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NFL releases 65-game preseason schedule for 2016

Football is back ... in four months.

The NFL has released the 2016 preseason schedule, which kicks off on Aug. 7 when the Indianapolis Colts face off against the Green Bay Packers in the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. The rest of the league gets started a few days later and continues for four weeks, with everybody wrapping up on Sept. 2.

Los Angeles will host its first NFL game since 1994 when the Cowboys visit the Rams on Aug. 13 at 8 p.m. ET.

While fans might get excited about the idea of watching real football, these games don't count and are essentially glorified practices dressed up for television. The current structure of the schedule has come under heavy scrutiny in recent years and there is a growing consensus for the need to reduce it.

Last August, Aaron Rodgers called the games "meaningless" and felt the number should be cut in half, and Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman also made several complaints about the length of the preseason. The main arguments against the four-game slate are the increased risk of injuries and the notion that coaches don't need that much time to set their rosters for the regular season.

The players aren't the only ones advocating for fewer contests.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy would like to see the preseason shortened to three games.

"I wouldn't be surprised if they go to three games," McCarthy said, via ESPN. "I think it makes a lot of sense. Then you could be a little more aggressive in that third game. Just take the fourth one out."

In February, Packers president Mark Murphy told reporters that the NFL competition committee has seriously discussed reducing the preseason to three games, though no formal changes have been made. At the owners meetings in March, there was a proposal to eliminate overtime in preseason games, but that was eventually voted down.

So, we still get to watch a month of exhibition games, giving football fans plenty of time to argue about position battles and make bold predictions that are sure to be wrong.

TV times have been set for eight national games so far. Here's the link to the complete schedule for your viewing pleasure, courtesy of the NFL (all times Eastern):

Hall of Fame Game (Aug. 7)

Green Bay vs. Indianapolis (ESPN, 8 p.m.)

Week 1 (Aug. 11-15)

Dallas at Los Angeles (ESPN, Aug. 13, 8 p.m.)
Carolina at Baltimore
Cleveland at Green Bay
Denver at Chicago
Detroit at Pittsburgh
Houston at San Francisco
Indianapolis at Buffalo
Jacksonville at NY Jets
Miami at NY Giants
Minnesota at Cincinnati
New Orleans at New England
Oakland at Arizona
San Diego at Tennessee
Seattle at Kansas City
Tampa Bay at Philadelphia
Washington at Atlanta

Week 2 (Aug. 18-22)

Arizona at San Diego
Atlanta at Cleveland
Baltimore at Indianapolis
Carolina at Tennessee
Chicago at New England
Cincinnati at Detroit
Kansas City at Los Angeles
Miami at Dallas
Minnesota at Seattle
New Orleans at Houston
NY Giants at Buffalo
NY Jets at Washington
Oakland at Green Bay
Philadelphia at Pittsburgh
San Francisco at Denver
Tampa Bay at Jacksonville

Week 3 (Aug. 25-28)

Atlanta at Miami (NBC, Aug. 25, 8 p.m.)
Cleveland at Tampa Bay (CBS, Aug. 26, 8 p.m.)
Tennessee at Oakland (CBS, Aug. 27, 8 p.m.)
San Diego at Minnesota (FOX, Aug. 28, 1 p.m.)
Arizona at Houston (FOX, Aug. 28, 4 p.m.)
Cincinnati at Jacksonville (NBC, Aug. 28, 8 p.m.)
Buffalo at Washington
Dallas at Seattle
Detroit at Baltimore
Green Bay at San Francisco
Kansas City at Chicago
Los Angeles at Denver
New England at Carolina
NY Giants at NY Jets
Philadelphia at Indianapolis
Pittsburgh at New Orleans

Week 4 (Sept. 1-2)

Baltimore at New Orleans
Buffalo at Detroit
Chicago at Cleveland
Denver at Arizona
Green Bay at Kansas City
Houston at Dallas
Indianapolis at Cincinnati
Jacksonville at Atlanta
Los Angeles at Minnesota
New England at NY Giants
NY Jets at Philadelphia
Pittsburgh at Carolina
San Francisco at San Diego
Seattle at Oakland
Tennessee at Miami
Washington at Tampa Bay