Wednesday, September 28, 2022

NFL Week 1 preseason schedule: Rams-Chargers, Seahawks-Steelers highlight five must-see games

Let’s all try to contain our excitement, but … football season is FINALLY here! OK, I know it is only the preseason, but it is still NFL football and a sign that the regular season is right around the corner.

Preseason is a time to get a decent look at how the teams are shaping up, which rookies look like they could be stars and what the final rosters will be.

With some new quarterbacks on the scene and some teams still ironing out their QB depth chart, this is also a time to get a look at who will be starters when the regular season begins.

Unlike the regular season, you are most likely not going to sit on the couch for 15 hours watching every preseason game you can get (though if you do no judgement here), so you might be wondering which games you should catch. Luckily, CBS Sports has you covered with the five best preseason Week 1 games to watch.

Here is a look at why you should tune in (games listed in order of occurrence; all times ET):

Browns at Jaguars

Friday, Aug. 12, 7 p.m.

TV:
Regional (check local listings); Streaming: FuboTV

The Cleveland Browns have not had a smooth offseason, with their quarterback facing over 20 sexual assault and misconduct allegations. Deshaun Watson is currently looking at a recommended six-game ban, but the NFL is appealing in hopes of a full-season ban.

The team announced that Watson is expected to start in the preseason opener, which will be the first game he has played in almost two years. With Watson’s status for the regular season unknown, the preseason could be the only look we get of Watson’s play for a while.

The Jaguars plan to play their starters enough to “get their feet wet,” head coach Doug Pederson said. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence did not play in the Hall of Fame Game last week, so this is the first preseason look at the 2021 first overall selection. Lawrence and the Jaguars have yet to have any success, so this will be a big year for the 22-year-old.

Travis Etienne is also expected to get some playing time and after the running back’s impressive training camp performance, he is expected to have a standout season.

Packers at 49ers

Friday, Aug. 12, 8:30 p.m.

TV:
NFL Network; Streaming: FuboTV

The Green Bay Packers will not have Aaron Rodgers out there playing, but there is still intrigue as far as quarterbacks are concerned on that side. We all remember the drama of the Packers trading up to get quarterback Jordan Love and how that did not sit too well with No. 12 and this will just be another time Love can prove himself and his worth in the league.

There is no chance he upstages Rodgers in the near future, but seeing what he is capable of is not just valuable in terms of if the Packers ever need to default to their QB2, but also good to see if Love could be a starter elsewhere down the road.

The 49ers’ quarterback situation is a bit more complex. The team still has Jimmy Garoppolo, despite everyone including head coach Kyle Shanahan believing he would be traded. The team will be going with Trey Lance this season as starter and he is a player I am very excited to watch develop as the season goes on. 

I also want to keep a close eye on the offense around Lance, specifically his wideout group, which will be without tight end Jordan Matthews due to an ACL injury.

Panthers at Commanders

Saturday, Aug. 13, 1 p.m.

TV:
Regional (check local listings); Streaming: FuboTV

Let’s first look at the Panthers, who now have quarterback Baker Mayfield after a trade with the Cleveland Browns, in a quarterback competition with Sam Darnold. Mayfield is expected to win the starting role, but the quarterbacks are embracing the battle, with Mayfield saying that it is making them both better at their position.

Head coach Matt Rhule said both quarterbacks will have a chance to play in the preseason opener and this will give a good look at who has the edge and how big the gap is between the two players.

Running back Christian McCaffrey is not expected to play in the preseason, following a career plagued with injuries, so other running backs will have the chance to step up.

The Washington Commanders will play their first game under their new name, and if that isn’t exciting enough, we might also get to see how quarterback Carson Wentz is shaping up on the team.

Wentz has not had the best training camp, but head coach Ron Rivera says he is not concerned with the inaccuracies. Rivera also said Wentz will get a chance to play in the preseason game against the Panthers, and concern may heighten if the inaccuracies continue in a game setting.

Seahawks at Steelers

Saturday, Aug. 13, 7 p.m.

TV: 
NFL Network; Streaming: FuboTV

The Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers are both entering their first season without their longtime quarterbacks. The Seahawks are now without Russell Wilson and instead have Drew Lock and Geno Smith battling for the top spot. Ben Roethlisberger retired leaving the Steelers with Mitchell Trubisky, Mason Rudolph and rookie Kenny Pickett.

It will look different not seeing the veterans that led the offenses for so long out there slinging it on the field, but it is giving the new generation of quarterbacks a chance to shine.

Pickett was the only quarterback picked in the first round of this year’s draft and the team is looking for him to be the QB of the future. I am looking to see how he meshes with the offense and how his play has changed from college until now after having some training camp time to begin to get acclimated to the NFL.

Smith will be the starting quarterback for the Seahawks in Week 1 of the preseason, but that does not mean the starting job is definitely his. While he is the expected starter for the year, Lock has made significant improvement and head coach Pete Carroll is keeping his information close to the vest as far as his thoughts on how the competition is shaping up.

Rams at Chargers

Saturday, Aug. 13, 10 p.m.

TV:
Regional (check local listings); Streaming: FuboTV

The Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers will face off in their shared stadium, with the Chargers listed as the SoFi Stadium home team for this matchup.

Who isn’t curious to see how the defending champions are looking this season? The Rams are coming off the high of their Super Bowl victory over the Cincinnati Bengals and look to be the first team to repeat a championship since the New England Patriots did it in 2003 and ’04.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford will not play due to his elbow pain, leaving John Wolford, Bryce Perkins and Luis Perez behind center. There is also a good chance wide receiver Cooper Kupp and defensive end Aaron Donald will not see playing time, but with such a deep roster the team still has solid players to take over.

The Chargers are a team that has been so close to success since quarterback Justin Herbert took over and this could be the year they see a playoff berth. They are in what is looking to be the toughest division in football, the AFC West, and they will need all the stars they can get with such a challenge this year.

They have been lacking the pieces to be successful and while Herbert has excelled, the team around him struggled leaving them without an extended season. I want to see the depth this team has, because that will be important down the line. How the defense fares against a top-tier team like the Rams will say a lot. 

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