It’s time to get back to football! All 32 NFL clubs will be in action this week. The preseason kicked off on Sunday with the NFL/Hall of Fame Game between the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins. The other 30 NFL teams will make their season debuts on the schedule this week.
Six games will be featured on national TV this week, starting with the Cincinnati Bengals visiting the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night (August 8, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN) and concluding with the Indianapolis Colts hosting the Buffalo Bills on Sunday (August 11, 1:30 PM ET, NFL Network).
Thursday, August 8
Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons 8:00 PM (ESPN)
Seattle Seahawks at San Diego Chargers 11:00 PM (joined in-progress at NFLN)
Friday, August 9
New England Patriots at Philadelphia Eagles 7:30 PM (NFLN)
Dallas at Oakland 10:30 PM (joined in-progress at NFLN)
Saturday, August 10
New York Giants at Pittsburgh Steelers 7:30 PM (NFLN)
Sunday, August 11
Buffalo at Indianapolis 1:30 PM (NFLN)
Some of the highlight games in Week 1 of the NFL preseason:
CINCINNATI BENGALS at ATLANTA FALCONS (Thursday, ESPN, 8:00 PM ET)
A pair of 2012 playoff teams will meet at the Georgia Dome on Thursday night as both teams enter 2013 with high expectations.
Before the clubs face one another on Thursday night, the two squads will practice together during the week.
“We’ll get a chance to play live on Thursday night,” says Bengals head coach MARVIN LEWIS, whose team will be featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks. “There’s a mental aspect, there’s a speed aspect, there’s a tempo, there’s the execution part, and then the live football will come on Thursday night. This is going to be a real good opportunity for our starting groups to get work against good people.”
Atlanta quarterback MATT RYAN, who signed a five-year contract extension with the Falcons this offseason, is excited for the season ahead.
“There are great football players on this team at a lot of different positions,” says Ryan. “As a quarterback, it’s really fun to be a part of that. This is an opportunity to continue my career in a place that I call home and in a city that I love. I think we have the best fans in the league. I’m really excited.”
NEW YORK GIANTS at PITTSBURGH STEELERS (Saturday, NFLN, 7:30 PM ET)
The Giants and Steelers will meet on Saturday night at Heinz Field. But both teams hope to end up at New York’s MetLife Stadium on Sunday, February 2, 2014 for Super Bowl XLVIII.
“Right now, I have two Super Bowls,” says Giants quarterback ELI MANNING, who has guided New York to wins in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. “I want to get three. Then I’ll go from there. Every day, I see MetLife Stadium and feel that we are a championship-caliber team. There’s a sense of urgency this year focused on, ‘Hey, that Super Bowl championship is the goal.’ Let’s practice, prepare and do everything the way it needs to be done.”
Pittsburgh quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER has also won two Super Bowls (XL and XLIII) and hopes to add to that total. In fact, his goal is to pass Pro Football Hall of Famer TERRY BRADSHAW, who won four Super Bowls with the Steelers.
“I want to pass Terry Bradshaw by getting more Super Bowl wins,” says Roethlisberger. “That’s our expectation in Pittsburgh.”
BUFFALO BILLS at INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (Sunday, NFLN, 1:30 PM ET)
The first full week of preseason action concludes on Sunday afternoon when the Colts host the Bills at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Last year, the Colts, led by a rookie quarterback, finished 11-5 and advanced to the postseason. The Bills may look to follow that script in 2013.
Indianapolis’ ANDREW LUCK, who guided the Colts to a nine-win turnaround from the previous year, set a rookie record with 4,374 yards and became the first rookie in NFL history to pass for at least 4,000 yards and win 10+ games.
“With each experience and new experience, and each different game and environment he goes into, they’re all learning experiences that are going to make him better in the end,” says Colts general manager RYAN GRIGSON about Luck. “We obviously feel good about Andrew Luck and where he’s going.”
Buffalo feels good about its future with quarterback E.J. MANUEL, who was selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft (No. 16 overall). Manuel enters the preseason battling for the starting role and hopes to replicate the success that many rookie quarterbacks had last season.
“EJ has that ‘it’ factor,” says Bills general manager DOUG WHALEY. “When he walks into a room, there’s a presence and people take notice. He’s going to be the face of our franchise, and it’s not too big for him.”