Gruden's return among must-see preseason games

With the NFL announcing the 2018 preseason slate on Wednesday, it's time to daydream of football games -- however insignificant -- returning gloriously to our lives.

Let's take a gander at some of the better games on the preseason docket, which runs throughout August:

1. Return of the Gruden


Detroit Lions at Oakland Raiders -- Preseason Week 1

"The prod-...the prodigal...my son returns..." -- Michael Scott

Jon Gruden's first game back on the sideline after a nine-year sabbatical in the TV booth will be met with the gusto of a rock band returning to tour. Placing Gruden's return in Oakland will make the hoopla even more grandiose. Sure, the first preseason game will tell us little to nothing about what the future holds for the 2018 Raiders, but having Chucky back in action will boost hope for a new beginning.

2. A New Hope


Cleveland Browns at New York Giants -- Preseason Week 1

If both the Browns and Giants stand pat with their first choices in the NFL draft later this month, this matchup will feature the top two picks in 2018 taking the field together. Might we see two future franchise signal-callers on the same gridiron? The opening week faceoff will certainly lead to myriad one-to-one comparisons between the top two players picked.

3. Revenge of the QBs


Minnesota Vikings at Denver Broncos -- Preseason Week 1; Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns -- preseason Week 2

Tyrod Taylor faces off against the team that wanted to jettison him for more than a year. Case Keenum hosts the team that believes it upgraded at his position. Toss in the fact that Keenum and Kirk Cousins debut with their new teams on the same field and you've got yourself an enticing storyline. Taylor could also be battling the No. 1 overall pick for the starting gig. Preseason is little more than a walkthrough for starting quarterbacks, but if you don't think at there is at least a little bit of residual bitterness in the bones of Taylor and Keenum after they were cast aside following playoff berths, you're underestimating the competitive edge NFL players harness daily.

4. The Empire Strikes Back


Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots -- Preseason Week 2

Well, duh, no amount of revenge in the preseason would make up for a Super Bowl loss. That doesn't mean watching the reigning conference champions duke it out is worthless. Both Bill Belichick and Howie Roseman have retooled their squads this offseason to make another run at the Lombardi Trophy. How will those new pieces mesh? We could also get the nascent return of Carson Wentz to the playing field after his ACL tear last season.

5. The Bears Offense Awakens?


Kansas City Chiefs at Chicago Bears -- Preseason Week 3

After hibernating for the entirety of John Fox's reign, Chicago fans hope an offensive awakening occurs under new coach Matt Nagy and second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Nagy welcomes his mentor, Andy Reid, and former players to Solider Field this preseason. Clearly, Nagy won't unleash his entire playbook, but the Bears should be far enough along in the process to show signs of life by Week 3. Add the fact that Patrick Mahomes will be slinging it in his regular-season tune-up and you've got a surplus of reasons watch. Plus, it's the third game of the preseason, and as the late, great Dennis Green famously stated about the third game of the preseason: