With exactly a week to go until the 2015 NFL regular season opener, all 32 teams are in action on Thursday. As the entire league plays their final preseason games, four teams will be featured on national television.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will visit the Miami Dolphins in one of the first games of the night. The San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49ers are set to face off three hours later at Levi’s Stadium.
Most of the players who are expected to be starters won’t play much, if at all, on Thursday. But the contests will help the coaches narrow down their final rosters. Each team was cut down to 75 players on Tuesday, and that number must be trimmed down to 53 on Saturday.
Buccaneers vs. Dolphins
Both teams are 1-2 in their exhibition games, though Miami has been more impressive. The Dolphins won last week’s contest, which saw their starters get the majority of the playing time. But the Bucs lost by 24 points to the Cleveland Browns in the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season.
Tampa Bay still has questions to answer regarding who will start at multiple positions. They have especially struggled on special teams, and they recently traded for rookie kicker Kyle Brindza, making it a three-man competition for the job. The Bucs also don’t know who their No.1 return man will be next week.
Chargers vs. 49ers
The Chargers have gone 2-1 in the preseason with their only loss coming by one point to the Seattle Seahawks last week. The 49ers have one victory, most recently losing by a touchdown to the Denver Broncos.
San Diego took running back Melvin Gordon with their first pick in the draft, but the former Wisconsin standout hasn't been very impressive this preseason. Even if he does get some carries on Thursday and plays well, the Chargers will have a “committee crew” at the position to start the year. San Francisco also has a few running backs vying for carries, and it should be interesting to see who gets playing time on Thursday.
Where to Watch
Both games are set to air on NFL Network. Tampa Bay and Miami will start at 7 p.m. ET, while San Diego and San Francisco is one of two games on the schedule with a 10 p.m. ET start time. In addition to watching the games on TV, the contest can be seen with a live stream online at nflnonline.nfl.com.