According to Adam Schefter, who is usually right about these things, the NFL is releasing its preseason schedule this afternoon and the regular season schedule later this month. The regular season match-ups are already known, but the order is as mysterious as a white Airhead. The NFL does a great job in the offseason at releasing pieces of news whenever there's a collective wondering, "What the hell are we going to talk about until August ?" by fans and media. Today is like being surprised with a new car on Christmas only to go outside and see a P.T Cruiser with a giant spoiler adorned with one of those big ass bows in your driveway. Thanks, Mom and Dad.
The preseason schedule is not determined by a pre-determined rotating basis like the regular season. Instead, the NFL schedules the match-ups itself and allows teams to negotiate with others on who they would like to play. The NFL has a couple of rules to guide teams for who to play in the preseason. No team can play a team in their division (aw man, we don't get to see Blaine Gabbert in August when he is at his best), geographically close match-ups are preferred, no team can play each other twice in the same preseason, teams must play an NFL team (can't play the Mexico City Pumas Dorados de la UNAM), teams are encouraged to not play a team they will meet in the regular season, and the NFL would like teams play against teams outside their own conference.
Based on these assumptions and laws on the NFL regular season, here is what I would like to see in the preseason.
Game 1 vs Green Bay Packers. I know it's a bit of a trip, but Wisconsin is supposedly beautiful in the summer. Since they are already playing the 49ers in the regular season, I needed a back-up. Houston was torched by top quarterbacks last season and is going to have to beat one in order to get past one win in the postseason. What better way to improve against this issue than planning for Aaron Rodgers? Also, the entire City of Houston and the team need an acid bath to get the grime from last year's game off them. It will be exciting to see the unveiling of Wade Phillips' new defense against the best quarterback in the NFL as well.
Game 2 vs Saints. Staying with the same trend of playing against top QBs, Houston would continue to improve and get its defense ready for opening weekend by playing against the refurbished Sean Payton offense. Matt Schuab should also have the chance to get his mojo back against a pass defense that is as porous as a pumice rock. It's a short drive over to Louisiana from Houston to lower the fatigue that comes from traveling.
Game 3 vs Cowboys. This is the most important preseason game, where the starters play for at least a half and is the last tune-up for the team before the regular season. Playing Dallas in this game is not the best strategy-wise for improving the team since the Cowboys' offense or defense (unless it was 2002) mimics a future regular season match-up. However, it would have the best feel of a regular season game because of the crowd and attention that comes from the Texas showdown. Don't forget beating the Cowboys, even if its in the preseason, is always as satisfying as underwear straight from the oven
Game 4 vs Eagles. The last game is simply a throw away game for the young guys and starters to make their case on why they should stay on the roster. At least we get to see Roc Carmichael start at corner, old friends DeMeco Ryans, James Casey, and Connor Barwin, and get a glimpse of Chip Kelly's zany offense at the NFL level.
The preseason is like when you meet up with an old group of friends and everything is a little awkward since no one has seen each other in so long. The first hour or so is a monotonous droning of, "So how have you been?" or "How do you like going to X School." Once all of that uneasiness is out of the way, actual interesting human interaction starts to happen. Regardless, it's always a beautiful thing to come back from the pool in August to see Arian Foster zig-zag through the line of scrimmage like a ninja once again and know that the the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to intensify. Soon everything will feel right again.
Who do you want to see the Texans play this preseason?