Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:57 AM

Thursday's Preseason Essentials

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Note: Quarterback rotation subject to change. Lines courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

Giants at Bengals (-3, 42.5) - 7 PM EST

N.Y. Giants
Head Coach: Pat Shumur (8-7 SU, 8-7 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Eli Manning, Daniel Jones (R), Alex Tanney, Kyle Lauletta
Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Jordan Raanan

The Giants are going to let Eli Manning build on a strong performance in last Friday's rout of the Bears by playing him most of the first half with the first-team offense. There's no real controversy. If he's healthy, he'll start Week 1 ahead of rookie Daniel Jones, who will look to keep the pressure on and will likely have the benefit of many of the same receivers Manning will be working with since a thin group has to overcome Golden Tate's four-game ban and won't have him here due to a concussion. The Giants are the highest-scoring team so far this preseason, averaging 31.5 points.

Cincinnati
Head Coach: Zac Taylor (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Andy Dalton, Ryan Finley (R), Jeff Driskel, Jake Dolegala (R)
Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Tyler Dragon

Andy Dalton is striving to get comfortable in Taylor's offense and drove the Bengals down the field against the Chiefs in his first test drive before sputtering last week in leading the A.J. Green-less offense to possessions that ended with a red-zone pick-six, a punt and a missed field goal. Rookie Ryan Finley then came in and played brilliantly, so the second half of this one will be worth watching. Cincinnati's backups outscored Washington's 17-0. Left tackle Cordy Glenn has been dealing with a concussion and likely won't play, but DT Geno Atkins and top pass rusher Carl Lawson are expected to line up for the defense.




Redskins (-2.5, 41.5) at Falcons - 7:30 PM EST

Washington
Head Coach: Jay Gruden (12-10 SU, 11-11 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins (Rookie), Jalan McClendon
Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Kareem Copeland

The 'Skins haven't had Colt McCoy available this preseason and have given first-round pick Dwayne Haskins a long look, but projected starter Case Keenum will get the bulk of the work that matters in this dress rehearsal. Washington has averaged just 11.5 points thus far and has been outscored 30-3 in the second half of games. 34-year-old RB Adrian Peterson has looked sharp and hasn't shied away from preseason reps, but veteran tackle Trent Williams remains a holdout despite being regarded as a vital part of the 2019 offensive line.

Atlanta
Head Coach: Dan Quinn (5-14 SU, 4-15 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Matt Simms
Beat Writer Twitter Follow: D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Falcons carry an 11-game preseason losing streak into this game, last winning on Sept. 1, 2016. With Matt Ryan leading an offense that will also include Devonta Freeman, who looks explosive coming off season-ending groin surgery, this is a great opportunity to end that skid since the 'ones' are expected to play into the second half. Atlanta has been outscored 44-11 in the second half, so they could get a boost from the fact most of their projected final roster will see the bulk of the work. If it's close late, Danny Etling might end up making the difference. He was working as a WR/QB for the Patriots before being cut and is looking to impress enough to earn a practice squad nod.

Panthers at Patriots (-3.5, 42) - 7:30 PM EST

Carolina
Head Coach: Ron Rivera (19-15 SU, 18-15-1 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Cam Newton, Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke, Will Grier (R)
Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Joe Person

Newton will make his debut after offseason shoulder surgery. He's been airing out in practices and will likely put a few deep balls on tape just to show that he can after being deactivated late last season after visibly struggling to push the ball down the field. Ron Rivera wants to see him play three or four series before giving way to backups Kyle Allen and rookie Will Grier, locked in a battle to be the primary backup. Linebacker Luke Kuechly, back Christian McCaffrey and tight end Greg Olson will all debut, so it will be interesting to see whether rust is a factor against a Pats' defense you figure will be disciplined. Rivera is 4-4 in Preseason Week 3.

New England
Head Coach: Bill Belichick (54-44 SU, 48-43-7 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Danny Etling, Jarrett Stidham (Rookie)
Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Jim McBride

Receiver Josh Gordon has been reinstated but is still on the non-football injury list alongside Cam Meredith. Veteran Demariyus Thomas is still on the PUP list, while Julian Edelman has returned to practice after breaking his thumb but probably won't play against the Panthers. Tom Brady has had no problem making the backups shine in practices and will probably get a chance to show off his chemistry with talented rookie N'Keal Harry. Bill Belichick can always wake up and decide he doesn't want to expose his 42-year-old QB needlessly, but Brady has said he wants to play. Belichick is just 9-9 in Week 3 of the preseason.

Ravens (-5, 36) at Eagles - 7:30 PM EST

Baltimore
Head Coach: John Harbaugh (35-12 SU, 32-14-1 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Lamar Jackson, Trace McSorley (R), Joe Callahan
Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Jamison Hensley

Lamar Jackson has seen extensive preseason action and has worked to stay in the pocket so far, looking to improve his accuracy and avoiding taking unnecessary hits before the lights come on. He went 5-for-7 with four TD passes in red-zone against Philly in Tuesday's joint practice, improving after a rough Monday. The Ravens have had to shuffle their offensive line significantly due to injuries, so it remains to be seen whether they'll be able to hold up in the second half. McSorley and Callahan, a former Packer, will likely split the time available behind Jackson. Robert Griffin III is out for the entire preseason with a hairline fracture in his thumb. The Ravens have won 15 consectuive preseason games, last losing on Sept. 3, 2015. They have scored in every quarter this preseason an have won all first and second-half bets. Harbaugh has gone 8-3 in Week 3 and has dropped just one preseason home game since mid-August of '13.

Phildadelphia
Head Coach: Doug Pederson (8-6 SU, 8-6 ATS in season)
Quarterback Rotation: Josh McCown, Clayton Thorson (R)
Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Jeff McLane

The Eagles looked sharp last week but certainly capitalized on the Jaguars' decision to sit Nick Foles, riding the inexperienced Gardner Minshew instead. Their defense will get a much tougher test against the speedy Jackson, who will offer a much different look than anyone Jim Schwartz's defense will see early in the regular season. Pederson has kept Carson Wentz and most of the big names safely on the sidelines and has lost backups Nate Sudfeld and Cody Kessler to injuries, so it's unlikely that he'll deviate from exposing his regulars. Veteran tackle Jason Peters wants to play the first half. The 40-year-old McCown signed last week to be the primary backup and may see his first action, but Thorson should again get the bulk of the snaps. Pederson has won two of his three Week 3 games in the preseason.

Packers (-3, 39) vs. Raiders - 8 PM EST

Green Bay
Head Coach: Matt LeFleur (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Aaron Rodgers, DeShone Kizer, Tim Boyle, Manny Wilkins (R)
Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Tom Silverstein

Rodgers will be a game-time decision but may not play given concerns over the field turf since this game will be played at Winnipeg's Investors Group Field, a CFL stadium. It's hard to see LeFleur taking a risk with Rodgers, who has yet to see the field this preseason but has looked sharp in the more controlled environment of practice. He's been dealing with a back issue too, so be prepared for a long look at Kizer. Aaron Jones should return to the running backs rotation and Jammal Williams is back after nursing an injury, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the Pack work on the run game up in Canada.

Oakland
Head Coach: Jon Gruden (35-17 SU, 20-12-3 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Derek Carr, Mike Glennon, Nathan Peterman
Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Paul Gutierrez

The Raiders who have taken the field for these preseason games have mostly impressed, but Antonio Brown's helmet headache has overshadowed that success. Gruden has refused to call it a distraction, standing by him and his team's body of work thus far as proof that everyone is getting their work done. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther hasn't been shy about putting opposing quarterbacks in compromising positions by blitzing and game-planning more than you typically see in exhibition play, which may be another reason to avoid playing Rodgers. Gruden is 4-4 in Week 3 preseason games.

Jaguars at Dolphins (-3, 37) - 8 PM EST

Jacksonville
Head Coach: Doug Marrone (8-11 SU, 7-10-2 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Nick Foles, Gardner Minshew, Tanner Lee, Alex McGough
Beat Writer Twitter Follow: John Reid

After sitting out 31 players in the preseason opener and 27 last week, Marrone will allow his projected regulars to take the field in South Florida. Foles will be out there for the first time and looks to lead Jacksonville to its first first-quarter points. Minshew, who has seen the bulk of the work, will again be relied upon most, likely taking over sometime in the second quarter. The defense is expected to be on a pitch count, with coordinator Todd Wash more concerned seeing his personnel accomplish things he'll want to see from them come regular-season than game-planning for the Dolphins specifically. Marrone has won only one of his four Week 3 preseason games and has seen 12 of his 19 games go 'under.' McGough, who will likely play the final quarter, played in Miami at FIU.

Miami
Head Coach: Brian Flores (1-1 SU, 2-0 ATS in preseason)
Quarterback Rotation: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen, Jake Rudock
Beat Writer Twitter Follow: Joe Schad

Fitzpatrick continues to lead Rosen and is expected to take the first regular-season snaps for Miami, but the job hasn't been won just yet. That makes this contest essential to both hopefuls Kenyan Drake is dealing with an injured right foot that may affect his status for Week 1, so the Dolphins will lean on Kalen Ballage and Mark Walton to anchor the ground game. Walton is dealing with a legal matter that may lead to an early suspension, so Ballage could be in line for heavy work early. Early standout Preston Williams will be looking to rebound after a rough night against the Bucs, so expect to see the ball in the air so long as the weather permits. Thunderstorms are always a possibility in the early evening, so check the forecast.

Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA

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