Week 1 of the NFL preseason kicks off with several games on Thursday night, but if you can’t wait that long for your football fix, tune into HBO this Tuesday night at 10 p.m. ET/PT for the 2019 debut of “Hard Knocks.” That Emmy-award winning show featured Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders this season. The Raiders host the Rams on Sunday so you will have to wait until next week to see that on “Hard Knocks.”
2019 NFL Preseason Week 1 Odds, Overview & Expert Picks
Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins
The Atlanta Falcons will be the first team to play two preseason games this year because they lost 14-10 to Denver in the Hall of Fame Game last Thursday. The Falcons gave up the winning 15-yard touchdown pass with 1:26 to play. Neither Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan nor star receiver Julio Jones played – Ryan probably will here but Jones isn’t going to at all this preseason.
Brian Hill rushed 11 times for 57 yards, adding two catches for -2 yards and one score. He’s battling for the backup running back job with Ito Smith. Smith averaged 2.0 YPC on three carries following an underwhelming rookie year. Backup QB Kurt Benkert left with an injury and won’t play in this one. That probably kills his chances of beating out Matt Schaub for the No. 2 spot. With his injury, the team has signed Chris Simms.
Finally, the first-round pick and projected starting right tackle Kaleb McGary also sat and will not play at all this preseason, either. He’s dealing with a bit of a heart issue. McGary is set for to undergo testing a few times over the next month and those results will determine how long he’ll be out. The last time McGary had this minimally-invasive procedure he missed 6-8 weeks.
This will be the head coaching debut of Miami Dolphins Brian Flores, the former Patriots linebackers coach. He already has fired his offensive line coach. All eyes will be on the quarterback battle between veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and second-year Josh Rosen.
Fitzpatrick was in the lead, according to reports, but Rosen shined during Saturday’s intra-squad scrimmage while Fitzpatrick fared poorly, committing two interceptions while nearly throwing a third on an errant pass he forced into double coverage. Flores said Josh Rosen has “made improvements across the board.” Not clear who starts here but Rosen surely will play more simply as he’s younger and needs the reps.
Los Angeles Chargers at Arizona Cardinals
This will be the NFL debut of Arizona Cardinals rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft and 2018 Heisman winner from Oklahoma. All reports out of camp are that Murray has been spectacular. Murray will start here but not clear yet how long he will play.
“I think the goal is for us to get [Murray] out of the game with him feeling good about what went on out there,” new head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “And so whatever that takes, if it’s three plays, it’ll be three plays. If it’s 10-12 plays, it’ll be 12. I think we’ll just figure that out as the game’s going and how he feels and go from there. The main objective is to get good work, have him feel comfortable and feel good about the result.”
Cardinals WR Andy Isabella is dealing with a “minor knee issue,” Kingsbury said. He expects Isabella back “sooner than later.” Kingsbury is “hopeful” Isabella will be back for this preseason game but added the Cards won’t “press it.”
The LA Chargers won’t have star running back Melvin Gordon as he continues to hold out for a new contract – he could well hold out into the regular season. Gordon’s agent has demanded a trade but that doesn’t seem to interest the Chargers yet. Chargers general manager Tom Telesco did not give Gordon’s camp permission to seek a trade partner. Gordon reportedly has been offered something in the range of $10 million a year from the Chargers — essentially they’ve been willing to buy out his 2019 fifth-year option salary and a pair of tag years at a reduced cost.
However, Gordon’s agent rejected that offer. The two-time Pro Bowler is currently set to earn $5.6 million in 2019 under his current deal but will become an unrestricted free agent in 2020. The Bolts could slap the franchise tag on him this offseason, though.
Austin Ekeler would be the primary back if Gordon continues to hold out. Ekeler was No. 5 in yards per carry among qualified runners last season and registered Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 elusive rating at the position among 56 qualifiers.
Expert NFL Preseason Week 1 Betting Picks
Back both home teams – all things equal, bet the home teams in the preseason.
Rest of the 2019 NFL Preseason Week 1 Schedule
- New York Jets vs New York Giants
- Indianapolis Colts vs Buffalo Bills
- Jacksonville Jaguars vs Baltimore Ravens
- Tennessee Titans vs Philadelphia Eagles
- New England Patriots vs Detroit Lions
- Washington Redskins vs Cleveland Browns
- Houston Texans vs Green Bay Packers
- Carolina Panthers vs Chicago Bears
- Denver Broncos vs Seattle Seahawks
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Pittsburgh Steelers
- Minnesota Vikings vs New Orleans Saints
- Los Angeles Rams vs Oakland Raiders
- Cincinnati Bengals vs Kansas City Chiefs
- Dallas Cowboys vs San Francisco 49ers