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With the NFL's announcement of the preseason game schedule, the Denver Broncos' 2015-16 season is starting to feel real. Hallelujah!

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country!

The NFL announced team preseason schedules yesterday, and that of course prompts predictions, speculations, accusations (maybe even burninations?)

I'm not one for predictions - other than 19-0 baby! (duh) - but I can't help get a little excited about these preseason match-ups. I know it's only preseason...but it's also preSEASON. And that means regular season just four weeks later, so the fact that we are talking about anything game-related is cool.

And also, I kind of really like the teams in our preseason schedule.

Seattle SeahawksFirst up:

I know Peyton Manning and the first-team offense will be in this game for one or only a few series, and our defense will be pretty vanilla even when the backups are in, but still, it is the Seahawks, and that makes it a rivalry game on so many levels:

  • Good v. Evil
  • Pocket Passer v. Mobile QB
  • Emmanuel Sanders and his five-mile smile v. Marshawn "I'm just here so I won't get fined" Lynch
  • Chris Harris, Jr. (the actual best cornerback in the NFL) v. Richard Sherman (the self-proclaimed best cornerback in the history of everything.)
  • And of course, let's not forget Broncos fans v. 12th Man. Road trip, anyone?

It will be more than a year removed from SB48, which means we should avoid "Super Bowl Rematch" media hype (a girl can dream, right?), but this is a rivalry game. I love that we open with the Seahawks again, and I don't even care that it's in Seattle. The Broncos need to learn how to get fired up for away games, and rivalry teams are great for that.

Both teams will be rusty, stars won't get much action, but it's awesome to have an adversarial game first. Plus, it will also be good for Brock Osweiler and the other backups to experience playing in a hostile environment. We should find out right away how much our "kicking and screaming" has improved.

Houston Texans - Going home again:

This one should be fun as long as our coaching staff remembers its players now wear orange and blue (and that unfortunately No. 99 is not on our side). Though, maybe J.J. Watt will get confused and just come to our bench anyway. I'm sure Manning would be OK with that.

Aside from the semi-homey feeling for the coaches (who were booted out before last season, so maybe not), this matchup is likely to be high intensity.

Remember last year's preseason contest in Denver? Manning was sacked on the first drive and then was intercepted after a misread by Emmanuel Sanders. But then No. 18 connected with Sanders in the second quarter for a 67-yard touchdown and also got his first-ever taunting penalty over a few words exchanged with D.J. Swearinger. It was a fun game.

For the entertainment factor alone, this game has "awesome" all over it. But for other real reasons, it will be the second great test for our offensive line. I'm really looking forward to seeing how Gary Kubiak's offense - particularly the Big Uglies - responds to the onslaught from Watt and Co.

I'm betting much better than last year.

San Francisco 49ersThis is no sea-level game:

There are two big reasons I'm going to really look forward to this game - Cody. Latimer.

OK, so that's one reason (but two words). But the way Latimer nailed Antoine Bethea in last year's preseason game was so impressive, I'm counting it as two.

Latimer_concusses_bethea_medium

In this Mile High preseason home opener, I'm hoping to see a lot of production from Latimer. By the third preseason contest, starters stay in most of the first half, and I'm expecting Latimer to have some solid connections with good ol' Rocky Top.

And of course, this team will be an excellent test for the new 3-4 defense as it attempts to contain Colin Kaepernick's happy feet. As for the Niners' declining defensive stature, this game better show our offense firing on several cylinders at this point in the preseason.

Arizona CardinalsHome Sweet Home:

Ranked as the ninth-best overall defense last year and the fourth-best pass defense, the Cardinals will no doubt give Denver's offense fits again ... even at home.

And if Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer is fully recovered from his ACL surgery last year, his powerful arm will definitely stretch our defenders and provide Broncos plenty of opportunity to see where they stand in the safety position.

Broncos 2015 opponents
Home Away
NE New England Patriots IND @ Indianapolis Colts
BAL Baltimore Ravens PIT @ Pittsburgh Steelers
CIN Cincinnati Bengals CLE @ Cleveland Browns
GB Green Bay Packers CHI @ Chicago Bears
MIN Minnesota Vikings DET @ Detroit Lions
OAK Oakland Raiders OAK @ Oakland Raiders
SD San Diego Chargers @ San Diego Chargers
KC Kansas City Chiefs KC @ Kansas City Chiefs

Regular season predictions

Ha! Just kidding.

I'm not predicting any W-L records until I'm forced to via staff posts, but I have been inspired to translate my non-stat-related predictions into poetic prose.

Well, more like, into something silly that occasionally rhymes:

First the very simple acrostic:

ben garlanD

cody latimEr

oweN daniels

Virgil green

louis vasquEz

demaRcus ware

gary kuBiak

von milleR

demaryius thOmas

peyton manNing

Chris harris jr

cj andersOn

emmanuel Sanders

And my all-time favorite - the limerick:

Thank you Elway and the Broncos brass,

Unlike the Patriots, we have some class.

Gary Kubiak is our man,

Bringing to Denver a new game plan.

And the Seattle Seahawks can kiss my ass!


Followed by the cinquain (2-4-6-8-2):

And what poetry collection wouldn't have Haiku or a 'Roses are Red' adaptation? (thanks, Scotty Payne!)


Horse Tracks

Polamalu retires from football - heraldstandard.com
Troy Polamalu called Dan Rooney last night to inform him he was retiring from football.The Steelers had asked Polamalu to retire in February, but he resisted until the realization came upon him in church this week, the Holy Week of the Greek Orthodox Church.

NFL reacts on Twitter to Troy Polamalu's retirement - NFL.com
Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu announced his retirement after 12 seasons with the team on Thursday. See how members of the NFL community reacted on Twitter to the news.

2015 NFL preseason schedule - NFL.com
The NFL's slate of eight nationally televised preseason games will feature five 2014 playoff teams, including the NFC champion Seahawks, one of the highlights of the 2015 NFL preseason schedule announced Thursday.

Nine preseason games to watch - NFL.com
The NFL announced its preseason schedule on Thursday. Marc Sessler offers his top nine games, including a Tom Brady-Aaron Rodgers rematch from last season.

Broncos will start offseason program with much turnover among pass-catchers - Denver Broncos Blog - ESPN
The Broncos had three pass-catchers named to the Pro Bowl last season and just one of them will be in attendance when they start offseason workouts.

FSU's Cameron Erving pick for Broncos in Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock - Denver Broncos Blog - ESPN
When it comes to his fourth mock draft of the run-up to this year.

Broncos' preseason slate features a quartet of familiar foes
Each team on the Broncos' summer docket was on the 2014 schedule for the regular season, preseason, or, in two cases, both.

Broncos star Von Miller doesn't seem fazed by anything - Yahoo Sports
Unlike a year ago when he was coming off a torn ACL, Von Miller doesn't seem to have a single care. He was doubted the first season he came here,'' Miller said of Manning, who contemplated retirement this offseason after an injury-marred slide to end 2014. I feel totally confident in what he's going to be able to do and the type of Peyton that we're going to see this year.''

Hochman: Von Miller is humble and driven, wanting to grade out highest - The Denver Post
If Von Miller isn't one of Denver's three best players next season, next season might end like last season.

Broncos' Von Miller is better able to get work in this offseason - The Denver Post
Von Miller, who spent the offseason training vigorously, said he's excited about the Broncos' newcomers and prospects for 2015.

Von Miller: Broncos need Peyton Manning to win title - NFL.com
Von Miller understands the importance Peyton Manning will play in any success the Denver Broncos have in 2015. The star defender believes with Manning back, the Broncos could bring a Lombardi back to Mile High.

Broncos Ben Garland on switching from Air Force to NFL: I dreamed about being a pilot since I was a little kid.
Denver Bronco Ben Garland tells The Sports Show’s Woody Paige and Les Shapiro why he switched careers from being a pilot to an NFL player.

What we learned from Mike Mayock's updated rankings - NFL.com
QB Marcus Mariota moved ahead of Jameis Winston in the latest update of NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock's position rankings. See what other changes Mayock made three weeks before the draft.

Pittsburgh Steelers' Le'Veon Bell facing suspension - NFL.com
Le'Veon Bell is staring at the possibility of missing the first three games of the 2015 NFL season. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers running back is facing a three-game suspension.

Legend and Legacy: The first 'Orange Sunday'
The first time the Broncos and their fans were truly 'united in orange' goes back to 1971, thanks to one enterprising group of fans.

Is Owen Daniels The Key To the Broncos' Success in 2015?
When Julius Thomas packed up his bags and hit the road, he left a gaping hole in the Denver Broncos offense. Owen Daniels will now attempt to fill the void.