2022 NFL Preseason: Here are five key games for fans to watch

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Here are five key preseason games for 49ers fans to watch originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Tick, tick, tick.

The NFL season is inching closer. If the Hall of Fame Game wasn’t enough to satisfy your football cravings, there’s some good news: the full preseason slate starts next week.

OK, so it’s not really what you want to see. Games are mostly filled with backups and practice squaders, but at least it’s a taste of the real thing.

Here are five preseason games to look forward to over the next few weeks:

Packers vs. 49ers, Aug. 12

It seems like yesterday that the Packers and 49ers were battling in the snow at Lambeau Field with an NFC title game berth on the line. That was nearly eight months ago and – even though this preseason game means nothing – it’s always special seeing these two uniforms face off. This game should feature a lot of Jordan Love and Trey Lance, which will give fans an opportunity to see what the future of each franchise could hold.

Seahawks vs. Steelers, Aug. 13

There aren’t many true quarterback competitions this summer, but this game will feature two clear-cut battles. On both sides, an unproven veteran (Geno Smith, Mitch Trubisky) and an unproven youngster (Drew Lock, Kenny Pickett) are squaring off to try and replace a franchise legend (Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger). This Week 1 matchup will be the first true test in the spotlight to see who has the early edge in the competition.

Cowboys vs. Broncos, Aug. 13

Shortly after Wilson’s old team plays, the man himself will make his Broncos debut in primetime against America’s Team. As a 33-year-old veteran, it’s always unclear how much Wilson will actually play. But either way, he should get some snaps and we’ll get to see how he meshes with new Denver head coach Nathaniel Hackett. On the other side, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy is entering a potential make-or-break season after last year’s home playoff loss to the 49ers.

Raiders vs. Dolphins, Aug. 20

Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill have gotten used to playing with Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes, arguably the two best quarterbacks in football. Now, they’re in completely new situations with Las Vegas and Miami, respectively, as they look to prove that they can thrive without a top-tier gunslinger. Leading the way for these teams are two new head coaches – Josh McDaniels in Vegas for his second stint as the lead man and Mike McDaniel making his debut as top boss.

Falcons vs. Jets, Aug. 22

Monday Night Football returns with Falcons-Jets in the Meadowlands. On paper, this doesn’t look like the most thrilling matchup, but rebuilding teams can often produce the best preseason battles. Young quarterbacks Desmond Ridder and Zach Wilson should get plenty of snaps, plus first-round rookie receivers Drake London and Garrett Wilson could make some highlight-reel catches.