Getty Images

What you are about to read is not an oxymoron: this has been an exciting NFL preseason. After a one-year absence due to COVID-19, NFL teams have resumed preseason play in preparation for the 2021 regular season. During the first two weeks of the preseason, NFL fans watched Teddy Bridgewater edge out Drew Lock in a spiriting quarterback competition in Denver. They watched Justin Fields dazzle Soldier Field with his passing and running in his NFL debut. In Las Vegas, Raiders fans filled Allegiant Stadium for the first time. Those are just a few of the storylines that have played out so far. 

If the first two weeks are any indication, the third and final week of the NFL's exhibition season should be an exciting one. Several position battles have been decided, but there are several more that will come down to this weekend's games. With that in mind, let's take a look at one thing fans should keep an eye on in each Week 3 preseason contest. 

Friday, August 27 

Colts at Lions 

Time: 7 p.m. ET
TV: WJBK (Detroit), WXIN (Indianapolis)

Carson Wentz's health situation has raised the significance of the Colts' competition as it relates to the No. 2 quarterback. Jacob Eason will get the start on Friday night after going 16 of 27 for 132 yards in the Colts' second preseason game, a 12-10 win over the Vikings. Sam Ehlinger, who directed a game-winning drive in the Colts' preseason opener against Carolina, is also expected to get significant playing time against Detroit. 

Steelers at Panthers

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: WSOC (Charlotte), KDKA (Pittsburgh)

Dwayne Haskins will make his first preseason start in what is his last case to be the Steelers' No. 2 quarterback behind Ben Roethlisberger. There's also an interesting position battle at running back to keep an eye on, as Benny Snell will make his preseason debut after dealing with an injury earlier in camp. While Snell's spot on the roster appears to be safe, Anthony McFarland, Kalen Ballage and Jalen Samuel will get one last shot to make their case to make Pittsburgh's 53-man roster. 

Eagles at Jets 

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: WCAU (Philadelphia), WNBC (New York)

Jalen Hurts' highly-anticipated first live action with rookie DeVonta Smith was delayed after Hurts missed the Eagles' second preseason game with an illness. Eagles coach Nick Siraianni said he would wait until the Eagles finished their joint practices with New York before deciding whether or not Hurts will play on Friday night. All told, Hurts and Smith had solid practices against the Jets, with Smith specifically having success on one-on-one drills with New York's defensive backs. Some reports have indicated that it's unlikely Hurts will play Friday night, but an official call has yet to be made.

Excited for the biggest NFL schedule in history? Follow along on the CBS Sports app and get the latest insights from our team of NFL insiders, plus news from our team of experts, as well as data insights on every player. If you already have the CBS Sports app, make sure to favorite the your favorite team so you don't miss a thing!

Vikings at Chiefs 

Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network, KCTV (Kansas City), KMSP (Minneapolis)

A rematch of Super Bowl IV, don't bet on Andy Reid calling Hank Stram's fabled "65 Toss Power Trap" on Friday night. Mike Zimmer, however, may be inclined to take a play from Stram's playbook if it led to more points for his offense. Minnesota's offense has yet to score a touchdown in the preseason. Another interesting thing to monitor is the competition between Chiefs quarterbacks Shane Buechele and Anthony Gordon. With Chad Henne slated to back up Patrick Mahomes, Buchele and Gordon are competing for a spot on Kansas City's practice squad. 

Saturday, August 28

Packers at Bills

Time: 1 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network, WKBW (Buffalo), WTMJ (Milwaukee)

Packers fans are hoping to get one more glimpse of Jordan Love this preseason after the 2020 first-round pick left Green Bay's first preseason game with a shoulder injury. Prior to sustaining his injury, Love -- who said that he did not experience any pain in his shoulder during this week's practices -- went 12 of 17 for 122 yards and a touchdown during the Packers' preseason opener against the Texans

Cardinals at Saints 

Time: Canceled

This game has been canceled due to the impending impact of Hurricane Ida.

Ravens at Washington

Time: 6 p.m. ET
TV: WRC-TV (Washington), WBAL (Baltimore)

History will be on the line in this matchup. The Ravens have not lost a preseason game since Sept. 3, 2015, tying an NFL record that has stood for 59 years. If Baltimore wins, it will be an NFL record 20th consecutive preseason victory. Standing in Baltimore's way is a Washington offense that is hoping to get on track after scoring just 17 and 13 points in its first two preseason games. Washington has gotten solid production from rookie running back Jaret Patterson, who ran for 111 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries in his first two preseason games. 

Bears at Titans 

Time: 7 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network, WKRN (Nashville), WFLD (Chicago)

Justin Fields will start and play at least through the first half of Saturday night's game. The 11th overall pick in the draft, Fields went 14 of 20 for 142 yards with one touchdown pass in his first preseason game, a 20-13 win over the Dolphins. He also rushed for a score while gaining 33 yards on five carries. Fields played behind Andy Dalton in Chicago's second preseason game, a 44-15 loss to the Bills. Fields went 9 of 19 passes for 80 yards against the Bills while rushing for 46 yards on four carries. 

Buccaneers at Texans

Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: KTRK (Houston), WFLA (Tampa)

Buccaneers fans aren't sweating their quarterback position, not as long as Tom Brady is in town. That being said, Tampa Bay fans would surely like to see a strong showing from rookie Kyle Trask in his final preseason game. After being the victim of some dropped passes in his first preseason game, Trask went 13 of 24 for 131 yards and two interceptions in last week's 34-3 loss to the Titans. On Saturday night, Trask will face a Texans defense that allowed three touchdowns while recording four interceptions during their first two preseason games. 

Rams at Broncos

Time: 9:05 p.m. ET
TV: KTVD (Denver), KCBS (Los Angeles)

It's not yet known whether or not Sony Michel will make his Rams debut against the Broncos. We do know that Drew Lock will play after losing his competition against Bridgewater. While he wasn't able to beat out Bridgewater, Lock can nevertheless put a bow on what has been a solid preseason. In Denver's first two preseason games, Lock went a combined 14 of 21 for 231 yards and two touchdowns. 

Chargers at Seahawks

Time: 10 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network, KING-TV (Seattle), KABC (Los Angeles)

Saturday night could be Seattle's first in-game glimpse of rookie receiver D'Wayne Eskridge, who has impressed in practice after recently coming off of the team's physically unable to perform list. The team's second-round pick, Eskridge is hoping to be Seattle's No. 3 receiver alongside D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett

Sunday, August 29 

Jaguars at Cowboys

Time: 1 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network, KTVT (Dallas-Fort Worth), WJAX (Jacksonville)

The Jaguars need a win in the worst way, even if it is just the preseason. Urban Meyer's team has faced some negative headlines in the days following Monday's loss to the Saints, along with the news that rookie Travis Etienne is will miss the entire season with a Lisfranc injury. Specifically, Meyer would like to more progress from his offense and quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who on several occasions looked like Fran Tarkenton while furiously evading the Saints' pass rush. 

Dolphins at Bengals 

Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: CBS, WKRC (Cincinnati), WFOR (Miami)

Sunday will not only be Joe Burrow's preseason debut, it will be his first live action since tearing his ACL 10 games into the 2020 season. While most of the national attention will be on Burrow, Bengals fans are hoping that Ja'Marr Chase bounces back after dropping several passes during Cincinnati's first two preseason games. Linebacker Noah Spence may also be making his Bengals debut after the team signed him shortly after rookie Joseph Ossai underwent possible season-ending knee surgery. 

Raiders at 49ers

Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network, KPIX (San Francisco), KVVU (Las Vegas)

With Kyle Shanahan keeping his starting quarterback decision under wraps, Sunday will be rookie quarterback Trey Lance's final chance to make a good impression during the preseason. During his first two preseason games, Lance went a combined 13 of 26 for 230 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Lance has made a quick connection with Trent Sherfield, who caught passes of 80 and 41 yards from Lance during the 49ers' first two preseason games. 

Patriots at Giants 

Time: 6 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network, WNBC (New York), WBZ-TV (Boston)

Like several other teams, the Patriots have some questions as it relates to their starting quarterback. While Cam Newton is still the starter, Mac Jones' play this preseason has generated buzz over when -- not if -- he will get his chance to lead New England's offense. Reports of Jones out-playing Giants quarterback Daniel Jones during a recent joint practice has only added to the Patriots' quarterback storyline entering Sunday's game. 

Browns at Falcons 

Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: NBC, WUPA (Atlanta), WEWS (Cleveland)

Cleveland has an intriguing competition for its No. 3 running back spot behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. While D'Ernest Johnson has been the front-runner, John Kelly made a strong case for himself after rushing for 58 yards on nine carries along with catching one pass for 21 yards in last Sunday's win over the Falcons. Also competing for this spot is Demetric Felton, a 2021 sixth-round pick who had four catches for 44 yards in Cleveland's first preseason game.