Analysis  

 

Andrew Luck vs. Robert Griffin III: Rookie bout headlines Week 3

Week 3 of the preseason kicked off Thursday night, and there were several impressive performances. Rookie receivers Justin Blackmon of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kendall Wright of the Tennessee Titans made numerous plays and showed exciting potential. Several other rookies will be under the microscope over the weekend, including a pair of somewhat notable quarterbacks ...

Here is a quick guide to this weekend's preseason games:

Brooks: On the cut line
Bucky Brooks identifies notable veterans playing for their jobs in Week 3, including four former first-round selections. More ...

SATURDAY

Indianapolis Colts at Washington Redskins

Robert Griffin III edged out Andrew Luck for the 2011 Heisman Trophy. Luck was selected one spot ahead of RG3 in April's NFL draft. Maybe this game can serve as some kind of tiebreaker. Both rookie quarterbacks should get a lot of work during this contest. The Colts' offensive line played much better than I anticipated against the Steelers last week, but the unit will be challenged again Saturday by Washington's aggressive defensive coordinator, Jim Haslett.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills

The Bills' offense has struggled during the preseason, and there is pressure on the unit to get into some sort of rhythm before games count. Last week, Pittsburgh's defense forced a couple early turnovers against the Colts, but the Steelers let their foot off the pedal and allowed Andrew Luck to move the ball up and down the field. They look to be more consistent in this contest. The Bills' pass rush came to life last week; can Buffalo keep it going against a Steelers offensive line that welcomes back left tackle Max Starks?

Detroit Lions at Oakland Raiders

Detroit found its offensive groove last week in Baltimore. While quarterback Matthew Stafford and all-world receiver Calvin Johnson receive all the attention, the Lions' offensive line has been outstanding in the preseason. That group faces a very stiff test this week against the powerful front of the Raiders. Oakland's offense has yet to score a first-half touchdown in the preseason. Running back Darren McFadden looks solid, but Carson Palmer hasn't looked comfortable in this new offensive system.

St. Louis Rams at Dallas Cowboys

Despite several injuries, Rob Ryan's Dallas defense hasn't allowed a single first-half touchdown during the preseason. On Saturday, the Cowboys encounter a very confident Rams quarterback in Sam Bradford. He has quickly grasped the new offense in St. Louis and is throwing the ball very well during the preseason. Keep an eye on Rams rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins. He continues to be the talk of their training camp.

Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints

So far this preseason, the Texans have handled two very good teams in the Panthers and the 49ers. They get another big test this week against Drew Brees and the Saints. Houston created a lot of pressure on Alex Smith last week, but this week's challenge is a whole different animal. Brees is probably the quickest decision maker in the NFL. The Saints' defense has been very inconsistent during the preseason. How will the unit handle an explosive Texans offense?

SUNDAY

San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos

If Peyton Manning plays a full half against San Francisco's defense, he will get an opportunity to really test his surgically repaired neck. This 49ers defense is very fast and physical at all three levels. However, some reports suggest that Manning's time could be limited. The 49ers' offense struggled last week and has still has trouble producing explosive plays in the passing game. Denver's starting defense has been outstanding; the Broncos have yet to give up a touchdown in the first half this preseason.

Instant Debate: Youth movement
The first five quarterbacks taken in the 2011 draft will start in Week 1. Who will win the most games? Let's debate! More ...

Carolina Panthers at New York Jets

These two offenses appear headed in opposite directions. For the Panthers, Cam Newton looks even better than he did last season, and the rushing attack features three studs in DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert. Meanwhile, the Jets have been very poor up front on the offensive line, and their quarterback play has been spotty at best. Both of these defenses are counting on some young defensive linemen to emerge before the start of the regular season.

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

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