A week from tonight, the real thing starts. Tonight marks the beginning of the last week of anything but real football.
With three contests tonight and 13 Thursday, the NFL preseason will exit with a whimper. Many starters won’t play. Those who do will be on the field sparingly. The teams’ goals will include evaluating the back end of the roster and having enough warm bodies on the field to take all the reps.
No matter how anyone tries to hype it (and NFL Network has been telling us all day that a “Super Bowl rematch!” is coming tonight), the final preseason games are the last shot of a Roman candle that was kept for way too long in a damp basement.
There’s a reason why none of the broadcast networks or ESPN televise Week Four preseason games. It’s the lowest level of fake football, but still full price for the fans of the teams who host the games that will be played tonight and tomorrow night.
Yes, we’ll be monitoring the action via the league’s Preseason Live package. And we’ll be reporting on any significant developments, like injuries. But the final scores matter even less (not that they mattered anyway), and the best part about the final slate of phony games is that it’s the last low-quality football we’ll have to tolerate until next August.
Or, more accurately, until the Pro Bowl.