MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 01: Quarterback Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets throws against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
The NFL released the 2012 preseason schedule on Wednesday and, while it's still just the preseason, there are several notable games to watch.
August. For most of us, it marks the point where sweet tea and air conditioning are no longer enough to make summer tolerable. Hollywood dumps its clunkers on a lethargic public in August. The most exciting thing about August, after National Immunization Awareness Month, is NFL preseason football.
You don't have to let August win. There are at least a few silver linings in the NFL preseason, a few dates among 31 days of heat and games that don't count to give you at least some reason not to leave the car running in the garage after a day of back-to-school shopping. The NFL preseason has at least a few ups to keep you hanging on until more meaningful football starts in September. A few. It's still preseason but there are some story lines that await us when the August slate of preseason football begins.
Related: Complete 2012 NFL Preseason Schedule
New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals - Tim Tebow's first game as a Jet
Let's go ahead and get our obligatory Tim Tebow game out of the way. If you missed Tebow on your television screens, except for that brief window of breathless hagiographies in March, then you will want to see his debut with the Jets, as if you could really avoid it.
New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots - Brady vs. Brees
Tom Brady versus Drew Brees would be the prime time game in the regular season. They might play for about eight snaps each, maybe, in the preseason, which is a good example of why most fans hate preseason football. Of course, the Saints second teamers may be their starters if Roger Goodell sends many players to the NFL gulag for BountyGate.
Related: Gregg Williams Audio Is Damaging To Saints
Kansas City Chiefs at St. Louis Rams - The Governor's Cup
The years have been difficult for football fans in this swing state. Fans will get a closer look to see if those offseason changes to the coaches and rosters have these teams on the right track. Politicos looking for some tea leaves here will have to look somewhere else; Kansas City has won the Governor's Cup in each election year since 2000, spanning the election of presidents from both parties.
Buffalo Bills at Minnesota Vikings - Mario Williams vs. Matt Kalil
If the Vikings do end up drafting Matt Kalil, this could be a trial by fire with the potential to see Mario Williams for at least a few snaps. Kalil is one of the most gifted pass protectors in the draft in a long time. Williams is one of the most feared pass rushers in the game today.
Related: Vikings Pick In SB Nation Mock Draft
Indianapolis Colts at Washington Redskins - Luck vs. RG3
Despite the chattering classes insistence on drumming up a debate, Andrew Luck will be under center for the Colts and Robert Griffin III in the same spot for the Redskins. If teams hew to preseason traditions, both quarterbacks could get at least two quarters of work against each other. I hope that both of these players reach their ceilings, because these games could be epic affairs for years to come.
San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos - Manning suitors face off
Quarterback week continues. Will Peyton Manning make any preseason appearances this year? If he does, this is the game we're most likely to see him in action, and we want to see him in action for a host of reasons. Throw in the subtext of the 49ers being interested in Manning at the last minute and stringing Alex Smith along as part of the process to make it a little more interesting.
Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys - Maybe the Dolphins have a QB by this point
Two kinds of people watch the final week of preseason football: shut-ins and die-hard fans, sometimes they're one and the same. Miami and Dallas might be worth tuning in for if only to see which players will be taking over for the injured starters by October. Besides, if you're going to watch a game at least this one is set against the backdrop of Jerry World.
Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks - Replacement team for the Battle of the Bay
This is the closest thing to the Raiders usual preseason matchup with the 49ers. The NFL nixed the annual Battle of the Bay game for the first time since 2000, after a larger than usual amount of fights and two parking lot shootings last year. Some people have to ruin it for everyone.