Week One of the NFL Preseason is underway as all teams are set to play this Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. For most, this is the first time competing against another team, and it is an opportunity for more under-the-radar players to showcase their abilities, as most starters may only see the field for a few plays. Out of all the games these next few days, here are six worth watching if your favorite team doesn’t have a game on that day.
The Six Games to Watch during Week One of the Preseason
Texans vs Patriots 7:00 PM EDT
Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud will get the start for the first preseason game of the 2023 season. Houston has a revamped offense with the acquisitions of Dalton Schultz, Robert Woods, and Tank Dell, which should yield better results. The real story for the Texans is the defense. They added future star Will Anderson Jr. to complement their young core to create an unproven but hungry defense.
New England finds itself in an odd position with Mac Jones not fully living up to expectations with a meager receiving core. They added Mike Gesicki and JuJu Smith-Schuster to beef up their pass catchers, but there is no clear first option. Expect Head Coach Bill Belichick to mix up personnel groups frequently as the team works to get everyone involved this preseason.
Packers vs Bengals 7:00 PM EDT
Jordan Love has his first start at quarterback since 2021. This marks the beginning after Aaron Rodgers departed this offseason for the New York Jets. This game is an opportunity to see how Love will perform with a young and unproven receiving corps, although he will have some help from an experienced backfield in Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon this season.
The Bengals are looking to pick up from where they left off last season, where they lost in the AFC championship, to eventual Super Bowl Champions, Kansas City. Joe Burrow is nursing a calf injury, so we won’t see much from him until the regular season starts. The starters, minus Burrow, will most likely play in the first and second quarters, and the third and fourth will be an opportunity for fifth-year head coach Zac Taylor to test his second, third, and fourth stringers against a solid Packers defense.
Falcons vs Dolphins 7:00 PM EDT
The Falcons have indicated “the time is now” for second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder. Ridder is the starter for the foreseeable future after the franchise moved on from their Marcus Mariota experiment. This game is also a chance to see eighth-overall pick Bijan Robinson suit up for Atlanta. The young running back from Texas is already a big name in the NFL but hasn’t played a single snap yet. There are high expectations for the rookie back.
Miami is looking forward to having a healthy quarterback this season, and for that reason, will not have Tua Tagovailoa play that much this preseason. Instead, newly-acquired quarterback Mike White and current second-stringer Skylar Thompson will likely share the reins. The Dolphins have the same offensive weapons but will continue to work on a true starting running back as Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. shared duties last season.
Colts vs Bills 1:00 PM EDT
The quarterback battle between Gardner Minshew and Anthony Richardson continues for the Colts. Both players have been taking reps with the first-team offense, but neither can seem to separate himself from the other. Richardson is a pure dual-threat with his running ability and arm talent. While Minshew is coming off a backup season behind Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia with something to prove. Look for rookie wide receiver Josh Downs to get a lot of reps in the slot and outside, as he has been performing very well during training camp.
Buffalo is looking to continue their winning ways as they have made the playoffs the last few seasons but haven’t been able to make it past the AFC Championship. Quarterback Josh Allen likely won’t play very much, leaving Kyle Allen and Matt Barkley in charge of the offense. James Cook is set to have an increase in touches this season as the lead running back, so the team may look to sit him to conserve.
Panthers vs Jets 4:00 PM EDT
First-overall pick Bryce Young will begin his career at quarterback against New York, as he has been looking phenomenal this training camp. Young has won the players’ respect in the locker room and took over the starting role from veteran quarterback Andy Dalton. This game is also an opportunity for Carolina to show their improved offense with the additions of Adam Thielen, DJ Chark, Miles Sanders, and Hayden Hurst. Defensively, look for new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero to rotate through positions as he works to find someone to play opposite of Pro-Bowler Brian Burns.
The Jets are coming off a loss in the Hall of Fame game against the Cleveland Browns. Although this helps the team identify what went wrong after they were up 13-0 at halftime. Look for Zach Wilson to have more time on the field, as he had a solid game last week with a 104.2 passer rating. Aaron Rodgers is also expected to touch the field at some point these next three weeks, but it will likely be Wilson and Tim Boyle showcasing their abilities.
49ers vs Raiders 4:00 PM EDT
The 49ers have quite the problem at quarterback. Trey Lance is coming off of injury, Sam Darnold is mediocre, and Brock Purdy hasn’t been fully cleared to play. Expect the team to cycle through what available quarterbacks they have. Head Coach Kyle Shanahan has his work cut out for him if he wants to get back to the NFC Championship, and it all starts with the preseason.
The Jimmy Garoppolo era in Las Vegas is underway, although he declined to participate in minicamps and OTAs with the team, leading to some communication issues with his receivers. New addition Marcus Peters looks to be an impactful player for a defense that has ranked in the bottom five the past few seasons. The real battle is between the offensive linemen. They have the chance to prove themselves against a stout 49ers defense.
Week One of the Preseason usually is the time for newly-drafted rookies to star and other overlooked players to make an impression on their respective teams. These six games will showcase the talent of some of the NFL’s newest studs and will be fascinating as five of the teams listed will have brand new presumed starting quarterbacks leading the offense.