frisky the last couple of weeks, playing the Jets to a first-half draw before fighting tough against Philadelphia. Atlanta is ready to play some meaningful football, hoping to erase the sting of last year's NFC Championship Game.
Mike Tomlin and his Steelers are still looking for their first win of the preseason. It's been ugly so far for the Black and Gold, not running the ball well with Le'Veon Bell injured and Jonathan Dwyer proving ineffective. Carolina has shown flashes, especially linebacker Luke Kuechly, who continues to look like the lovechild of Brian Urlacher and Ray Lewis.
For some reason, the Dolphins are the heavy favorite in this contest. Maybe the bookmakers figure the Saints will run away from Miami to avoid being near those new uniforms. It would certainly be understandable. On another note, Luke McCown has been one of the best players this preseason, and it's likely he'll see ample time.
This could be the swan song for Tim Tebow. Maybe he'll shock us all and throw for positive yardage. When these two teams get together, crazy things tend to happen so maybe Tebow will chuck the rock for 400 yards and six touchdowns, making ESPN explode with the sound of screaming high school girls at a One Direction concert.
With Kirk Cousins and Robert Griffin III on the shelf, Rex Grossman is preparing to play a serious amount of football, thus driving fans away from the stadium in droves. Washington has looked good this preseason, trouncing the Bills last week, 30-7. Tampa Bay actually has another scrimmage after this, facing the Jets in Week 1.
In a battle of two rookie head coaches, the Browns and Bears will trot out Josh McCown and Jason Campbell in a can-you-top-this epic. Cleveland will continue to hone its offense with Norv Turner at the controls. Turner was one of the worst head coaches in recent memory, but an excellent offensive coordinator.
Speaking of coaching, this matchup might shatter the mark of blank stares throughout a game. Gary Kubiak has enjoyed some success, but ironically because of Wade Phillips, who holds the record for blank stares during a game. Jason Garrett generally looks confused, maybe because he is. This is must-see TV.
Considering the game is at Arrowhead Stadium, it's amazing the Chiefs are favored. Once a vaunted venue, Arrowhead has become a beacon of hope for all opponents, with Kansas City only having three preseason wins in the building since 2007. Green Bay will be featuring a ton of Vince Young, which may be the reason why the Chiefs are favored after all.
Two great running backs, two unfortunate quarterbacks. Minnesota will be playing a ton of Matt Cassel, which any Chiefs fan knows is a sad story. Conversely, Ryan Fitzpatrick will take the reins for Tennessee. This has a chance to actually be one of the better quarterback duels on Thursday. Welcome to the preseason.
This is the biggest spread of the week. St. Louis comes in after looking very good against the Denver Broncos in Week 3 despite ultimately losing. The Ravens will be sitting anybody worth two cents, so this line makes some sense. Jeff Fisher might be trying to score 50 points in this one, still bitter over the Ravens stealing his 2000 championship.
In all honesty, it will be interesting to see how Brock Osweiler plays for the Broncos. If Peyton Manning goes down with any type of injury, we all need to know the level of screwed Denver comes in at. Are the Broncos 2-14 screwed, or do they have a ceiling of 7-9 screwed?
Nobody is happier this game falls on Week 4 of the preseason than Philip Rivers. Watching San Diego this preseason, it's hard to think the line is doing anything but placing bets on which player can get to Rivers faster. It's been ugly to watch and the 49ers defense would have made it even more unpleasant.
This is one of the few showdowns in which we have a legit story line to watch. Terrelle Pryor is getting the start, trying to secure the starting job over Matt Flynn. Unfortunately, Pryor isn't playing behind a Raiders line of Jim Otto, Gene Upshaw and Art Shell. Head coach Dennis Allen is really taking a risk by playing Pryor against this defense.