In a new year with a new head coach and a mostly new coaching staff, the start of the Broncos' 2015 season will provide a dash of the familiar.
Three of the Broncos' four preseason opponents were on last year's warm-up slate, and the fourth, Arizona, came to Denver for a Week 5 game in the regular season and is the Broncos' most frequent preseason opponent this century.
The opener in Seattle -- to be played sometime between Aug. 13 and 17 -- will offer an immediate -- albeit brief -- litmus test for the first-team offense and defense against the two-time defending NFC champions and their aggressive defense and deceptive offense. This will mark the fifth consecutive preseason in which the former AFC West rivals meet.
This game will mark the ninth preseason clash since realignment shifted the Seahawks to the NFC West in 2002. The Broncos have won five of the previous eight meetings, although Seattle has claimed three of the last five.
With the announcement of the Broncos' preseason schedule, click through this gallery to see some of the star players
A trip to Houston follows on the weekend of Aug. 20-24,bringing Kubiak, a host of assistant coaches and players like tight end Owen Daniels and defensive end Antonio Smith back to the city in which they established their credentials in the NFL. The Texans visited Denver last summer for a memorable week of practices and a preseason game that was defined by Houston safety D.J. Swearinger's aggression and the stern test that Houston pass rushers J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney provided the Broncos' blocking scheme.
Houston and Denver met five times in the preseason between 2003 and 2008 before taking a five-year hiatus prior to last year's contest.
As far as preseason goes, there's history involved with the San Francisco 49ers, who visit Sports Authority Field at Mile High between Aug. 27 and 30. From 1984-2002, the clubs met in every preseason, and this will be the seventh preseason game in the 13 years that have followed.
The game will also be a duel of new head coaches with their clubs. But while Gary Kubiak and Jim Tomsula are new to their positions, they're familiar to their teams, with Kubiak spending nine seasons as a Broncos player and 11 seasons as a Broncos assistant, and Tomsula having eight seasons as a 49ers assistant, including one game as interim head coach to conclude the 2010 season.
This will be Kubiak's first home game as Broncos head coach, ensuring that three of the last five Broncos head coaches had their first home game against the 49ers.
Of course, this will also be the closest thing to a dress rehearsal for the regular season. The starters will go to at least halftime, as is always the case in the third preseason game.
The Cardinals will be the Broncos' last preseason opponent for the 10th time in the last 12 seasons when they visit on Sept. 3 or 4.Last year was one of the two exceptions in that span, as the Broncos traveled to Dallas.
Proximity drives the Broncos-Cardinals preseason series, as Arizona is the closest non-divisional team to Denver (a 602-mile flight). No team has been on the Broncos' preseason schedule more often since 2000; Denver has met Arizona 11 times in that span prior to this year, with the Broncos winning eight.