Life as a sports fan is a weird one these days. The Masters is over, the NBA Playoffs are looming, and NFL Draft talk is all the rage. We're almost two weeks away from the league's annual draft selection, and it will mark another milestone across the stretch of the year where football isn't played. There are a few of these milestones necessary before football actually begins, and one of them is the Preseason. Open up your calendars because we now know the 2017 Dallas Cowboys Preseason Schedule.
The 2017 #NFL preseason schedule: Dallas vs Arizona in the Hall of Fame Game kicks it off on August 3rd pic.twitter.com/oDId1WamCW
We've known for a while now that the Dallas Cowboys will be one of two NFL teams playing in five preseason games before the 2017 season begins. Why? As you know, Jerry Jones will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame this August, and as a result the Dallas Cowboys will be playing in the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.
The 2017 Dallas Cowboys Schedule in terms of the regular season likely won't be released until sometime between April 17th and 21st, but that hasn't stopped a certain Inside The Star Staff Writer from taking a crack at predicting it.
My prediction for the 2017 #Cowboys schedule. Huzzah. pic.twitter.com/E4E8omppQo
What are the storylines across the Cowboys' preseason games now that we know the schedule? Here is our complete breakdown:
Pro Football Hall of Fame Game: Dallas Cowboys v. Arizona Cardinals
The Cowboys will be playing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game against the Arizona Cardinals, thanks to quarterback Kurt Warner's presence in the 2017 class, with a few different details revolving around the annual game in Canton, OH.
Thanks to 2016's fiasco concerning the turf at what is now the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, the NFL moved the PFHOF Game up in the weeklong schedule. Previously the game took place on Sunday, the day after said enshrinement. For the first time in NFL History the game will take place on Thursday with the weekend festivities to follow.
Preseason Week 1: Dallas Cowboys At Los Angeles Rams
We also know that thanks to the Cowboys' presence in the PFHOF game that they will have an extra week of Training Camp. This is of course the Training Camp that will begin in Oxnard, CA where the Cowboys have been known to conduct many a Training Camp across their storied history. As the Cowboys will already be stationed seaside for a bit, it of course makes sense for them to visit the Los Angeles Rams during Week 1 of the Preseason (which they literally did a year ago). Unlike last year we won't get to see bits and pieces the following Tuesday on HBO's Hard Knocks, nor the pomp and circumstance revolving around “the NFL's return to Los Angeles!”, but the NFL will get to milk their golden cow in the Dallas Cowboys for another ratings boost.
It was in Los Angeles against the Rams a year ago that quarterback Dak Prescott got his first official start in the blue and silver, unknowingly partaking in the opening act of what would be a season defined by his storyline. It was only a few months before that game when plenty of Cowboys fans chirped that Jared Goff was the rightful heir to Tony Romo's throne. It's funny how things work out, isn't it?
Preseason Week 2: Dallas Cowboys v. Indianapolis Colts
While the Cowboys will begin their Training Camp period in Oxnard,CA, they will also return home to The Star in Frisco,TX to finish it up. The second and third weeks of their preseason schedule seem to cater to that as the Cowboys will be at home in the middle of August.
The Cowboys will host the Indianapolis Colts, who's last season of serious success coincidentally came in the year that they also last visited Dallas. Andrew Luck and Co. took it on the chin early and often from the Cowboys in the final days of the 2014 regular season, and we'll see if Chuck Pagano and his staff can set the stage for a hopeful 2017 season on what will surely be a muggy night in Texas.
Preseason Week 3: Dallas Cowboys v. Oakland Raiders
The all-important “dress rehearsal” during the preseason period is Week 3. This is when starters and significant players will see a bulk of work, typically a half or even three quarters. As both the Cowboys and Raiders continued to have success across the 2016 season, many speculated as to the spectacle that a Super Bowl between the two teams would be. The Oakland Raiders technically are no more as they have announced an inevitable move to Las Vegas – a move with some interesting impacts on the Cowboys themselves – but the potential for hype explosion still exists between the two squads.
It's harder to ask for a better dress rehearsal than this. The nucleus of offensive talent for the Cowboys gets to go up against the NFL's reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Khalil Mack, and a questionable – that will likely be aided through the NFL Draft – secondary for the Cowboys will try to contain Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper. This game will also mark Tight End Jared Cook's – who signed with the Raiders this offseason – first trip back to AT&T Stadium since the infamous 3rd and 20 conversion he made in the Divisional Round as a member of the Green Bay Packers.
It's no coincidence that the Cowboys and Raiders will square off in the dress rehearsal week. The NFL wants to protect its ratings early on, and this is how you do it.
Preseason Week 4: Dallas Cowboys At Houston Texans
It's thanks to former Right Tackle Ralph Neely that the Cowboys and Texans (since the Oilers are now the Titans) meet in the annual Governor's Cup during the preseason period. The little brother Texans fans treat this game as the Super Bowl, and I mean… can you blame them? It's their chance to play against the Dallas Cowboys!
This year the Governor's Cup will take place in the stadium that actually hosted the most recent Super Bowl as it's Houston's turn to host. Had Tony Romo chosen to lend his services to the struggling Texans instead of the cushy lifestyle retirement and broadcasting have to offer, this could have been a Texas-sized week of “What's going to happen?” stories everywhere you looked.
Instead this will just be one of those games you have on in the background as nobody remotely important to either team will play since the season will be ten days away at that point. It will be fun, we'll power through it, and when it's over the next time our ‘Boys suit up it'll be for real.