Ten preseason games take place Saturday, with most teams playing their starters until halftime. It's the biggest August day in the NFL, and the last time we'll see most quality players until the real stuff starts in two weeks. Yes, just two weeks.
Here are the key storylines we'll be watching Saturday night:
Geno vs. expectations
New York Jets rookie Geno Smith's up-and-down month is on the incline once again after a nice week of practice. He'll start against the New York Giants. A great performance should win him the starting QB job over Mark Sanchez. A disaster should hand it to the veteran. Something in between could make every beat writer go crazy by extending the competition yet another week.
Kolb makes his case
Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel is out with a knee injury for the next two weeks, giving Kevin Kolb an outside chance at earning the Buffalo Bills' Week 1 starting job by default. Coach Doug Marrone will look for improvement after a rough outing from Kolb last week. (Kolb faces the Washington Redskins, who will make NFL.com's Jeff Darlington very happy by providing a healthy dose of Rex Grossman.)
Weeden bandwagon threatens to overflow
Two nice preseason outings were enough to get everyone in Cleveland excited about Brandon Weeden. Three consecutive good games would take things to another level. We don't begrudge Browns fans their excitement. Weeden was better last season than people believe, and he's now in an offense that suits his vertical-game strengths. Another big game (the Browns play the Colts) might tip the balance enough to the point where people are picking Cleveland as a sleeper playoff team. (We already can think of one such foolish writer.)
The Tempo Bowl in Jacksonville
Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew revealed this week that coach Gus Bradley wants to run roughly 85 plays per game. That would put them among the league leaders. They face a Chip Kelly-led Philadelphia Eagles squad that should play even faster. Every Eagles game, even in the preseason, is becoming a must-watch affair. Also keep an eye on how Jones-Drew looks in his most extensive action since foot surgery.
Lamar Miller tries
The Miami Dolphins running back was the subject of countless fantasy football profiles, but he's having a hard time winning the starting job over Daniel Thomas. The game against the Buccaneers is Miller's last chance to impress before Week 1. In Tampa Bay, quarterback Josh Freeman barely has played in the preseason.
Denver Broncos try
to find their footing
Peyton Manning still is looking for a starting running back between Ronnie Hillman, Knowshon Moreno and rookie Montee Ball. Moreno might wind up with a bigger role than expected. The defense, currently struggling with injuries, will look for the right combination of starters against the Rams, with opening night less than two weeks away.