The 2013 NFL preseason is upon us, and the schedule features some of the most intriguing matchups imaginable.
While preseason football doesn’t hold a candle to the hard-hitting action of the regular season, the fact that the sport fans love so much is back is a sign of what is coming.
All of the following warm-up battles will be must-see television for hardcore and causal football fans alike. Don’t miss a second of this action.
For full 2013 preseason schedule, check out NFL.com.
Hall of Fame Weekend
Hall of Fame Game TV Schedule
|Aug. 4||8 p.m.||Miami Dolphins vs. Dallas Cowboys||NBC|
Game to Watch: Miami Dolphins vs. Dallas Cowboys
The 2013 preseason kicks off with the Hall of Fame game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Dolphins. While there is no doubt that this game will be ugly as the players round into game shape, this will be the first chance fans get to see football.
Add in all the storylines involving Tony Romo—who will not play, per Carlos Mendez of the Star-Telegram—and the Dolphins’ 2013 free-agent class—Mike Wallace, Dustin Keller, Dannell Ellerbe and more this offseason—and there will be plenty of interest surrounding this matchup.
Week 1 TV Schedule
|Aug. 8||8 p.m.||Cincinnati Bengals vs. Atlanta Falcons||ESPN|
|Aug. 8||10 p.m.||Seattle Seahawks vs. San Diego Chargers||NFL Network|
|Aug. 9||7:30 p.m.||New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles||NFL Network|
|Aug. 9||10 p.m.||Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders||NFL Network|
|Aug. 10||7:30 p.m.||New York Giants vs. Pittsburgh Steelers||NFL Network|
|Aug. 11||1:30 p.m.||Buffalo Bills vs. Indianapolis Colts||NFL Network|
Game to Watch: New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Chip Kelly is familiar with Bill Belichick from the time the men spent together in 2012, a relationship outlined by Adam Jude of The Oregonian, and this matchup will be one of the first opportunities to compare the styles and mannerisms of the Philadelphia Eagles' new coach against those of the New England Patriots’ veteran leader.
There were many who believed the Patriots were heavily influenced by Kelly—the team infused a heavy dosage of no-huddle offense—and it will be the focus of fans watching this matchup to see just how much the Eagles offense mimics New England’s.
With a quarterback battle in Philadelphia heating up between Mike Vick and Nick Foles, and the Patriots trying to find a spot for enigmatic backup QB Tim Tebow, this will be the most exciting matchup of Week 1.
Week 2 TV Schedule
|Aug. 15||8 p.m.||San Diego Chargers vs. Chicago Bears||ESPN|
|Aug. 16||8 p.m.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New England Patriots||FOX|
|Aug. 17||4:30 p.m.||Dallas Cowboys vs. Arizona Cardinals||NFL Network|
|Aug. 17||7:30 p.m.||Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New York Jets||NFL Network|
|Aug. 17||10 p.m.||Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks||NFL Network|
|Aug. 18||7 p.m.||Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Giants||FOX|
|Aug. 19||8 p.m.||Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Washington Redskins||ESPN|
Game to Watch: Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Giants
There are several marquee matchups in Week 2, but few compare to the spectacle that will be the Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Giants. With a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback in Eli Manning squaring off against a rising star like Andrew Luck, this will be a perfect Sunday night showcase for both faces of their respective franchises.
Each team will be focusing on getting the roster down to the appropriate size and working out the depth chart, but with former Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw signing with the Colts this offseason, whether he plays against his former team will be a major storyline.
Bradshaw is still recovering from foot surgery, per Marc Sessler of NFL.com. Whether he plays or not, expect plenty of focus on the relationship between the two teams, which will result in a very intense preseason battle.
Week 3 TV Schedule
|Aug. 22||8 p.m.||Carolina Panthers vs. Baltimore Ravens||ESPN|
|Aug. 23||8 p.m.||Seattle Seahawks vs. Green Bay Packers||CBS|
|Aug. 23||10 p.m.||Chicago Bears vs. Oakland Raiders||NFL Network|
|Aug. 24||4:30 p.m.||Buffalo Bills vs. Washington Redskins||NFL Network|
|Aug. 24||8 p.m.||St. Louis Rams vs. Denver Broncos||CBS|
|Aug. 24||10 p.m.||San Diego Chargers vs. Arizona Cardinals||NFL Network|
|Aug. 25||4 p.m.||New Orleans Saints vs. Houston Texans||FOX|
|Aug. 25||8 p.m.||Minnesota Vikings vs. San Francisco 49ers||NBC|
Game to Watch: New Orleans Saints vs. Houston Texans
In what could be the most exciting matchup of the 2013 preseason, the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints will face off in the week that features the starters playing upward of three full quarters.
That’s enough time for these potent offenses to score 40-plus points apiece.
While both New Orleans and Houston possess incredibly talented offensive units, the focus of this Week 3 matchup will be on defense.
Despite much of the focus being on the return of Saints head coach Sean Payton and the influence he will have on both sides of the ball, the Texans made a huge splash in free agency signing veteran safety Ed Reed.
Whether Reed plays or not is a huge question mark—a torn labrum could keep him out the entire preseason, per the Associated Press (via ESPN)—but his history of playing through pain could signal a few snaps taken against New Orleans.
This is also a very important matchup for fantasy football owners, as it will be a gauge of how these teams will be dispensing the ball and which players should expect a bump in production.
Week 4 TV Schedule
|Aug. 29||7:30 p.m.||New York Giants vs. New England Patriots||NFL Network|
|Aug. 29||10 p.m.||San Francisco 49ers vs. San Diego Chargers||NFL Network|
Game to Watch: San Francisco 49ers vs. San Diego Chargers
The final week of the preseason will feature teams finalizing the rosters and getting ready for the regular season, and the best battle to close this portion of the year will be the San Francisco 49ers against the San Diego Chargers.
Both teams have serious positional battles ongoing (San Francisco is shuffling wide receivers after Michael Crabtree’s injury while San Diego is still adjusting to a new general manager and head coach), and this will be the final chance for players to prove their worth.
This matchup will be mostly backups going to war, but the positional battles to keep their job will make this as intense a Week 4 preseason game as possible.