There was no NFL preseason in 2020 due to COVID, but per previous years the 2021 exhibition slate will kick off with the Hall of Fame Game from Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Thursday, Aug. 5. The first odds I've seen for the game/Week 1 are out, and the Pittsburgh Steelers opened as 1-point favorites over the Dallas Cowboys. The total is set at a miniscule 34 points, but that's not unusual for this game.
Because Pittsburgh and Dallas are playing in that matchup, they each will have four preseason games and will be allowed to report to training camp before all other teams – both Wednesday. Also remember that the Cowboys are featured this summer on HBO's "Hard Knocks."
Each team has played in the Hall of Fame Game six times and each is 3-3. Dallas last was in it in 2017 and beat Arizona 20-18. Pittsburgh last was in the game in 2015 and lost 14-3 to Minnesota. These teams haven't played each other in the preseason since 2003. They faced off last regular season in Arlington, Texas, and the Steelers won 24-19 in Week 9 – outscoring the Cowboys 15-0 in the fourth quarter.
Even with the preseason cut down by a game for all teams, you will not see any starters on Aug. 5 – starters on most teams probably only play a half in Week 2 if at all (unless there's a QB battle like in New Orleans). And don't expect much offense for Cowboys-Steelers as none of the past five Hall of Fame Games have even reached 40 combined points scored.
Dallas also visits Arizona and hosts Houston and Jacksonville this preseason, while Pittsburgh visits Philadelphia, hosts Detroit and is at Carolina.
It's the first preseason game as Dallas coach for Mike McCarthy since the 2020 exhibition slate was wiped out. Pittsburgh is 31-23 in preseason games under Mike Tomlin. McCarthy is +2500 at William Hill Sportsbook to win 2021 NFL Coach of the Year and Tomlin is +3000.
Full NFL Preseason Schedule (times could change)
Aug. 5 -- Hall of Fame Game
Pittsburgh (-1) vs. Dallas, 8 p.m. (Fox)
Thursday, Aug. 12
Washington (-2.5) at New England, 7:30 p.m. (NFL Network)
Pittsburgh at Philadelphia (-1), 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 13
Tennessee (-1) at Atlanta, 7 p.m.
Buffalo (-2.5) at Detroit, 7 p.m. (NFL Network)
Dallas at Arizona (-2.5), 10 p.m. (NFL Network)
Saturday, Aug. 14
Miami at Chicago (-3), 1 p.m. (NFL Network)
Denver at Minnesota (-1.5), 4 p.m. (NFL Network)
New Orleans at Baltimore (-2.5), 7 p.m.
Cleveland (-4) at Jacksonville, 7 p.m. (NFL Network)
New York Jets at New York Giants (-1.5), 7:30 p.m.
Cincinnati at Tampa Bay (-6), 7:30 p.m.
Houston at Green Bay (-3), 8 p.m.
Kansas City at San Francisco (-1.5), 8:30 p.m.
Seattle at Las Vegas (-1.5), 9 p.m.
Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5) at Los Angeles Rams, 10 p.m. (NFL Network)
Sunday, Aug. 15
Carolina at Indianapolis (-2), 1 p.m. (NFL Network)
Thursday, Aug. 19
New England at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. (NFL Network)
Friday, Aug. 20
Kansas City at Arizona, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Cincinnati at Washington, 8 p.m. (NFL Network)
Saturday, Aug. 21
Buffalo at Chicago, 1 p.m. (NFL Network)
New York Jets at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m. (NFL Network)
Baltimore at Carolina, 7 p.m.
Atlanta at Miami, 7 p.m.
Detroit at Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m. (NFL Network)
Tennessee at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Houston at Dallas, 8 p.m.
Indianapolis at Minnesota, 8 p.m.
Las Vegas at Los Angeles Rams, 10 p.m. (NFL Network)
Denver at Seattle, 10 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 22
New York Giants at Cleveland, 1 p.m. (NFL Network)
San Francisco at Los Angeles Chargers, 7:30 p.m. (NFL Network)
Monday, Aug. 23
Jacksonville at New Orleans, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Friday, Aug. 27
Indianapolis at Detroit, 7 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Carolina, 7:30 p.m.
Philadelphia at New York Jets, 7:30 p.m.
Minnesota at Kansas City, 8 p.m. (NFL Network)
Saturday, Aug. 28
Green Bay at Buffalo, 1 p.m. (NFL Network)
Baltimore at Washington, 6 p.m.
Chicago at Tennessee, 7 p.m. (NFL Network)
Tampa Bay at Houston, 8 p.m.
Arizona at New Orleans, 8 p.m.
Los Angeles Rams at Denver, 9:05 p.m.
Los Angeles Chargers at Seattle, 10 p.m. (NFL Network)
Sunday, Aug. 29
Jacksonville at Dallas, 1 p.m. (NFL Network)
Miami at Cincinnati, 4 p.m. (CBS)
Las Vegas at San Francisco, 4 p.m. (NFL Network)
New England at New York Giants, 6 p.m. (NFL Network)
Cleveland at Atlanta, 8 p.m. (NBC)
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