Hallelujah, it’s the final week of the NFL Preseason. After what always feels like an eternity to finish, Week 4 of the preseason is here on Thursday night. As is always the case, there are no weekend preseason games in Week 4. The NFL gives teams a little extra time to prepare for their Week 1 matchup of the regular season. However, teams have already begun their preparation for Week 1. The fourth week of the preseason is nothing more than a throwaway week.
Starters at most will get one series of action Thursday night. Most teams, though, don’t like to play their starting unit in this instance. Why risk an injury this close to the start of the regular season? We’re starting to see teams pulling their starters way earlier in Week 3 matchups as well. They typically played well into the 3rd quarter, but most are gone after the first-half.
Week 4 is all about the bubble players. This is the last chance to make an impression to the coaching staff. In that sense, it’s an important week for those players. This is their Super Bowl. It’s either catch on to the active roster, go to the practice squad, or without a job. This isn’t just a chance to impress their coaching staff, but others across the league will be monitoring players who have a chance of getting cut. They go fishing to find a diamond in the rough and sometimes find gold. The Panthers and Steelers will be looking for a crisp performance from the backups tonight at Heinz Field.
Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger solidified their position on the depth chart years ago, but there is some competition behind them. It’s rather murky for the Steelers, who currently have three quarterbacks behind Big Ben. There could be a case made for all three to be the backup in 2018. Josh Dobbs is slated to start, with Landry Jones and rookie Mason Rudolph behind him. Taylor Heinicke will get the starting nod for the Panthers. He is in a QB battle with Garrett Gilbert for the backup job. Head below for our free Panthers vs. Steelers pick for Thursday night in Week 4 of the NFL Preseason.
Carolina Panthers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Preseason Betting Odds:
vs. Steelers -2.5(-110)
Betting odds provided by Sportsbetting.ag
Panthers vs. Steelers Pick:
There has been speculation that teams have inquired about the availability of Josh Dobbs and Landry Jones. The Steelers just drafted Rudolph and he has the most upside after a prolific career at Oklahoma State. Jones has been a serviceable backup for Roethlisberger over the last several years, but the Steelers are hoping that Rudolph can eventually replace Roethlisberger.
Like most Big-12 quarterbacks, he’s going to need time to adjust to a pro offense in Pittsburgh. Rudolph played out of the shotgun his entire college career and likely needs some experience before he is considered. Who knows how much longer Roethlisberger is going to play for. Rudolph played the second-half against the Titans last week, completing 7-of-11 passes with 65 yards.
Dobbs will get the start for the Steelers in this one. It’s a big opportunity for Dobbs to showcase his talent. Dobbs did not get a snap last week, so the Steelers are going to largely base his performances off Week 2 and this game. Dobbs saw plenty of action against the Packers, throwing for 192 yards and 2 touchdowns with an interception. He’s led the Steelers on five drives to the end zone in the preseason. From what I’ve seen in the preseason, Dobbs would be my backup. This battle is so closely contested, though, that it could go to anyone.
The Panthers will seek a clean sweep of the preseason tonight. They’ve gone 3-0 and are gunning for a 4th win tonight. The Lions went 4-0 in the preseason back in 2008 and followed it up with a 0-16 regular season, so don’t get too excited. Newton looked sharp against the Pats last week, but he’ll be watching from the bench tonight. Neither Taylor Heinicke or Garrett Gilbert have separated from one another for the backup job.
They have both produced average numbers, but Heinicke has more mobility so the edge may go to him. Heinicke went 5-of-6 for 46 yards and Gilbert 5-of-9 for 46 yards against the Pats a week ago. The Panthers may also look to free agency or a trade if this game doesn’t go well. In any event, I give the edge to the Steelers’ backups in this matchup. Dobbs, Rudolph, and Landry all have something to prove and they’re at home. I’d lean with the Steelers if you’re looking for preseason action to bet on Thursday.