The NFL preseason is a scourge that lasts two weeks too long, and fans in Jacksonville and Indianapolis will bear the brunt of the boredom as the league saddled both fanbases with home games in the first and last weeks of the preseason.
All NFL preseason games are painful exercises in crass commercialism as fans are roped into paying full price for a substandard product featuring players who will not be playing in the NFL a month later. While the second and third weeks are often treated by teams as dress rehearsals for the regular season, starters rarely play more than a series or two in the first week, and almost no team risks any quality player in Week 4.
The NFL will try to highlight exciting matchups like Andrew Luck versus Robert Griffin III in the third week of the preseason or the Texans' Week 2 matchup against San Francisco, but forcing any fanbase to have Week 1 one Week 4 at home is the sporting equivalent of cruel and unusual punishment.
Some fans enjoy sounding smug about the preseason and wax eloquent about the awesome roster battles and all the things that can be learned, but the fact is, the preseason is utterly meaningless. Preseason results actually have a negative correlation with regular-season results. Any coach who says he cares about preseason results will likely be out of a job soon.
For working class fans, the extra game tickets, parking and a beer represents a serious blow to the wallet. The NFL should work harder to ensure every fanbase gets at least one home game during the vaguely useful second and third weeks. If fans can't have four quarters of real football, they should at least get to see more than four series of real football.
Other preseason notes:
- The Texans, Titans and Jaguars all get to play the Saints in the preseason. It will be interesting to see if Parcels is on the side line.
- The Jaguars welcome in the champion New York Giants in Week 1. Eli Manning might throw a pass. Or not.
- The Colts and Steelers play, and it never ceases to amaze me how rarely that happens. While the Colts and Patriots meet every year going on forever, the Colts and Steelers only infrequently cross paths.
- It will be fascinating to see who gets the bulk of the snaps in Nashville Week 3 against the Cardinals.
Week 1 at Carolina
Week 2 vs. San Francisco
Saturday, Aug. 25 at New Orleans (CBS)
Week 4 vs. Minnesota
Week 1 vs. St. Louis
Sunday, Aug. 19 at Pittsburgh (NBC)
Week 3 at Washington
Week 4 vs. Cincinnati
Week 1 vs. N.Y. Giants
Week 2 at New Orleans
Week 3 at Baltimore
Week 4 vs. Atlanta
Week 1 at Seattle
Week 2 at Tampa Bay
Thursday, Aug. 23 vs. Arizona (ESPN)
Week 4 vs. New Orleans