On Sunday night (ESPN America, 2:00 AM CET), Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler will lead the Bears into Denver to face his former team. Cutler, who spent his first three seasons in the Mile High City, set team single-season records last year in passing yards (4,526), completions (384) and 300-yard passing games (eight). Last week, he completed eight of 13 passes (61.5 percent) for 121 yards and one touchdown.
‚We’re coming together as an offense," says Cutler. ‚We’re not quite there yet but we’re figuring it out."
For Denver, former Bears quarterback Kyle Orton, who is 21-12 (.636) as a starter in his career, will look to capitalize on his strong play last week against Seattle when he completed 18 of 26 passes (69.2 percent) for 182 yards and a touchdown.
‚I’ve got a lot of confidence right now," says Orton. ‚This is the best offense I’ve ever played with and I feel that my game right now is as good as it has ever been."
Completing the Week 3 NFL preseason schedule is a Monday-night tilt between the Minnesota Vikings and Houston Texans (ESPN America, 2:00 AM CET).
Last week, Vikings quarterback Brett Favre made his debut in purple. This week, he will lead his new club into Houston’s Reliant Stadium.
‚Each day, things have gotten a little smoother," says Favre. ‚It’s now just about football. Business as usual."
The game will feature two of the NFL’s top running backs – Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and Houston’s Steve Slaton.
Peterson has led the NFC in rushing in each of his first two seasons and the two-time All-Star has rushed for 3,101 yards, the fourth-highest total in NFL history for a player in his first two years.
‚He can be one of the best backs ever," says Vikings running back coach Eric Bieniemy. ‚The sky’s the limit for him."
Slaton set club rookie records last year with 1,282 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns. He also added 50 catches and was one of only two players with at least 1,200 rushing yards and 50 receptions.
‚Steve has such a good burst, and when he sees something, he hits the hole hard," says Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. ‚You watch him and it’s hard for the first guy to bring him down."
Other TV games in Week 3 of the NFL preseason:
NEW ENGLAND at WASHINGTON (Friday, ESPN America, 2:00 AM CET)
CBS kicks off its 50th year televising the NFL with this preseason matchup on Friday night.
Coming off an exciting 17-13 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, the Redskins will look to make it two wins in a row when they host the Patriots.
Stopping a New England offense that features quarterback Tom Brady is never easy, however.
‚It’s a challenge but we’re going to come out with the same enthusiasm and try and make plays," says Redskins first-round draft choice Brian Orapko.
INDIANAPOLIS at DETROIT (Saturday, NFLN, 1:00 PM ET)
Two first-year head coaches will go head to head when Jim Caldwell and the Indianapolis Colts visit Jim Schwartz and the Detroit Lions.
The game will also feature two quarterbacks drafted No. 1 overall: Colts Pro Bowl QBPeyton Manning (1998) and Lions rookie QB Matthew Stafford (2009).
‚I think the Lions should throw Stafford in there right away because I’m waiting for somebody to break that NFL rookie record for interceptions I set back in 1998," jokesManning.
NEW ORLEANS at OAKLAND (Saturday, NFLN, 4:00 PM ET)
Saints All-Star quarterback Drew Brees passed for 5,069 yards last year, the second-highest total in NFL history, and led an offensive attack that ranked first in the league, averaging 410.7 yards per game. This Saturday, Brees and the Saints will travel to Oakland to face the Raiders and quarterback Ja Marcus Russell.
Russell, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, completed seven of 11 passes (63.6 percent) for 76 yards and a touchdown last week.
‚I feel like Russell has improved," says Raiders first-year head coach Tom Cable. ‚At this point, he’s the quarterback of the Oakland Raiders."
SAN DIEGO at ATLANTA (Saturday, ESPN America, 2:00 AM CET):
Falcons Pro Bowl running back Michael Turner will face his former team in primetime on Saturday night.
A former fifth-round selection by the Chargers (2004), Turner finished second in the NFL with 1,699 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in his first season with Atlanta. He rushed for 65 yards on seven carries and scored a touchdown last week against St. Louis.
‚We wanted to come out and execute," says Turner. ‚The coaches were preaching that all week and we wanted to show that on game day."
In the opposing backfield for San Diego is Turner’s former teammate La Dainian Tomlinson, who rushed for 1,110 yards and recorded 52 receptions last season. The veteran running back has seen action in both of the team’s preseason games.
‚It’s been good to get in there and start getting a rhythm," says Tomlinson. ‚I’ve felt good."
WINNING IS A HABIT: Over the past five seasons, 45 of the 60 clubs (75 percent) to make the postseason had a .500 or better record in the preseason. That’s an average of nine teams (out of 12) per season.
THIS WEEK’S NFL SCHEDULE
(AUGUST 28-31 All times local)
Friday, August 28
New England at Washington, 8:00 PM (CBS)
Green Bay at Arizona, 7:00 PM
Saturday, August 29
Indianapolis at Detroit, 1:00 PM (NFLN)
New Orleans at Oakland, 1:00 PM (NFLN)
Buffalo at Pittsburgh, 7:30 PM
Tennessee at Cleveland, 7:30 PM
San Francisco at Dallas, 7:00 PM
San Diego at Atlanta, 8:00 PM (CBS)
Baltimore at Carolina, 8:00 PM
NY Jets at NY Giants, 8:00 PM
Seattle at Kansas City, 7:00 PM
Sunday, August 30
Chicago at Denver, 6:00 PM (NBC)
Monday, August 31
Minnesota at Houston, 7:00 PM (ESPN)
LAST WEEK’S NFL RESULTS
Thursday, August 20
INDIANAPOLIS 23, Philadelphia 15
Cincinnati 7, NEW ENGLAND 6
Friday, August 21
DALLAS 30, Tennessee 10
Atlanta 20, ST. LOUIS 13
MINNESOTA 17, Kansas City 13
Saturday, August 22
MIAMI 27, Carolina 17
CLEVELAND 27, Detroit 10
WASHINGTON 17, Pittsburgh 13
Tampa Bay 24, JACKSONVILLE 23
GREEN BAY 31, Buffalo 21
New Orleans 38, HOUSTON 14
CHICAGO 17, NY Giants 3
SAN FRANCISCO 21, Oakland 20
San Diego 17, ARIZONA 6
SEATTLE 27, Denver 13
Monday, August 24
BALTIMORE 24, NY Jets 23