Cheer up, guys. Meaningless football is coming.

You know that the preseason is meaningless. I know that the preseason is meaningless. We all know that the preseason is completely, and utterly meaningless.

Yet every year in early April when the NFL announces the upcoming preseason schedule, somewhere, kittens are crying due to their uncontrollable happiness. The heavens rejoice, and everything you eat tastes like velvet, if that’s your thing. Then you realize that even the preseason is 150 or so days away, and you’re so very sad again.

In truth, the preseason isn’t entirely meaningless, just mostly meaningless. The scoreboard, of course, carries no meaning whatsoever. Oh, there’s always panic when Team X losses by three touchdowns, and then you remember that the vast majority of the players who either scored or allowed those touchdowns will be buried deep on depth charts soon.

The preseason matters immensely for training camp position battles, and roster shuffling. It’s a time when future paychecks are won and lost, and the hardcore football fan — like, I dunno, anyone reading a football flog — watches those battles intensely. Of equal importance is the in-game chemistry-building process between new players expected to make significant contributions (either those picked up through free agency, or high draft picks), and the holdovers from last year.

Anywho, go ahead and check out the schedule in its entirety, and start giggling with delight. A few observations/games of note:

  • The schedule kicks off with the Cowboys and Dolphins in the hall of fame game. The most popular team in the universe against the new dreamiest dream team? Well played, NFL.
  • Teams traditionally treat Week 3 like a regular-season dress rehearsal, with starters playing well into the second half, and often three quarters. So the league’s troll job continues with the Seahawks and Packers playing each other in the battle of the replacement referees. Stay safe out there, M.D. Jennings.
  • Week 3 also features the defending champs in primetime, with the Ravens hosting Carolina. In total, Week 3 has five nationally-televised games
  • That’s also the week when a Jets/Giants New York showdown will take place. Where you at, Fireman Ed?
  • The 49ers — the defending NFC champs — host the Broncos in Week 1, a matchup normally filled with awesome that sadly gets wasted since the starters might play two series. Sigh.