Facebook Pixel

    NFL Scores Today: Highlights, Winners, and Losers From Every Week 1 Preseason Game

    NFL football is officially back! Here are the latest scores, highlights, winners, and losers from every Week 1 preseason game.

    Preseason football may be about as pretty as a Nissan Juke, but it’s still real NFL football, and we’re still sickos that will watch it. Sunday’s slate of games includes just two matchups, with the Super Bowl champions taking the field for the first time! Here are the latest preseason scores, highlights, winners, and losers for each game.

    San Francisco 49ers vs. Las Vegas Raiders: Could Aiden O’Connell Become the Raiders’ QB2?

    FINAL SCORE: Raiders 34, 49ers 7

    Winner | Raiders QB Aidan O’Connell

    While most neutral observers probably tuned into the 49ers-Raiders preseason game to monitor San Francisco’s backup quarterback battle, Aidan O’Connell may have propelled himself into the No. 2 role with Las Vegas.

    O’Connell, the Raiders’ fourth-round pick in April’s draft, played the first three quarters of Sunday’s game as Jimmy Garoppolo and Brian Hoyer sat out. The Purdue product was highly impressive, completing 15 of 18 attempts for 141 yards and one touchdown. Two of his incompletions were drops, including a 35-yarder by rookie WR Tre Tucker.

    O’Connell isn’t the most physically impressive quarterback, but he’s intelligent, composed, and knows where to put the ball. He displayed outstanding accuracy against the 49ers, made quick decisions, and showed excellent pre and post-snap processing.

    O’Connell never seemed to make a typical rookie mistake. In the second quarter, he evaded what looked like a clear sack and quickly threw the ball away rather than try to make something happen. The 49ers were called for defensive holding, which created an automatic first down for the Raiders.

    Whether O’Connell will be able to usurp Hoyer for the QB2 job in Las Vegas is an open question, but the rookie signal-caller certainly opened a lot of eyes on Sunday.

    Loser | 49ers QB Trey Lance

    If you look at the box score, Trey Lance’s final statistics don’t look all that different from O’Connell’s. Lance, competing with Sam Darnold to back up Brock Purdy, completed 10 of 15 passes for 112 yards and one touchdown, good for a 111.0 passer rating.

    But Lance also took four sacks (including on two of San Francisco’s first three plays), made poor decisions, missed throws, double-clutched, and looked hesitant for much of Sunday’s action.

    Even Lance’s touchdown should have been an interception. Lance threw across his body and right to Raiders cornerback Duke Shelley. Luckily for Lance, the ball bounced off Shelley and right into the arms of 49ers tight end Ross Dwelley for a score.

    That throw was a decision that reeked of inexperience, but it wasn’t the only obvious mistake Lance made. He nearly got picked off again in the second quarter when he telegraphed a pass over the middle of the field.

    Lance seemed to settle in near the end of the second half when the 49ers started getting him out of the pocket to attempt easier throws. But he generally looked disjointed, which isn’t a total surprise given that he’s made four career NFL starts and hasn’t seen regular starting action since North Dakota State’s 2019 campaign.

    Darnold entered the game in the third quarter. While he only attempted eight passes, Darnold looked more collected and fired a beautiful pass to 49ers rookie wideout Ronnie Bell.

    It’s too early to call San Francisco’s QB2 competition, but Lance committed enough self-inflicted errors against the Raiders that Darnold may have taken the edge.

    Winner | Raiders RB Zamir White

    Josh Jacobs’ holdout is still ongoing, and it’s unclear if he’ll report to the Raiders by the time the regular season begins. A first-team All-Pro in 2022, Jacobs led the NFL in yards from scrimmage while scoring 18 touchdowns.

    If Jacobs ultimately decides not to return until later in the year (or at all), Las Vegas will have a hard time replacing his production. But one of the club’s options to take over in the backfield — 2022 fourth-rounder Zamir White — performed well against the 49ers on Sunday.

    The Raiders gave White seven carries on their opening drive, which ended when the Georgia alum plunged into the end zone for his first NFL score. He finished the day with 13 attempts for 43 yards.

    White could probably split time with Ameer Abdullah and fellow 2022 draftee Brittain Brown if Jacobs doesn’t show up, but he could emerge as something close to a bell-cow back if he continues to impress.

    Loser | 49ers OL and DL Depth

    San Francisco didn’t play a single starting offensive or defensive lineman against the Raiders, but the depth pieces they chose to roll out in Week 1 of the preseason didn’t fare all that well.

    Lance was consistently under duress and took multiple sacks, and we noticed backups Nick Zakelj and Jason Poe give up multiple pressures. The 49ers need multiple reserves capable of playing starting snaps in case of an injury, but the only backup lineman they can reliably trust at this point is Jon Feliciano.

    Meanwhile, the Raiders’ offensive line was able to consistently open holes in the running game, while O’Connell was well-protected in the pocket. The 49ers have the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Nick Bosa, but their EDGE depth behind him is lacking.

    Winner | WR Ronnie Bell

    Ronnie Bell isn’t a lock to make the 49ers’ roster after being selected in the seventh round earlier this year, but his chances got a lot better earlier this week when Ray-Ray McCloud suffered a broken wrist. With McCloud likely to miss eight weeks, Bell could slide onto San Francisco’s depth chart as their fifth wide receiver behind Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings, and Danny Gray.

    Bell finished with three receptions for 58 yards. His deep reception from Darnold was the highlight, but he also showed the ability to make catches in traffic and ran hard through defenders. The 49ers may have found a steal on Day 3.

    Loser | 49ers CB Isaiah Oliver

    Isaiah Oliver was the only projected starter the 49ers played on either side of the ball. While we don’t want to sum up a player’s entire performance with one play, it was notable that Oliver allowed Cole’s touchdown reception.

    Oliver is supposed to replace Jimmie Ward, who played the slot for San Francisco last season before signing with the Broncos. Ward is still one of the best nickel corners in the NFL, while Oliver has had an up-and-down career since joining the Falcons in the 2018 draft. The slot could become a weak link for the 49ers if Oliver doesn’t step up next season.

    Kansas City Chiefs vs. New Orleans Saints: Unheralded WRs Richie James, A.T. Perry Step Up

    FINAL SCORE: Saints 26, Chiefs 24

    Winner | Saints WR A.T. Perry

    A.T. Perry probably should have been drafted earlier than the sixth round. The Saints’ rookie wideout posted 1,000+ yards in reach of his two final seasons at Wake Forest, then put up outstanding athletic testing results at the NFL Combine. But some “character stuff” — Perry’s words — caused him to fall to Day 3, where New Orleans scooped him up.

    Perry was a force against the Chiefs on Sunday, dominating targets and finishing with six receptions 70 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown from Jameis Winston.

    Chris Olave and Michael Thomas are locked-in as the Saints’ receivers in two-WR sets, while Rashid Shaheed and Tre’Quan Smith are competing for WR3 duties. Still, with Shaheed and Smith both dealing with injuries, there’s no reason Perry can’t force his way into the mix and start competing for more looks as the season progresses.

    Winner | Chiefs WRs Richie James and Justyn Ross

    The Chiefs let JuJu Smith-Schuster walk in free agency, while Kadarius Toney — projected to replace JJSS as Kansas City’s WR1 — is questionable for the start of the regular season after undergoing knee surgery in July. KC’s wide receiver depth chart is now as wide open as it’s been in some time, and multiple options stepped up on Sunday.

    Richie James, signed to a one-year deal near the league minimum after spending last season with the Giants, could be in line for more work after a standout performance against the Saints.

    James hauled in a 43-yard reception from Blaine Gabbert to put the Chiefs in the red zone.  He was wide open in the end zone on the following play, but a miscommunication with Gabbert led to an incompletion.

    Two plays later, James found the end zone anyway.

    But James wasn’t the only Chiefs wide receiver who put himself on the map on Sunday. Justyn Ross, who missed all of his rookie season with a foot injury, caught two passes for 29 yards and scored the first touchdown of his NFL career.

    Ross, a former Clemson superstar who went undrafted in 2022 due to repeated injury questions, has the talent to succeed in a Patrick Mahomes offense. If he can stay healthy, he should have every opportunity to ascend Kansas City’s WR depth chart.

    Loser | Saints CB Alontae Taylor

    While Alontae Taylor won’t suddenly lose his starting job because of a few poor plays in a meaningless preseason game, the veteran cornerback didn’t post his best performance against the Chiefs.

    Taylor let James get behind him for a 43-yard gain. Then, Taylor and fellow corner Bradley Roby seemed to miscommunicate — no one picked up James’ release from the slot, allowing him to haul in an easy one-yard TD.

    Winner | Saints RB Alvin Kamara

    Most of the Saints’ offense played only one drive, and the club’s coaching staff couldn’t have been more pleased with the results. Derek Carr looked comfortable in and out of the pocket while completing six of eight attempts, left tackle Trevor Penning was throwing defensive linemen around, and New Orleans’ offense seemed incredibly cohesive.

    Alvin Kamara only handled three rush attempts and two receptions, but he looked smooth and explosive on Sunday. A rib injury sidelined Kamara for two games in 2022, but he was back to his normal productive self by the end of the campaign.

    Kamara is suspended for the first three games of the 2023 campaign, but once he returns to the field, he should become one of the Saints’ focal points on offense — even if he cedes work to Jamaal Williams and Kendre Miller.

    Winner | The Return of Michael Thomas and Jimmy Graham

    Injuries have held Thomas to just 10 total games over the past three seasons, but he’s reportedly fully healthy as the 2023 campaign approaches. The last time Thomas was injury-free was in 2019, when he led the NFL with 149 catches for 1,725 yards.

    Thomas only caught one pass for 16 yards on Sunday, but the fact that he was on the field was a positive sign in and of itself. He may never again be the truly dominant receiver he was earlier in his career, but he doesn’t have to be. With Olave on the roster, Thomas can settle as a high-end WR2.

    Thomas’ return to the field was memorable, as was that of Jimmy Graham, who signed with the Saints in July after spending last season out of the NFL. Graham caught a 10-yard pass against the Chiefs and predictably drew a reaction from the crowd.

    Between Jaylon Johnson, Foster Moreau, Taysom Hill, and Jesse James, the Saints already had a crowded tight end room before Graham joined the squad. While it’s unclear if he’ll actually make New Orleans’ 53-man roster, Graham is a fun story to monitor for now.

    Loser | Blake Bell’s Sneak Attempt

    Good on Andy Reid for trying some trickeration in the preseason. On a 4th-and-1 attempt in the first quarter, Chiefs tight end Blake Bell went under center while Mahomes tried to confuse the Saints’ defense with hand signals.

    But Bell was easily stuffed after he took the snap. Kansas City, of course, has used this play before, and Bell had four carries in 2021. But New Orleans was ready for the sneak attempt.

    The Saints weren’t surprised by the play, and other NFL teams probably won’t be, either. Reid will have to find other ways to dress up short-yardage plays.

    Loser | Saints RB Kendre Miller

    We’ll technically call this one an incomplete. Miller, the Saints’ third-round pick in April’s draft, left for the locker room in the second half after being evaluated in the medical tent.

    Fortunately, Miller wasn’t walking with a noticeable limp as he left the field, but he will undergo an MRI after suffering a knee sprain, as Dennis Allen told reporters after the game.

    But if he is sidelined, Miller would miss out on valuable training camp and preseason reps as he vies for a role early in the season. If he’s unavailable or limited, Miller might be taken out of consideration as the Saints decide how they’ll proceed without Kamara from Weeks 1-3.

    Los Angeles Chargers vs. Los Angeles Rams: Derius Davis Proves Return Prowess

    FINAL SCORE: Chargers 34, Rams 17

    Winner | Derius Davis

    Derius Davis returned two punts as a freshman for TCU. One of them was a touchdown. He returned six kicks and punts for TDs during his five-year career at TCU. On his second professional return, he went 81 yards to the house against the Rams.

    Loser | JT Woods

    Second-year safety JT Woods smacked Ben Skowronski upside the head after the Chargers had forced a fourth down in the deep red zone. The unsportsmanlike conduct penalty kept the Rams’ offense on the field, and they would eventually score on a Stetson Bennett TD pass to Puka Nacua.

    Winner | Puka Nacua

    The television broadcast raved about the fifth-round rookie from BYU, and then he went out and provided examples of the hype on the field. He was the go-to man for Bennett, and the big-bodied receiver appears set to be a contender for the fourth spot on the depth chart.

    Winner | Warren McClendon

    Warren McClendon played left tackle for the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday, which was a bit surprising considering he played almost exclusively on the right side for the Georgia Bulldogs.

    And in his first professional outing, he looked very good in a foreign land. He even helped spring Bennett’s touchdown pass by recovering nicely on a speed rush, an area he found struggles with at times in college.

    Winner | Stetson Bennett

    When Stetson Bennett first stepped onto the field, it looked like we were going to be in for a horror show. But after nearly throwing two interceptions in his first fou attempts, the National Championship-winning QB settled in a bit.

    It wasn’t always pretty, but Bennett bounced back and found comfort. And when he came out for the second half he began pushing the ball downfield a bit more.

    Loser | Max Duggan

    The last time Max Duggan saw Bennett, the TCU QB was under attack from the Georgia Bulldogs defensive front. Not much changed between Duggan’s last college game and his first professional game besides the jersey.

    At one point, Duggan had been sacked more times (three) than he had attempted passes (two). He also had more sack yards than passing yards.

    Loser | Rams Run Defense

    The Rams run defense struggled. They allowed huge chunks on the ground to a multitude of backs for the Chargers to the tune of nearly six yards per pop at the beginning of the fourth quarter. And that doesn’t even count the seven-yard Isaiah Spiller TD that was nullified by a holding penalty.

    Philadelphia Eagles vs. Baltimore Ravens: Tyler Huntley Makes Emphatic Statement

    FINAL SCORE: Ravens 20, Eagles 19

    Winner | Tyler Huntley

    The broadcast played up the battle for the Baltimore Ravens’ backup spot, but that doesn’t make a ton of sense. Tyler Huntley’s Pro Bowl bid was farcical, but he is a perfect fit and talent to back up Lamar Jackson.

    And on his first drive operating Todd Monken’s offense in a preseason game, he led the Ravens down the field for an easy touchdown drive. He did it on the final few plays while playing at less than 100% after pulling up lame on a scramble.

    But that didn’t matter, because Huntley looked decisive and accurate. He found the explosiveness that Josh Johnson could not earlier in the game. The Ravens survived against the first unit Philadelphia put on the field, and then John Harbaugh put in the ringer so the Ravens could continue their ridiculous 24-game preseason win streak.

    Winner | Eagles New Bulldogs

    Sure, Jalen Carter was facing a backup right guard on his first snap for the Eagles, but that doesn’t take away the fact that he looked like a grown man against a three-year NFL veteran.

    And that wasn’t all. Nolan Smith may have some on-field maturing to do before he finds his groove, but he will be able to win immediately on obvious passing downs because of his pass-rush repertoire and natural combination of explosion and bend.

    Loser | Jake Elliott

    Missing a 46-yard kick in the preseason isn’t the end of the world, particularly when you’re already established in your position with the team.

    But it has to sting a little bit to look on the other sideline to see Justin Tucker, who casually hit a 60-yarder that looked like it would have been good from 65 plus. It’s even more demeaning to see it go right through the center of the uprights.

    Loser | Ian Book

    Tanner McKee’s box score doesn’t look special, but he played well in his first outing as a pro. Ian Book, who is battling to prove to another team or the Eagles that he can be a practice squad option, did not.

    He looked lost as he hit the apex of his drop on nearly every snap. He’s clearly an impressive athlete who can get outside of the pocket and theoretically create, but it wasn’t there on Saturday. He was playing culdesac football, running around and searching frantically downfield before tucking it for meager gains on the ground.

    Winner | Eli Ricks

    The Eagles rookie CB from Alabama went undrafted amid testing and injury concerns, but his college tape was outstanding. His quick mental trigger showed against the Ravens in his first professional showing, as he returned an interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to give the Eagles a chance to take the lead.

    New York Jets vs. Carolina Panthers: Zach Wilson Avoids Mistakes Where Matt Corral Could Not

    FINAL SCORE: Jets 27, Panthers 0

    Winner | Jets QB Zach Wilson

    Although Zach Wilson and the Jets’ offense were unable to create many explosive plays because of the soft zone defense that was popular for the Panthers in the first preseason game, he avoided mistakes and found his checkdowns more often than not.

    Loser | Jets TE Zach Kuntz

    A well-timed and well-executed hurdle is usually the most exciting play in any given contest. Unfortunately for Jets rookie TE Zach Kuntz, his was neither.

    Midway through the fourth quarter, Kuntz tried hurdling LB Joe Thomas over the middle but was hit from behind as he leaped, causing him to bail on the maneuver halfway through.

    Winner | Panthers CB Donte Jackson

    It was awesome to see Donte Jackson and Jaycee Horn back on the field and healthy. But Jackson gets the recognition here for the fantastic pass breakup he had on a nearly perfect pass from Wilson in the end zone. Jackson read the receiver and got his right hand up just as the ball arrived, timing it perfectly and saving a touchdown.

    Winner | Panthers S Sam Franklin Jr.

    Sam Franklin Jr. had himself a day on defense. The fourth-year player likely already has a roster spot locked down because of his special teams ability, but he was one of the few Panthers defenders against the Jets to make a significant individual difference.

    If Tim Boyle hadn’t been able to get ahold of his shoestring, Franklin would have taken that to the house for the only Panthers points. Aside from the interception, Franklin also acted as a tone-setter defensively.

    Loser | Panthers QB Matt Corral

    Like Malik Willis in Tennessee, Matt Corral was always going to need time at the NFL level. The Ole Miss offense he came from was about as different from an NFL offense as one can get. A Lisfranc injury last season didn’t jumpstart his progress.

    It’s clear the second-year QB has potential. His arm creates easy velocity, and he moves well for the modern league.

    The problem is that everything else looks like Play-Doh as it’s dumped from the container. It needs to be molded completely.

    But his struggles weren’t only on him. Although his internal clock got him in trouble a few times, including the play he fumbled on, the Panthers’ offensive line blocking for him wasn’t exactly the Philadelphia Eagles’ starting unit. He was under siege for most of the game

    Tennessee Titans vs. Chicago Bears: Justin Fields’ Perfect Day Was the Difference

    FINAL SCORE: Bears 23, Titans 17

    Winner | Bears QB Justin Fields

    Justin Fields isn’t a winner for how he played. Sure, a 3 of 3 finish for 129 yards and two touchdowns gets you a perfect passer rating, but it’s a prime example of why box-score stats alone are often hollow.

    Fields did nothing wrong on his three attempts. But he is a winner because it’s abundantly clear that he finally has some help on the offensive side of the ball for the first time in his three NFL seasons.

    DJ Moore may not be a No. 1 if we’re keeping the criteria tight, but he is easily talented enough to be a good top option for a team. His ability after the catch is a nice topping.

    It won’t ever be that easy again. The Titans’ second unit played some pretty uninspiring football against the Bears’ offense. But it was a good day for the Bears’ offensive hype train that’s gotten more bets placed on Fields to win MVP than any other player.

    Loser | Titans TE Josh Whyle

    Titans TE Josh Whyle had a rough day at the office. He was partially responsible for the Malik Willis interception, and he fumbled after catching a short pass over the middle from Will Levis.

    Although Willis’ pass was high, Whyle got both hands on it, and it appeared as though he could have finished the catch. In an underwhelming but packed TE room, Whyle can’t make those mistakes.

    Winner | Bears CB Tyrique Stevenson

    Tyrique Stevenson wanted the smoke in his first preseason game. The rookie cornerback finished with seven solo tackles, which led the Bears’ defense by four. He also broke up a pass that could have been intercepted, but that’s why he’s a cornerback and not a wide receiver.

    Winner | Titans QB Malik Willis

    Willis was always going to be a “project” at the NFL level. And while things certainly aren’t completely rosy for him and the Titans, he showed improvements in his process against a Bears defense that played well in their first action.

    He also led two very nice drives downfield, with one coming on the first drive of the game and the second coming in a two-minute drill.

    Indianapolis Colts vs. Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley Almost Perfect While Anthony Richardson Finds Learning Curve

    FINAL SCORE: Bills 23, Colts 19

    Winner | Bills QB Matt Barkley

    It doesn’t get much easier than this. Matt Barkley was nearly perfect against the Indianapolis Colts. He completed 14 of 15 passes for 172 yards and two TDs. And while highly efficient outings are what we should come to expect from veteran backups in the preseason, that doesn’t make it any less fun to watch.

    Loser | Colts QB Anthony Richardson

    There will be growing pains with Anthony Richardson in Year 1. However, the ugly interception on his first drive won’t help any of the negative narratives surrounding the young QB from Florida.

    It was ugly. The RPO meant that he had to get the ball out immediately to avoid an illegal man downfield penalty. In that instance, a QB should throw it at the feet of the receiver running the short out route and live to see another down.

    But it wasn’t all bad for Richardson. His downfield touch was on full display, although Alec Pierce was unable to finish the play through the ground.

    Winner | Bills Safety Damar Hamlin

    It was a miracle that Damar Hamlin lived. To even attempt an NFL comeback seemed like a long shot. But to see him out on the field playing with absolutely no hesitation less than a year after he had to be brought back to life on the field was surreal.

    Denver Broncos vs. Arizona Cardinals: Defensive Lines Dominate in the Desert

    FINAL SCORE: Cardinals 18, Broncos 17

    Winner | Broncos Defensive Line

    The Broncos’ defensive line put constant pressure on whoever was under center for the Cardinals. Arizona’s QBs were flustered from the onset.

    Winner | Cardinals Defensive Line

    I hope you are a fan of defense. The Cardinals’ defensive line continued to gain an advantage over the Broncos’ offensive line. Denver was unable to get anything going on the ground against Arizona’s stout unit.

    Loser | Broncos QB Russell Wilson

    Russell Wilson had an up-and-down performance in this one. Yes, Wilson did throw a TD pass against zero coverage. The problem is there is no way he will make it through a 17-game schedule the way the Broncos were blocking for him up front.

    The Broncos need to fix their offensive line woes, or Wilson will be running for his life all season long.

    Loser | Cardinals QB Clayton Tune

    There was speculation that we may see a lot of Clayton Tune, and we did. Tune struggled throughout and played like a fifth-round rookie, unfortunately. Tune was thought to be a dark horse candidate to become the Cardinals’ starting QB early in the 2023 season, but unless we see improvement, Tune won’t last long.

    Winner | Broncos WR Jerry Jeudy

    There was some good and bad with Jerry Jeudy; what else is new? Jeudy had a horrendous drop that no NFL-caliber WR should make. Jeudy atoned for his mistake by catching a TD pass on the same drive.

    Jeudy is clearly the most talented pass catcher for Denver, but he must develop more consistency if he is to reach his ceiling.

    Winner | Cardinals QB David Blough

    It may have been the last preseason game of the night with few viewers awake to witness it, but Cardinals backup QB David Blough led his team on a 10-play, 75-yard TD drive with under two minutes remaining to ultimately win the game.

    Blough finished the night eight-of-14 for 86 yards and the final score of the night — a strike to Brian Cobbs at the edge of the end zone.

    Winner | Cardinals HC Jonathan Gannon

    While Blough set his team up for a game-tying extra point with two seconds left in regulation, Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon wasn’t satisfied. Instead of kicking the extra point and heading home with a tie, Gannon went for two, which RB Emari Demercado punched in with an extra effort.

    Sure, going for two doesn’t seem like a daring decision in a preseason game when the other option is to kick for a tie, but Gannon still showed his team and Cardinals fans that he wants to win. Even QB Kyler Murray approved.

    Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kenny Pickett, Baker Mayfield Step Up

    The Pittsburgh Steelers played their starters and looked to be in midseason form. The Steelers’ passing game was rolling on all cylinders and got multiple playmakers involved throughout. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ starting QB battle didn’t appear to be much of a battle as one signal-caller took control.

    FINAL SCORE: Steelers 27, Buccaneers 17

    Winner | Steelers QB Kenny Pickett

    Kenny Pickett wasn’t in the game long, but he didn’t need to be. We saw Pickett take a big step forward towards the end of his rookie season last year, and he continued to progress nicely in this one. Pickett completed six of seven passes for 70 yards and a TD. This was exactly what Steeler fans wanted to see from their second-year leader in the opener.

    Winner | Buccaneers QB Baker Mayfield

    The Buccaneers’ QB competition may be over before it began. Baker Mayfield looked to be in complete control in this one as he completed eight of nine passes for 63 yards and a beautiful TD pass in the corner of the end zone.

    Mayfield could win the starting job sooner rather than later.

    Loser | Steelers RB Najee Harris

    On a night where just about everything seemed to go right for the Steelers, I may be nitpicking here a bit. Najee Harris did not even play in this one, so this isn’t necessarily a shot at him, but the Steelers were getting several playmakers involved as runners.

    Jaylen Warren and Calvin Austin III looked quick and elusive with the ball in their hands. Traditionally, the Steelers have been a bell-cow offense, but with how they looked on Friday night, head coach Mike Tomlin could change his tune.

    Loser | Buccaneers QB Kyle Trask

    As sharp as Baker Mayfield looked, Kyle Trask looked a bit lost. Trask held onto the football too long, taking three sacks. Trask also threw an interception, which certainly won’t help his cause.

    I don’t see how the Buccaneers alternate starting QBs, even in the preseason — wouldn’t send the best message to the rest of the team. This is Baker Mayfield’s job.

    Winner | Steelers WR George Pickens

    George Pickens only had one catch, but he made the most of it, turning the reception into a 33-yard TD catch.

    George Pickens is mostly known as a contested-catch artist, but in this one, he showed elusiveness in the open field and looked quicker with the ball in his hands than he did in 2022.

    Pickens could be on his way to a breakout campaign.

    Winner | Buccaneers WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin

    Mike Evans and Chris Godwin sat this one out but are still winners. Many NFL analysts have counted out the Buccaneers’ passing game heading into the 2023 season. My pushback has been that Tom Brady wasn’t exactly great a season ago.

    If Baker Mayfield continues to perform as he did on Friday night, he should be able to elevate the production for the two alpha receivers, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, in 2023.

    Loser | Steelers QB Mitch Trubisky

    It might be over for Mitch Trubisky in the NFL. Kenny Pickett and Mason Rudolph looked clearly better than Trubisky, who is more on par with Tanner Morgan than Pickett or Rudolph.

    It’s possible Trubisky’s NFL career is coming to a close.

    Loser | Buccaneers Defensive Backs

    The Steelers’ passing game TORCHED the Tampa Bay secondary all game long. Calvin Austin III capped off the night by roasting the Buccaneers’ defensive backs by five yards on a go route.

    The Buccaneers have some work to do on the defensive side of the ball.

    New York Giants vs. Detroit Lions: Jahmyr Gibbs Gives Us a Glimpse, Sam LaPorta Falls Flat

    FINAL SCORE: Lions 21, Giants 16

    Winner | Lions RB Jahmyr Gibbs

    Critics who feel that Jahmyr Gibbs is overhyped will point to the rookie’s relative struggle in the running game. Nineteen yards on six carries isn’t anything to write home about. However, I came away encouraged because we saw what Gibbs can do in the receiving game.

    Gibbs only had one catch, but he looked quick as a hiccup as he gained 18 yards on the reception. Gibbs is on pace to become one of the more versatile weapons out of the backfield in the NFL.

    Winner | Giants WR Cole Beasley

    Cole Beasley is finding his feet in New York, but you wouldn’t know it. The slot machine led the Giants in targets on Friday night. Beasley used his quickness to get open, which was a common occurrence during his Buffalo career.

    It would not shock me to see Beasley as a larger part of the Giants’ offense than we originally thought.

    Loser | Lions TE Sam LaPorta

    Sam LaPorta has been the most hyped-up player on the Lions roster this offseason. LaPorta was not a factor in this one, going without a catch and only garnering one target in his preseason debut.

    There will be better days for the rookie TE, but perhaps tonight was a reminder to temper our expectations for rookie tight ends.

    Loser | Giants Leverage in Negotiations With Saquon

    The Giants couldn’t get anything going on the ground without Saquon Barkley. I know that Barkley signed a contract with New York, but his future in the Big Apple remains year-to-year.

    The Giants were reminded of what the running game looks like when Barkley is absent, and it certainly wasn’t pretty.

    Winner | Lions WR Jameson Williams

    The bad news: Jameson Williams had a huge drop on what would have been a big play for the Lions. He only caught two passes for 18 yards.

    Some may look at this as a rough night for the second-year receiver, but I see positive signs here. Williams was the most targeted receiver with seven.

    The Lions seem fully committed to him, and he offers that game-breaking ability. It certainly appears that Williams is a big part of the Lions’ offense moving forward.

    Winner | Giants QB Daniel Jones

    Tyrod Taylor and Tommy DeVito didn’t offer up much on Friday night. The Giants’ offense as a whole struggled to get much going, settling for three field goals and finding the end zone just once.

    Atlanta Falcons vs. Miami Dolphins

    See who PFN Miami Dolphins Reporter Adam Beasley deemed as the winners and losers from Falcons vs. Dolphins here!

    Washington Commanders vs. Cleveland Browns: Sam Howell Strengthens Lead, Elijah Moore Looks Electric

    FINAL SCORE: Commanders 17, Browns 15

    Winner | Commanders QB Sam Howell

    In one of the few QB competitions around the NFL, Sam Howell may have gained a stronger grip on QB1. Howell was the leader in the clubhouse entering Friday night, and he did nothing to dissuade that notion.

    Howell looked poised, completing nine of 12 passes for 77 yards and a TD. He would have to fall on his face the rest of the way to lose the starting gig.

    Winner | Browns WR Elijah Moore

    The Browns seem set on moving Elijah Moore around the offensive formation and getting the ball into his hands, a far cry from how he was used with the New York Jets.

    The Browns lined Moore up in the backfield, an interesting twist that no one saw coming. He did leave this contest with an injury, but early reports suggest that the X-rays on his ribs were negative.

    Loser | Commanders QB Jacoby Brissett

    To be clear, Jacoby Brissett didn’t perform poorly on Friday night. Brissett went six-of-10 passes for 75 yards and found the end zone as a runner. Although, the veteran QB did commit a costly turnover as he threw an interception.

    Brissett will have to clearly outperform Howell to win the starting job, and Friday night gave us no indication this will be the case.

    Loser | Browns WR Cedric Tillman

    With Amari Cooper sitting out, there was an opportunity for rookie receiver Cedric Tillman to show out. He caught only two passes for seven yards — an inauspicious outing for the rookie.

    If Tillman wants to carve out a role in the Browns’ offense, he will need to string together stronger performances than this.

    Winner | Commanders WR Jahan Dotson

    Jahan Dotson looked sensational early in his rookie season in 2022 before injuries hampered the remainder of the year. But in this one, he looked like the player we saw in the early portion of 2022.

    The explosiveness is clearly back as Dotson hauled in two receptions for 30 yards and a score. He will push veteran Terry McLaurin for the top receiver spot on the Commanders in 2023.

    Winner | Browns QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson

    Dorian Thompson-Robinson looked fantastic during his second preseason contest. DTR had complete control of the offense, completing nine of 10 passes for 102 yards and a TD pass.

    If Thompson-Robinson continues to play with poise, he has a shot at the backup role to Deshaun Watson.

    Green Bay Packers vs. Cincinnati Bengals

    See who PFN Cincinnati Bengals Reporter Jay Morrison chose as the winners and losers from Packers vs. Bengals here!

    Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots: Tank Dell, Keion White Steal the Show While C.J. Stroud Struggles

    While neither the Texans nor the Patriots played many of their starters, we could still gain some intel on how both teams view their current depth charts. Multiple players made an impact on Thursday night, including one Day 2 rookie from each club.

    FINAL SCORE: Texans 20, Patriots 9

    Winner | Texans WR Tank Dell

    Tank Dell led the NCAA in receiving yards and touchdowns last season and totaled 228 catches over three seasons at the University of Houston before the Texans selected him in the third round of April’s draft. So maybe it shouldn’t have been all that surprising that Dell was ready to contribute in his first NFL action.

    Dell proved electric from the slot, where he was free to manipulate defenders without worrying about press coverage. His short-area burst was consistently on display as he gained yards after the catch on multiple slant routes. But Dell’s best moment was a Jermaine Kearse-esque catch that required intense concentration as he held on after a bobble to score a touchdown.

    Dell, who finished with a 5-65-1 line, showed playmaking ability that will be sorely needed among Houston’s receiving corps. The Texans don’t have a clear No. 1 receiver — while Dell will need to compete with Nico Collins, Robert Woods, John Metchie, and others for snaps, his performance in Houston’s first preseason game should be eye-opening for the club’s coaching staff.

    Winner | Patriots EDGE Keion White

    If any player was on Dell’s level during Thursday night’s game, it was Keion White, the Patriots’ second-round pick who dominated Houston’s offensive line in Week 1. While White didn’t register a sack, he caused persistent pressure, played with high energy, and routinely destroyed the blockers in front of him.

    New England already has a solid tandem of pass-rushing specialists in Matthew Judon and Josh Uche, but they’ll have to find a way to get White on the field early and often. He showed the versatility to line up from various alignments against the Texans and consistently won his one-on-one matchups, regardless of who was trying to stop him.

    Loser | Texans QB C.J. Stroud

    Take this with a massive grain of salt. C.J. Stroud played two series, which amounted to 12 offensive snaps. He threw four total passes.

    Sure, Stroud’s second NFL pass was intercepted by Patriots defensive back Jalen Mills, whom Stroud clearly didn’t see was roaming in quarters coverage.

    But Stroud was playing behind a Texans offensive line without multiple starters — and it showed. Stroud, who was rarely under pressure at Ohio State, faced constant duress against the Patriots.

    He took a sack and held onto the ball for too long at times, but he also showed an ability to navigate the pocket and use his mobility.

    It’s nearly impossible to judge Stroud based on his Thursday night effort.

    For now, it’s a positive sign that Houston opted to start the rookie in their first preseason game, a clear indication that Stroud is on track to start in Week 1.

    After the game, Stroud suggested that he wanted to play longer than he did.

    “It’s tough,” Stroud said. “I mean, the competitor in me was like, ‘Coach, let me go back out there. Let me fix my wrongdoings.’ But like you said, it is just preseason. It’s a learning opportunity for myself and really this whole football team, and it was good to kind of see the second group in there.”

    Winner | Patriots DB Jalen Mills

    Jalen Mills has appeared in 89 NFL games, made 75 starts, and played nearly 5,000 defensive snaps in his seven-year pro career. But you wouldn’t have guessed he was a veteran based on the energy he brought to New England’s first preseason contest of the season.

    Mills picked off Stroud (as seen in the clip above), but that wasn’t the only play he made. He was impactful in the run game and generally played with the sort of attitude that we might expect from an undrafted rookie trying to make the squad.

    Mills has played all over the field for the Patriots over the past two seasons.

    He lined up in multiple places again tonight, including safety and the star/nickel corner role.

    Loser | Offensive Line Play

    It was a rough night if you like offensive line play. Both Houston’s and New England’s offenses struggled to get anything going, and a large part of both clubs’ problem was the blocking up front.

    On one hand, we might have seen the OL issues coming. Three of the Texans’ starters — left tackle Laremy Tunsil, right guard Shaq Mason, and right tackle Tytus Howard — didn’t play. And the Patriots didn’t play a single starting offensive lineman.

    But NFL teams often need quite a bit of OL depth over the course of a long season, and neither Houston nor New England can be pleased by what they saw on Thursday night. Texans right tackle Austin Deculus played particularly poorly against the Pats’ pass rush — if Howard (broken hand) isn’t ready for Week 1, look for veteran George Fant to fill in at RT.

    Winner | Patriots WR Tyquan Thornton

    Tyquan Thorton made arguably made the play of the night when he hauled in a 27-yard first-quarter pass from Bailey Zappe. Thornton, New England’s second-round pick in 2022, fought through press coverage and contact before high-pointing the ball and making an outstanding grab.

    However, we’d almost prefer to give Thornton an incomplete grade for the night. The fact that he was even playing on Thursday night — while other receivers like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kendrick Bourne, and DeVante Parker sat — likely means Thornton is, at best, fourth on the Patriots’ WR depth chart.

    Plus, Thornton didn’t even start tonight’s game. That honor went to sixth-round rookies Kayshon Boutte and Demario Douglas, while Thornton only saw time in “11” personnel packages with three wide receivers on the field.

    Winner | Patriots QB Malik Cunningham

    Malik Cunningham was the third quarterback to enter tonight’s game for New England on a night when Mac Jones didn’t start, which speaks to Cunningham’s slot on the depth chart.

    But Cunningham was incredibly impressive on Thursday night, especially when you consider that he’s spent most of training camp working as a wide receiver. Cunningham, who threw for nearly 3,000 yards and rushed for 1,000+ more for Louisville in 2021, started seeing QB reps at recent practice sessions.

    Cunningham completed three of his four attempts, but his best throw came on his sole incompletion, when Pats WR Tre Nixon dropped what would have been a definite touchdown pass. But Cunningham showed his rushing prowess by scoring on a nine-yard run.

    Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks: Yes, Jordan Addison Made That Catch

    Vikings-Seahawks closed out Thursday’s preseason action with a matchup that featured several winners but few losers.

    FINAL SCORE: Seahawks 24, Vikings 13

    Winner | The Backup QBs

    Geno Smith and Kirk Cousins both sat out of tonight’s game, allowing Drew Lock and Nick Mullens to take center stage during the first week of the preseason.

    Lock couldn’t get much going until Seattle’s fourth drive, when he went three-for-three for 47 yards, including a 12-yard TD pass to Easop Winston Jr.

    Lock, who didn’t play a single snap for the Seahawks after coming over in the Russell Wilson trade, will once again serve as Smith’s backup in 2023. He finished Thursday 17-of-24 for 121 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception and even rushed for a first down on a zone-read play.

    On the other side of the field, Nick Mullens didn’t have the arm strength to rip throws like Lock, but he was still capable of moving the ball. The Vikings hope that Mullens never has to see the field next season, but he’s a much better option than the backup QBs Minnesota had on the roster before they acquired Mullens last August.

     

    Winner | Vikings RB Ty Chandler

    The Vikings’ RB2 competition appears to be all but over — if it was ever a real battle to begin with.

    Ty Chandler handled the lion’s share of Minnesota’s backfield touches in the first half and played like a workhorse. He ultimately took 11 touches for 41 yards, but that stat line doesn’t do him justice. Chandler consistently made defenders miss, broke tackles, and served as a viable checkdown option in the passing game.

    Chandler handled 22 of the Vikings’ 29 RB snaps while the first-team offense was still on the field. His ability in pass protection should help him get on the field behind Alexander Mattison once the regular season starts, as Chandler is comfortably ahead of DeWayne McBride and Kene Nwangwu in Minnesota’s running back pecking order.

    Winner | Jordan Addison’s Toe Tap

    NFL referees are in preseason mode too. This catch by Jordan Addison was ruled incomplete even though he clearly got both feet down. The Vikings didn’t challenge the play because, well, it’s the preseason.

    Addison wasn’t credited with that reception, but he proved himself a tremendous route runner. He only finished with one catch for 22 yards, but he probably could have taken that reception further had Mullens not thrown the ball behind him.

    The first-round pick from USC is in line to replace Adam Thielen, who finished with the second-most routes run in the NFL (behind only his teammate Justin Jefferson). If Addison can get open as he did on Thursday, he should be able to make the most of his opportunity.

    Winner | Seahawks RB Zach Charbonnet

    Zach Charbonnet saw a lot of action in Seattle’s first preseason game, which would typically indicate he’s well behind Kenneth Walker III on the Seahawks’ RB depth chart. But given that Charbonnet just returned to practice after dealing with a shoulder injury, Pete Carroll and Co. were likely trying to ensure the second-round rookie had plenty of reps.

    Charbonnet exuded physicality against the Vikings, which is sure to endear him to Caroll and Seattle’s coaching staff. He also caught two passes out of the backfield — he’s likely to be asked to handle a pass-catching role behind Walker during his rookie campaign.

    Loser | Vikings S Lewis Cine

    Lewis Cine missed most of his rookie season in 2022 after suffering a serious leg injury in Week 4. He’s now healthy, but his first action of the season didn’t necessarily go as planned.

    Cine, the final pick of the first round in last year’s draft, got blown up on multiple collisions with Charbonnet and also seemed to take the wrong angle in coverage on several plays.

    Cine made a few nice plays and showed exceptional closing speed while tackling Jaxon Smith-Njigba. But Cine, who is not in line to start at safety, made enough mistakes to get noticed.

    Winner | Vikings ST NaJee Thompson

    Want to earn a spot on an NFL roster as an undrafted rookie free agent? Make plays on special teams like Vikings defensive back NaJee Thompson did on Thursday.

    Thompson executed the hit above to perfection, timing it perfectly to avoid a penalty. But that wasn’t all he did. Thompson later downed a punt at the 2-yard line and repeatedly beat attempted jams as a gunner.

    A Georgia Southern product, Thompson is still a long shot to make the Vikings’ 53-man roster, but he put solid play on tape on Thursday.

    Loser | Preseason Injuries

    There was a scary scene at Lumen Field on Thursday night when Seahawks receiver Cade Johnson was immobilized and taken off the field on a stretcher at halftime. Seattle later announced that Johnson was being transported to Harborview Medical Center “as a precaution” to be evaluated for head and neck injuries.

    As detailed by The Athletic’s Michael Shawn-Dugar, Johnson took a hard fall while returning a kickoff in the second quarter but continued to play. He was taken to the blue medical tent with four minutes remaining in the quarter and evaluated for the remainder of the half — roughly 20 minutes in real time — before being carted off the field.

    Johnson, 25, signed with the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2021 after playing college football at South Dakota State. He appeared in three games last season, posting two catches for 21 yards.

    Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

    Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

    Related Articles