NFL Preseason Preview - Seattle (0-0) at Denver (0-0)
By John McMullen, NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - You can't call it a revenge game but the Denver Broncos sure want to show up this time.
The Broncos will open their preseason slate at home for the first time in 17 years Thursday when they host the Seattle Seahawks in a rematch from Super Bowl XLVIII.
The Seahawks defeated the Broncos 43-8 in MetLife Stadium back in February, the third largest point differential in the big game's history, and the largest since Super Bowl XXVII.
Denver was always going to be a serious threat to get back to the big one as long as five-time MVP Peyton Manning returned, but by "winning" free agency, the Broncos have seemingly lapped an AFC field they were already dominating.
John Elway's handiwork in free agency resulted in a haul which not only placed wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders in the Rocky Mountains but also high-profile defensive targets like pass rusher DeMarcus Ware, shutdown cornerback Aqib Talib and ascending young safety T.J. Ward.
The Broncos obviously have quite an array of offensive weapons and Sanders, a free agent pickup from Pittsburgh, will be asked to hit the ground running and help replace the production of the departed Eric Decker, who signed with the New York Jets after hauling in 87 receptions for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.
On the other side Elway really fortified Jack Del Rio's defense by adding Ware, Talib and Ward along with first-round cornerback Bradley Roby.
Of the four keep an eye on Ware, one of this generation's best pure pass rushers, who could prove reborn opposite fellow rushing stalwart Von Miller, who is returning after an injury-plagued year.
For Seattle it's all about avoiding the Super Bowl hangover and Pete Carroll and Co. figure to be searching for the aspirin on more than one occasion this year.
The first headache has been Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch, who was wrangling for a new contract in an era where fewer and fewer running backs are getting big money.
Lynch ended a week-long holdout on July 31 despite not receiving any extra money on the four-year extension he signed in 2012, according to reports.
On the field, the reigning Super Bowl champs are loaded everywhere you look with one notable exception, the offensive line. The one real weakness in Seattle is with the big uglies, and that was before the team lost Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan in free agency.
To help fortify things up front, the world champs added a pair of veterans in recent days, inking tackle and NFLPA president Eric Winston, as well as guard Wade Smith. They join rookie offensive tackle Justin Britt, a second-round pick, as players who could be in the mix.
The Seahawks lost two defensive lineman from their dominant defense, Chris Clemons and Red Bryant, but added veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams. Williams is 33 but the five-time All-Pro should still have some gas left in the tank, especially as a rotational player on a deep front.
"I think if I'm playing 500 plays versus 700 plays at this age I can definitely still get after the quarterback," Williams said. "It's an awesome chance to get in and play a limited number of snaps and maximize the ability I have."
The Broncos have generally gotten the best of Seattle in preseason play, amassing an 8-3 mark in 11 previous meetings.
08/05 16:10:14 ET