By Christian S. Kohl
This week was the final week that starters were likely to appear in the preseason, offering fans one more indiscernible glimpse of what may lie ahead in the ensuing 17 weeks of NFL battle. Here’s who impressed, fell flat, and avoided injury in the NFC this week:
Chicago Bears: Chicago trumped a woeful Oakland team this week 34-26. Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte both impressed, providing fans the hope that each will be huge contributors to the attack this season. Martellus Bennett continues to remain largely ignored and ineffective out there this preseason.
Detroit Lions: Detroit stomped on New England 40-9 on Thursday. The Lions committed five personal fouls for essentially no reason during the contest, while Reggie Bush impressed with over 100 Rec Yards. Calvin Johnson was inactive due to a bruised knee, but should be ready to terrorize all of football come week 1.
Green Bay Packers: Green Bay dropped a close battle against the Seahawks, 17-10. DuJuan Harris injured his knee, and while the severity of that is currently unknown, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson each returned to action this week battling nicks of their own.
Minnesota Vikings: Minnesota dropped their contest this week against San Francisco by a score of 34-14. Greg Jennings registered 2 rec, 24 yards in the affair. Adrian Peterson appeared but did not handle the football, as Minnesota is content to wait until week 1 to unleash his fury. Ponder remained inconsistent, throwing 17-23 with a pick.
Carolina Panthers: Carolina trumped Baltimore on Thursday by a score of 34-27. Greg Olsen looked solid, but beyond that, the first team offense failed to deliver a stellar effort. No major injuries befell any Panthers players however, so chalk this dress rehearsal up to a pure survive and advance before entering the regular season.
Atlanta Falcons: Atlanta fell to the Titans on Saturday, despite another standout effort by Julio Jones. No Roddy White in that contest, but Falcons fans did get their first glimpse of Tony Gonzalez this year. The 132 year-old tight end registered solid numbers, posting 21 yards off 2 receptions in limited action.
New Orleans Saints: New Orleans took care of business against Houston on Sunday, defeating the Texans 31-23. The backs of the Saints all looked impressive, with Ingram, Sproles and Thomas all posting impressive numbers as receivers. Colston did dress for the game, but the ball was never thrown his way. The Saints look to be on track to contend for divisional supremacy yet again, though prepare for a host of shootouts.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tampa Bay snuck past Miami 17-16 on Saturday. While their WR corps looked solid again, Freeman continued to struggle, just 6-16 with a lost fumble. His ability to perform consistently remains the largest unanswered question for the Bucs heading into week 1.
Dallas Cowboys: Dallas handled the Bengals 24-18 this Saturday, led by huge receiving efforts by both Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. Their running game also looked effective, featuring an impressive balanced attack against Cincy. DL Tyrone Crawford was placed on IR after tearing his Achilles on week 1 of training camp.
Philadelphia Eagles: Philly won against Jacksonville 31-24 this week, thanks to 92 yards and a TD from Bryce Brown. Brown also added a fumble, further prompting questions about his consistency. DB Brandon Hughes broke his hand in the game, with no timetable set for his return.
Washington Redskins: Washington waxed Buffalo 30-7 on Saturday, featuring impressive work from their cast of first team performers. Ron Jaworski continues to offer optimistic analysis, expressing doubts about RGIII’s mechanics after watching him throw this week. Griffin, however, did practice at full speed this week, and remains on pace to begin as the week 1 Washington starter.
New York Giants: The Giants dropped this week’s game against the Jets 24-21. The Giants, however, lost DB Stevie Brown for the year with a torn ACL. Hakeem Nicks delivered another underwhelming effort this preseason, and still appears to be not be up to game speed. Victor Cruz remained out of the lineup nursing an injured heel.
St. Louis Rams: St. Louis lost a close one to Denver this week by a score of 27-26. Jared Cook looked impressive, registering 50 yards and a touchdown. Tavon Austin displayed huge playmaking ability on punt returns, but caught only one pass for 15 yards during offensive sets.
Seattle Seahawks: Seattle edged Green Bay 17-10, led by the 97 yard, TD effort by RB Christine Michael. Russell Wilson looked a bit shaky this week, completing 11-17 but throwing two picks in the process. Marshawn Lynch failed to deliver big numbers here, but look for him to batter opposing defenses come week 1 and beyond.
Arizona Cardinals: Arizona fell to San Diego 24-7 this week, despite 34 yards on 4 rec from Larry Fitzgerald. The injury to Rashard Mendenhall was diagnosed as a mild sprain, and he should be ready for action come week 1. Carson Palmer continues to look steady despite an incredibly porous offensive line.
San Francisco 49ers: San Francisco trumped Minnesota on Sunday by a score of 34-14. Colin Kaepernick threw 7-13 for 72 yards and a touchdown, as well as one rush for six yards. Anquan Boldin was shut out, but the Niners survived their dress rehearsal without any key injuries.
NFC teams and the fantasy owners of their most electric players averted catastrophe this week in the final contest for first team offenses this preseason. This upcoming week of exhibition contests will be largely ceremonial, and then week 1 finally arrives. Keep it here for all the latest developments league-wide.
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Christian S. Kohl is a sports contributor for CBS Local Digital Media.