Tebow leads Fantasyland All Stars

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Week 1 of the preseason went in the books with a Tim Tebow touchdown run as the final score. That’s fitting since the exhibition season often feels like Fantasyland. There’s always something teasing the imagination.

The Vikings are 2-0 and clearly a lock for the Super Bowl since Adrian Peterson sat both games out and Harrison Smith barely played. Chiefs quarterback Chase Daniel is about to set the league on fire.

A lot of people out there got more ammo for their annual argument, disproven to this point, that Kirk Cousins would be a better quarterback for Washington than Robert Griffin III. Based on initial returns, the Patriots are going to be opening the season with a Jimmy Garoppolo-led home loss to Pittsburgh if Tom Brady fails to pull off a full pardon on his suspension via appeal.

It’s a Small World here. Look, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride over there.

The latter could definitely be utilized as an accurate description of Jameis Winston’s and Marcus Mariota’s debuts, or my fun run going 17-2-1 against the spread.

Pro Football – Thursday, Aug. 20

Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins: The Griffin-Cousins debate surges on in D.C. Since the next home game will be in the final week of the preseason, this will be the lone opportunity for the fans at FedEx Field to put in their two cents and have it register. RG III was 4-of-8 in the opener and needs to play well against a Lions team that should again compete for a playoff spot if healthy.

Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns: This nationally televised showcase pits Rex Ryan against his former defensive coordinator and confidant Mike Pettine for the first time as head coaches. With QB competitions going on in both cities, it will be interesting to see who stands out. Tyrod Taylor and Johnny Manziel are running second, but hoping to stand out by making plays with their legs that projected starters Matt Cassel and Josh McCown can’t.

Pro Football – Friday, Aug. 21

Atlanta Falcons at New York Jets: The Jets QB gig is Ryan Fitzpatrick’s now, so don’t expect them to risk losing him given the lack of experience behind him. Bryce Petty threw for just 50 yards on 18 pass attempts against Detroit and will take the bulk of the snaps here too. The early battles between Falcons receivers and Jets corners might be the only reason to watch.

Seattle Seahawks at Kansas City Chiefs: Former K-State star Tyler Lockett takes his show to Arrowhead after an electric home debut where he racked up over 200 yards in returns. We’ll also see if Chase Daniel can exploit a depleted Seahawks secondary after going 17-for-21 with three touchdown passes at Arizona.

Pro Football – Saturday, Aug. 22

Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers: The Panthers are looking for their offensive line to gel throughout this month, so getting subjected to Ndamakong Suh this early is likely a blessing. Cam Newton led a scoring drive but struggled with his accuracy, while Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill was clutch in leading a scoring drive in his lone series against Chicago. Both will get more work here.

Baltimore at Philadelphia: Two of the three teams to score 30 or more in their preseason opener will square off here. All eyes will be on Sam Bradford, expected to make his debut after missing all of last season after re-tearing his ACL last August. Considering how shaky Mark Sanchez looked, the Eagle faithful on hand will be crossing their fingers that he’ll look healthy and ease their concerns.

Chicago at Indianapolis: The Bears won their preseason opener 27-10 on the strength of their backups because the Jay Cutler-offense and rebuilt defense were actually disappointing. Their first units will see more action against the Colts, who are likely to dust off Andrew Luck for more than the few snaps he took on Sunday.

New England at New Orleans: Since Tom Brady unexpectedly played last week, you know he’ll be a part of the equation here. Still, getting Garropolo more comfortable should be the main concern in this second preseason test. Drew Brees makes his debut as he moves on from departed favorite target Jimmy Graham.

Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants: The Eli Manning-led first unit managed one first down and 38 yards in four series against the Bengals, so boos may be heard insanely early if the listless play continues against the Jaguars. TE Julius Thomas broke his right hand on Friday, so Jacksonville’s newest weapon will miss the rest of the preseason.

Denver Broncos at Houston Texans: Peyton Manning will need to avoid a meeting with J.J. Watt for a drive or two, debuting after sitting out last week’s win in Seattle. The Texans have Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer continuing their QB battle after both had solid showings against the 49ers on Saturday.

Oakland Raiders at Minnesota Vikings: No, Peterson won’t play, but a terrific-looking defense can take another step forward as head coach Mike Zimmer looks to improve his preseason record to 7-0. The Raiders gave up three points themselves in stifling St. Louis 18-3 last Friday, so facing a quality opponent on the road could be a real confidence builder for an improving young team.

San Diego Chargers at Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals welcomed back Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton, showed them love and made sure they stayed upright in brief cameos on Saturday. Expect more of the same against the Chargers, who didn’t even crack 75 passing yards against Dallas last week.

Pro Football – Sunday, Aug. 23

Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers: How much of two of the NFL’s most prolific offenses will we get to see here? Rodgers actually threw the ball 19 times against New England, so we might get a fun opening half if both coaches are feeling frisky and willing to trust their offensive lines to keep their franchise quarterbacks upright.

Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers: Cowboys running back Gus Johnson separated his shoulder to bow out in the race to replace DeMarco Murray, but banged-up top candidates Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar may all suit up and get some action. The 49ers got 120 total yards out of Aussie rugby player Jarryd Hayne in the preseason opener, so he won’t be sneaking up on anybody.

St. Louis Rams at Tennessee Titans: The Rams got nothing going with their backups in Oakland, failing to score after starter Nick Foles left the game. Foles should get a longer look here, as will Mariota, who threw his first interception in his opening quarter against live action after going through camp unblemished.

Pro Football – Monday, Aug. 24

Cincinnati Bengals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The season’s unofficial first Monday night game has some appeal. Winston attempts to bounces back from a rocky debut to the Andy Dalton-led offense looking to go 2-for-2 on dominating opening drives. A.J. Green caught a pass, Jeremy Hill broke off a few strong runs and an offense that has the personnel to be imposing looked mighty impressive against the Giants.

Tony Mejia is a national sports writer and senior contributor at VegasInsider.com. He’s also the owner and operator of Antony Dinero, the most successful documented volume handicapper in the industry. View his analysis daily at VegasInsider.com. Email: [email protected].

About the Author
Tony Mejia

Tony Mejia

Tony Mejia has been a national writer for nearly two decades and has covered NBA and college basketball as a columnist, analyst, handicapper, and bracketologist for CBS Sports, Pro Basketball News, and numerous other sites.

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