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NFL Preseason Notes

   by Al McMordie - 08/26/2005

It’s the third week of the NFL preseason this weekend. These are generally the most interesting games to watch simply because history tells us that coaches normally use this weekend to evaluate the starters, giving them the most work of the preseason. You might see the most intricate game plans or trick plays, and certainly many teams will play starters the entire first half and into the third quarter. Record setting quarterback Peyton Manning, for example, hasn’t played hardly at all, but Tony Dungy says he will use Manning into the third quarter at Denver on Saturday.

Things change dramatically next week, where starters don’t play much, and in some cases, not at all. This weekend comes as close to a “regular season gameâ€쳌 as you’re going to see in August, so it’s a great time to catch as many games as possible, which can help give you an edge in the opening week of the season. With that said, here are some notes to keep in mind on some of this weekend’s contests.

Chargers at Vikings (Friday): This is a short week for San Diego, after the Chargers dissected the Rams at home Sunday. Not only is it a short week, but it’s a long road trip. Because of those factors, San Diego coach Marty Schottenheimer has said he will only play his starters in the first quarter. This is contrary to what normally happens. So if you see line movement with money coming in on the Vikings, that’s the reason.

Patriots at Packers (Friday): This is an interesting game for several reasons. One, despite the fact that Green Bay usually has a terrific home field edge in Lambeau Field, even in preseason, the Packers are just 3-7 against the spread in their last ten home games (counting this exhibition season). Secondly, Patriots' coach Bill Belichick has admitted he’s treating this game as close to a regular-season contest as possible. He said more specific game plans have been put in to make it more similar to a meaningful game. "Every player that dresses for the game, I've told them to be ready to go for sixty minutes, just like it's a regular-season game," he said. He didn’t specify how long the starters would play, but it’s clear the Pats' regulars will play far more in this game than they have in the first two games.

Giants at Jets (Friday):The sidebar on this local battle is that the teams got into a scuffle in a scrimmage two weeks ago. The Jets hit too hard, names were called, and a vendetta was issued by one player, “See you in a few weeks.â€쳌 Well, that date has arrived. While you’ll hear a lot about it, don’t expect to see any punching or fireworks. Logic dictates that the coaches have already told their players to cool it and you will likely only see a football game, not any Friday night Wrestlemania!

Seahawks at Chiefs (Saturday): We haven’t seen much of the explosive Kansas City offense this preseason. You could see it here, finally. Head coach Dick Vermeil will play the starters into the second half, especially with backup QBs Damon Huard out (concussion) and Todd Collins (hand) out. It’s the perfect game to let Trent Green get a lot of snaps. Might this mean a lot of points in front of the home fans?

Rams at Lions (Monday): So how bad is the Rams defense? It’s been brutal thus far. If they tackle as poorly as they played against San Diego, the Lions may score 100! Just kidding. But Detroit does have a lot of speed at wideout and Steve Mariucci said that the starters will see their most action yet this preseason. If they run it up on the Rams, be sure and check out the St. Louis newspapers on Tuesday -- for angry fans calling for the firing of DC Larry Marmie. Good luck as always...Al McMordie.

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