Its week three of the NFL preseason, folks! These are only the most important games of the entire preseason. Fans and prognosticators point to the first halves of week three as the first indicator of a team’s cohesiveness and potential success for the upcoming season. Given all of the pressure mounting on players and coaches for the first time, something should be written about them.
The fact is, maybe the contests have some meaning for at least an entire half, even though they don’t really count for anything, BUT they aren’t usually a predictor of regular season success (unless your team plays really well of course, then you will can gloat for two weeks before being let down).
Lets take a look at last season’s preseason game 3s.
The Ravens were blanked by the Redskins for the first 20 minutes, and finally scored a TD on a 2-minute drill with seconds remaining in the first half. By the end of the season, the Ravens won a playoff game, and the Redskins gave up 438 points, tied for 30th in the NFL.
The Bengals were ahead of a strong Arizona Cardinals team when it mattered, 13-6. While Cincinnati did make the playoffs, Arizona took the NFC by storm and was the #1 seed for 3/4 of a season until they lost their quarterback and faded down the stretch.
The Browns were crushed by St. Louis in preseason week 3 but had an amazing first 11 weeks of the 2014 season before fading down the stretch. Meanwhile the Rams started the season 1-4 and finished at 6-10.
The Steelers were embarrassed by their intrastate rivals from Philadelphia, who were up 24-0 with just over 4 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter. The Steelers ended up winning the AFC North, and the Eagles missed the playoffs (although barely).
Although this is a small sample size, game three might not be the preseason be-all and end-all that its hyped to be. That said, this week’s match-ups are worth watching regardless of game meaning. Here they are:
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Buffalo Bills
August 29th, 2015 4:00pm
The Steelers will need to scramble and give Martavis Bryant’s replacement some reps (as long an appeal doesn’t keep him in the game), as well as Le’Veon Bell’s. It will at least be intriguing to watch from this perspective.
Cleveland Browns @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
August 29th, 2015 7:00pm
This game also has some interesting story lines. The Browns defense will try to stop the multidimensional Jameis Winston as well as 2nd year receiver Mike Evans, while the Browns coaching staff and fans will have their eyes glued to the success or failure of Josh McCown, with Johnny Manziel on the sidelines nursing an elbow.
Chicago Bears @ Cincinnati Bengals
August 29th, 2015 7:30pm
Most positions are set for the Bengals, so the offense and defense will pretty much be going through the motions, as long as those “motions” don’t lead to a similar game as last week’s. A solid showing will help the confidence of the team and fans, especially after last week’s stinker.
Washington Redskins @ Baltimore Ravens
August 29th, 2015 7:30pm
Like Cincinnati, Baltimore put forth a horrible effort during the last preseason game. Ravens fans will look for a bounce-back against the hapless Redskins. If not, they will enjoy anger and anxiety stewing for two weeks before the season opener… in Denver.