Our long national nightmare ends Thursday, Aug. 3 when the Cardinals and Cowboys kick off the 2017 preseason. Arizona and Dallas end a six-month NFL drought when they meet in the Hall of Fame Game.

They’ll hope to redeem the prestige of the league’s annual preseason opener by actually playing the game this summer. The annual matchup was canceled last August after the sweltering Ohio weather turned the turf to a sticky gel that was deemed unsafe for play. That limited the Packers and Colts to only four exhibition games in 2016.

The consequences were dire. Green Bay needed 10 games to get their season back on track. Indianapolis never recovered, slumping to 8-8 and missing the playoffs for the second straight year.

The league’s preseason slate will begin in earnest seven days later. Week 1 of proper exhibition action will be relegated to local broadcasts, but features matchups between postseason contenders like the Steelers and Giants or the Falcons and Dolphins. It will also play host to the Chargers’ first game in Los Angeles, when Philip Rivers faces off against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks — for a few series, at least.

Week 2 brings the game back to national television, and it’s clear ESPN understands what American football fans watch: heaping helpings of the Browns and Jaguars. Buccaneers-Jags and Giants-Browns will both earn broadcast slots on the Worldwide Leader, while games like Falcons-Steelers, Patriots-Texans, and Washington-Packers failed to make the cut.

Five games earned the call to nationwide status the following week as America’s networks prepare for the sport that turns Sundays from a syndication graveyard to ratings bonanza. They aren’t especially compelling, but still better than 90 percent of the league’s Thursday Night Football matchups.

They include:

Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks (CBS, 8 p.m.) Friday, Aug. 25

Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams (CBS, 8 p.m.) Saturday, Aug. 26

Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans (FOX, 1 p.m.) Sunday, Aug. 27

Cincinnati Bengals at Washington (FOX, 4:30 p.m.) Sunday, Aug. 27

San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings (NBC, 8 p.m.) Sunday, Aug. 27

Week 4, the final chance for undrafted free agents and other fringe rookies to make a regular season roster, closes out the preseason with a Giants-Patriots Super Bowl rematch and a Seahawks-Raiders battle for West Coast supremacy.

The preseason is mostly an opportunity for teams to gauge fringe roster players and get veterans warmup reps before regular games begin. However, last year’s exhibition standings reflected well on the final results.

Of the 10 teams to finish the 2016 preseason in contention, five wound up in the playoffs. Last year’s Super Bowl participants, the Patriots and Falcons, each went 3-1 in games that didn’t count for anything. Conversely, the Ravens, Eagles, and Vikings all went 4-0 and missed the postseason entirely.

The 2017 preseason will be the first opportunity to see the league’s newest class of rookies take to the field. The Browns will have the chance to show off Myles Garrett (that is, unless they buck a near universal sentiment to take the freak pass rusher). Potential first-round quarterbacks Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer, and Patrick Mahomes will all earn their first snaps this August.

Now that the schedule is out, they’re one step closer to figuring out when.

Here’s the schedule in full, courtesy of the NFL.

2017 preseason week-by-week schedule

WEEK 1: AUG. 10-14

Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins

Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams

Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions at Indianapolis Colts

Houston Texans at Carolina Panthers

Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots

Minnesota Vikings at Buffalo Bills

New Orleans Saints at Cleveland Browns

Oakland Raiders at Arizona Cardinals

Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers

Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants

San Francisco 49ers at Kansas City Chiefs

Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Chargers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals

Tennessee Titans at New York Jets

Washington at Baltimore Ravens

WEEK 2: AUGUST 17-21

Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers

Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins

Buffalo Bills at Philadelphia Eagles

Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans

Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals

Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers

Green Bay Packers at Washington

Indianapolis Colts at Dallas Cowboys

Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals

Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Raiders

Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks

New England Patriots at Houston Texans

New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Chargers

New York Giants at Cleveland Browns

New York Jets at Detroit Lions

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Jacksonville Jaguars

WEEK 3: AUGUST 24-27

Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers at Jacksonville Jaguars

Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans

Cincinnati Bengals at Washington

Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos

Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints

Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers

Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks

Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins at Philadelphia Eagles

New England Patriots at Detroit Lions

New York Jets at New York Giants

Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys

San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings

WEEK 4: AUG. 31-SEPT. 1

Arizona Cardinals at Denver Broncos

Baltimore Ravens at New Orleans Saints

Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts

Cleveland Browns at Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys at Houston Texans

Detroit Lions at Buffalo Bills

Jacksonville Jaguars at Atlanta Falcons

Los Angeles Chargers at San Francisco 49ers

Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers

Miami Dolphins at Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants at New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers at Carolina Panthers

Seattle Seahawks at Oakland Raiders

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs

Washington at Tampa Bay Buccaneers