After a long layoff, football fans got their first hit with the Hall of Fame Game last Thursday. Now we’ll get a full slate of games, including a first look at key rookies and offseason changes. From veterans battling for position in new places to youngsters getting their first taste of NFL action, there are plenty of interesting storylines to watch out for this week. Here are the games we’re most looking forward to.
Cleveland Browns @ New York Giants
NFL Odds: Giants -3
The Browns hit the reset button at the NFL Draft once again with the selection of quarterback Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick. We should get our first look at Mayfield in a Cleveland uniform on Thursday night when the Browns visit New York, along with fellow rookies running back Nick Chubb and cornerback Denzel Ward. Projected starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor could see some snaps, but it will be the young stars in the spotlight for Cleveland on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Pat Shurmar era is underway but the Giants are set to rely mostly on veteran players. Shurmur has a 3-5 record in the preseason, so we’ll have to see how much effort his team puts forward.
Indianapolis Colts @ Seattle Seahawks
NFL Odds: Seahawks -3
Indianapolis will welcome back its franchise quarterback this Thursday with Andrew Luck set to get his first NFL action in 19 months. Luck, who missed the entire 2017 season after shoulder surgery, admitted he is nervous and excited about getting back on the football field this week. The Colts aren’t very deep and Luck will likely only see a series or two. Pete Carroll’s Seahawks are 22-10 in preseason action under him, including 7-1 in their last eight.
Houston Texans @ Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5)
NFL Odds: Chiefs -2.5
The Patrick Mahomes era is underway in Kansas City. Early reports are that he’s thrown a ton of interceptions in training camp. Now we’ll see him in some live action. He will join Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson as two exciting young talents to watch this season with both Kansas City and Houston expected to contend for playoff spots. There has been no word about how much those young passers will play on Thursday night but both should see some snaps.
Atlanta Falcons @ New York Jets (-1.5)
NFL Odds: Jets -1.5
Recent reports surfaced that rookie first round pick Sam Darnold is expected to get a legitimate shot at starting for the Jets in Week 1 of the regular season. His audition will begin this Friday night as he competes with Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater. Darnold will be the focus leading up to the game but football fans will be interested to see what Bridgewater brings to the table as well after missing all of last season due to injury. Keep in mind that the Falcons went 0-4 in the preseason last year, so they might not push too hard here with a team full of veterans.
Detroit Lions @ Oakland Raiders
NFL Odds: Raiders -3
The Lions and Raiders will conclude a series of joint practices with a preseason game on Saturday night. There will be plenty of new faces on the field and on the sideline where Jon Gruden and Matt Patricia will be in the spotlight after taking over as head coaches in Oakland and Detroit, respectively. Gruden received a 10-year, $100 million contract in the offseason and has shaped the roster to his liking. On Thursday, we’ll get our first look at what he’s put together.