Rejoice, NFL fans, for football is back! Well, sort of. Anyway, here’s the skinny (no, literally, it’s an appallingly thin amount of information) on each of this week’s preseason games.
Colts at Jets, 7 p.m.
Gang Green unveils its hunky offseason acquisition, model/wide receiver Eric Decker, who will make Jets fans swoon … the moment he helps Geno Smith complete a pass. Indy will start the game with Trent Richardson, then sit him after he gets eight carries or nine yards, whichever comes first.
49ers at Ravens, 7:30 p.m. (NFL Network)
The last time these two squads met, it was in New Orleans in February 2013, so get your blackout jokes ready. Here’s one: The Super Bowl power outage only lasted 34 minutes, so why is it taking so long for someone to flip Joe Flacco’s switch back to ‘On’?
Patriots at Redskins, 7:30 p.m.
Bill Belichick gets ready for his 15th season as coach of New England. Meanwhile, Jay Gruden becomes the eighth guy in that span to take charge of Redskins. Add in all the time Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has spent defending his team’s name, and is it any wonder he doesn’t know his new coach’s name?
Bengals at Chiefs, 8 p.m.
It’s remarkable how reactions to Andy Dalton’s new, $115 million contract with Cincinnati are just like reactions to Dalton himself. It’s a horrendous contract! It’s a perfectly fine contract! It’s a contract that really needs to prove itself in the postseason! Fantasy players who have already spent a No. 1 pick on KC’s Jamaal Charles will all be reacting to his activity in this game the same way: with dread. Just don’t get hurt, dude!
Seahawks at Broncos, 9 p.m.
This contest should bear an uncanny resemblance to the Super Bowl they just played against each other, in that the competitive part of it will be over long before halftime. The Broncos used “35,” the margin by which they were outscored in that game, as an offseason rallying cry. Look for the Seahawks to respond by yelling, “13,” as in the difference in age between Russell Wilson (25) and Peyton Manning (38).
Cowboys at Chargers, 10 p.m. (NFL Network)
Tony Romo is still rehabbing his back, so he’ll sit this one out, providing a good opportunity for Dallas to remind its fans, “Oh, you don’t care much for Romo? Well, here’s Brandon Weeden, Caleb Hanie and Dustin Vaughan. Enjoy.” Philip Rivers will probably play one series, then spend the rest of the game deciding which bolo tie he’ll wear at the post-game press conference.
Dolphins at Falcons, 7 p.m.
Atlanta is this year’s “Hard Knocks” squad, just as Miami was two years ago. From what the show has taught us about the two teams, this much is certain: When Joe Philbin and Mike Smith meet at midfield after the game, they will have the most boring conversation of all time.
Bills at Panthers, 7:30 p.m.
Here’s hoping Carolina trolls Buffalo by playing Bon Jovi over the P.A. system every chance it can. The Panthers can also stick it to Bills Nation if they can show, at least for one game, that in Kelvin Benjamin, they got a better receiver then Sammy Watkins 24 picks later in the first round and, you know, didn’t mortgage the future for that privilege.
Buccaneers at Jaguars, 7:30 p.m.
New Jacksonville running back Toby Gerhart will sit this one out with a hip injury, but that’s okay, because Jags fans will be glued to the team’s quarterback battle. Actually, it’s two battles — No. 3 overall draft pick Blake Bortles must eventually unseat incumbent Chad Henne, but first he must prove that he is less ridiculously named than Blaine Gabbert.
Eagles at Bears, 8 p.m.
Chicago may still be emotionally scarred from the 54-11 beatdown Philly dropped on it last December. However, the compassionate Eagles plan on reassuring their opponent that it can’t happen again, mainly by giving extended playing time to Mark Sanchez.
Saints at Rams, 8 p.m. (NFL Network)
Months after Michael Sam came out of the closet, we’ll finally start to find out if he can collapse the pocket. If nothing else, at least we know one Ram named Sam will play; Mr. Bradford, still on the way back from knee surgery, was described by Coach Jeff Fisher as unlikely to see the field.
Raiders at Vikings, 8 p.m.
It’s the new-look Raiders, by which I mean the old-looking Raiders. Don’t expect a lot of playing time for the likes of Maurice Jones-Drew, Matt Schaub, Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley and Carlos Rogers, as Oakland will need to save them for games that really count, the ones where they’re battling to keep the dream of a .500 season alive. Minnesota will be hoping Christian Ponder plays well enough to make himself trade bait; too bad he’s way too young for the Raiders’ liking.
Browns at Lions, 7:30 p.m.
This game, of course, won’t truly begin until Johnny Manziel enters it. It’ll be so exciting to see him rolling up, er rolling out and making plays. For Detroit, it’s the debut of new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, grandson of Vince. You may not catch the resemblance right away until you see Joe on the sideline, yelling, “What the hell is going on out here?!”
Steelers at Giants, 7:30 p.m.
Apparently, it’s just the first preseason game, but the stakes could hardly be higher, for apparently nothing less than the affections of “Apparently Kid” may be at stake. The five-year-old whose “apparently”-laden TV appearance went viral, subsequently went on “GMA” and told Michael Strahan, “I used to like the Giants, but my grandfather brain-washed me into liking the Steelers.” Oh, it is on. Apparently.
Packers at Titans, 8 p.m.
Our first chance to see the results of all the radical changes Tennessee made in the offseason, by which I mean adding an offensive lineman in free agency to its already good offensive line, then using its first-round pick on an offensive lineman. In fairness, the Titans did get rid of their head coach, Mike Munchak, who had been an offensive lineman, and replaced him with Ken Whisenhunt, who played a completely different position — blocking tight end. Crazy!
Texans at Cardinals, 8:30 p.m.
The NFL seems to be easing Jadeveon Clowney into his new life as a professional pass-rusher by letting him chase after Carson Palmer, who’d be hard-pressed to outrun a goal post. Between Clowney and J.J. Watt, Palmer may decide that he’s gotten enough reps in just by standing for the national anthem.