In the first two weeks of exhibitions rookies and players hoping to make the final 53-man roster saw the field most of the time, but now fans get their first real look at how or even if their team has improved before the start of the regular season.
Traditionally dubbed the first “dress rehearsals” of the year, all 32 NFL teams are expected to play most of their healthy starters heading into Week 3 of the preseason.
There are several intriguing matchups beginning Friday, and unlike Week 2, five games will be national televised. The New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers start the week off at Bank of American Stadium on Friday, with Carolina one of eight teams owning a perfect record thus far.
Saturday’s 11 game slate begins with the Pittsburgh Steelers hitting the road to meet the Buffalo Bills. The Steelers are less than a week removed from starting center Maurkice Pouncey’s devastating broken ankle suffered in Week 2 against San Francisco.
The Dallas Cowboys seek their first victory of the preseason when they host Minnesota Vikings, the only squad to play three games thus far and owners of a 3-0 mark after beating Oakland 20-12.
The New York Giants and New York Jets continue their annual preseason tradition in the battle for MetLife Stadium, with the Jets still working new starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick into the fold. Both sides are 1-1 after two games.
Following receiver Jordy Nelson’s torn ACL, the Green Bay Packers take the field against the Philadelphia Eagles. But Packers head coach Mike McCarthy stressed his squad will march on with more chances for receivers like Davante Adams, Jeff Jannis and rookie Ty Montgomery to make an impact.
"I think all three of those guys understand the opportunity that was in front of them before Sunday's game," McCarthy said to ESPN. "So regardless of what happened to Jordy, you're talking about three men that played a lot of football. Practiced a lot. Played a lot of football as far as getting ready for [the preseason opener at] New England, and they're going to play even more football come Saturday night against Philadelphia. So yeah, I think it's loud and clear the opportunity that's in front of them."
On Sunday, fans get two nationally televised games when the “Hard Knocks” star Houston Texans meet up with the New Orleans Saints, and the Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders wrap up the week with their matchup at O.co Coliseum.
Also eight teams will be seeking their first victory of the preseason: Miami, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Dallas, New Orleans, Arizona, Seattle, and St. Louis.
Below is the full Week 3 schedule, including dates, start times, and TV channels.
Friday, Aug. 28
New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers, 7:30 p.m. ET, WBZ (New England) and PTVN (Carolina)
Detroit Lions at Jacksonville Jaguars, 8p.m. ET, CBS (national),
Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs, 8 p.m. ET, WKRN2 (Tennessee) and KCTV 5 (Kansas City)
Saturday, August. 29
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills, 4 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins, 7 p.m. ET, CW69 (Atlanta) and CBS 4 (Miami)
Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 7 p.m. ET, WEWS (Cleveland) and
Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys, 7 p.m. ET, KMSP (Minnesota) and CBS 11 (Dallas)
New York Jets at New York Giants, 7 p.m. ET, WNBC
Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals, 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX (Chicago) and CBS (Cincinnati)
Washington Redskins at Baltimore Ravens, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC (Washington) and WBAL (Baltimore)
Seattle Seahawks at San Diego Chargers, 8 p.m. ET, CBS (national)
Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers, 8 p.m. ET, NBC 10 (Philadelphia) and NBC (Green Bay)
Indianapolis Colts at St. Louis Rams, 8 p.m. ET, Fox 59 (Indianapolis) and KTVI (St. Louis)
San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos, 8 p.m. ET, KPIX (San Francisco) and KTVD (Denver)
Sunday, Aug. 30
Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints, 4 p.m. ET, FOX (national)
Arizona Cardinals at Oakland Raiders, 8 p.m. ET, NBC (national)