Last August, when the Seahawks played the Denver Broncos in the second preseason game, it looked and felt like a regular game – full of intensity and tempo and lots of scoring by the Seahawks.
As it turned out, it was a foreshadowing of the Super Bowl – almost down to the final score (40-10 in the preseason game and 43-8 in the championship contest).
As usual, the Seahawks will play the Broncos again next preseason, along with their other usual AFC West preseason foes, San Diego and Oakland.
Even though they will play those teams during the season, it is no surprise they will face them in the preseason as well. After all, the Hawks usually play their former AFC West rivals in the exhibition games because those are the geographically closest non-NFC West foes.
The weekend of Aug. 7-10, the Hawks will open in Denver. We won't see much of Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning and the teams' other stars, though.
Then Seattle will host the Chargers and Chicago Bears before finishing in Oakland on Aug. 28.
It is appropriate -- and perhaps planned – that the Hawks play the Bears in the third preseason game. That's the contest in which teams typically play their starters the longest, so it works well that the Hawks will not face any of the AFC West teams they are going to see during the season.
Those teams still will get a chance to see some of the personnel and plays of the Hawks – and vice versa – when they play but there won't be as much to learn from it.
The real schedule is expected to come out later this month, and then we will know when the Hawks will play their opponents and how many prime-time games they will have (probably five).
Since we already know who they will play, though, let's take a look at each opponent's offseason moves and project what they might do in the May 8-10 draft.
Key additions: SS Antoine Bethea, CB Chris Cook, OT Jonathan Martin.
Key losses: SS Donte Whitner, CB Carlos Rogers, CB Tarell Brown.
Offseason: The 49ers have spent the offseason dealing with reports of turmoil between coach Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke. They also reportedly have been preparing to give QB Colin Kaepernick a big extension, but they now have to deal with possible legal trouble in Miami. Beyond those distractions, the big change in the 49ers' roster so far has been a near total makeover in their secondary.
Draft: The 49ers are thought to be targeting a receiver or cornerback in the first round. They have 11 picks, including six in the first three rounds, so they have a chance to strengthen weak spots if they use them properly.
Can they beat the Hawks? They're still ostensibly Seattle's biggest threat to a second Super Bowl title. The Hawks blew out the Niners 29-3 in Seattle in Week 2 last season, but the Niners won by two in San Francisco and barely lost in the NFC title game. Their 2014 games should be big battles again.
Key additions: QB Shaun Hill, WR Kenny Britt, DE Alex Carrington.
Key losses: QB Kellen Clemens, CB Cortland Finnegan, OG Shelley Smith, OG Chris Williams.
Offseason: The Rams have a rough, physical defense, but they are still shaking up their offense and trying to build their line. They obviously hope to have QB Sam Bradford healthy for once, but they improved their backup situation with the addition of Hill.
Draft: The Rams have 12 picks, including No. 2 and No. 13 overall, and will be looking for help at receiver, on the O-line and in the secondary. They have the ammunition to put together a strong team that would make the powerhouse NFC West even stronger.
Can they beat the Hawks? They certainly beat up the Hawks nearly every time they play. Jeff Fisher's defense is a monster, but he needs to add punch to his offense if the Rams are going to score against Seattle (outscored 41-18 last season).
Key additions: OT Jared Veldheer, CB Antonio Cromartie, WR Ted Ginn, TE John Carlson, DL Frostee Rucker.
Key losses: LB Karlos Dansby, RB Rashard Mendenhall, CB Antoine Cason.
Offseason: The Cardinals put up 10 wins in Bruce Arians' first season and barely missed the playoffs. Losing Dansby to Cleveland was a big negative, and the defense will suffer because of it. The Cards also need to improve their running game after losing Mendenhall to retirement.
Draft: Kony Ealy is a popular pick for the Cardinals, who need pass-rush help. They could use O-linemen and a running back, too.
Can they beat the Hawks? They did last season, when they became the first team to beat Russell Wilson in Seattle. The Hawks' offense was horrendous in that game and Seattle lost despite picking off Carson Palmer four times. Prediction: If the Hawks pick him four times in 2014, they won't lose.
Key additions: DT Henry Melton, DE Jeremy Mincey.
Key losses: DE DeMarcus Ware, DT Jason Hatcher, C Phil Costa.
Offseason: The Cowboys still look like the same 8-8 team they have been for the past three years, with no apparent improvement. Salary cap problems seem likely to hamstring this team forever.
Draft: They have 11 picks, but six of them are in the seventh round. Hardly enough to get much better. They need help in the front seven, on the O-line and at receiver.
Can they beat the Hawks? Nope, especially in Seattle. And it won't even take a Tony Romo fumble on a field goal hold for the Hawks to take care of these guys.
Key additions: CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, OG Geoff Schwartz, DE Robert Ayers, CB Walter Thurmond, S Quentin Demps, RB Rashad Jennings, KR Trindon Holliday, WR Mario Manningham.
Key losses: DT Linval Joseph, WR Hakeem Nicks, DE Justin Tuck, RB Andre Brown, LB Keith Rivers.
Offseason: The Giants bolstered their secondary and beefed up their OL depth, but they need a No. 1 running back and help on both lines. Oh, and they need to figure out why Eli Manning (now slated for ankle surgery) was so terrible last season (league-high 27 interceptions).
Draft: The Giants have so many holes, they could go any direction and still not fix their problems, but they seem likely to grab a lineman of some kind in the first round and a running back soon after.
Can they beat the Hawks? The Giants started 0-6 but won seven of their final 10 games last season. Of course, one of those late losses was an embarrassing 23-0 shutout by the Seahawks. And that was in New York. What do you think will happen in Seattle?
Key additions: DE DeMarcus Ware, CB Aqib Talib, SS T.J. Ward, WR Emmanuel Sanders.
Key losses: WR Eric Decker, RB Knowshon Moreno, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, OG Zane Beadles, CB Champ Bailey, DE Jeremy Mincey, DE Robert Ayers, LB Wesley Woodyard.
Offseason: The Broncos lost a bunch of guys, but they added some injury-prone impact defenders as well in the hopes of beefing up their defense.
Draft: They could use more help on defense and on the offensive line.
Can they beat the Hawks? They might have improved their defense, but how does that help them score more than eight points against the Seahawks? They got a very slight taste in the Super Bowl of what it's like to play in front of the 12th Man; just wait until they are actually in Seattle.
Key additions: LB LaMarr Woodley, DE Justin Tuck, DE Antonio Smith, CB Carlos Rogers, OT Austin Howard, WR James Jones, RB Maurice Jones-Drew.
Key losses: DE Lamarr Houston, OT Jared Veldheer, CB Tracy Porter.
Offseason: The Raiders are loading up to save the jobs of GM Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen, but it would be surprising to see them turn a 4-12 unit into a playoff team. This is a franchise that has not been over .500 since its Super Bowl season of 2002.
Draft: The Raiders could go in any direction – QB, WR, OL, DL, LB. But it won't matter. They will be on to a new GM and coach in 2015.
Can they beat the Hawks? Only if the Hawks are even better hosts for them than they were for the 0-7 Bucs last season (Hawks overcame a 21-0 deficit at home to win in overtime).
Key additions: DE Julius Peppers.
Key losses: WR James Jones, FS M.D. Jennings, OT Marshall Newhouse.
Offseason: Other than adding Peppers, the Packers have sat tight as usual, re-signing players such as DT B.J. Raji, CB Sam Shields, LB Mike Neal, FB John Kuhn and RB James Stark. So, they are pretty much the same team that went 8-7-1 last year – except for the fact that QB Aaron Rodgers is healthy.
Draft: The Packers still need to improve their weak defense, whether along the front seven or at safety. They have nine picks with which to do it. They also could draft a replacement for injured free-agent TE Jermichael Finley.
Can they beat the Hawks? With Rodgers at the helm, of course. You can almost put it in ink that this Seattle game will be on Monday night, a rematch of that 2012 "MNF" game that ended so controversially. But if the work-in-progress Hawks won that one, it's pretty hard to see the Super Bowl champs losing this one.
Key additions: RB Darren Sproles, CB Nolan Carroll, FS Malcolm Jenkins, S Chris Maragos, QB Mark Sanchez.
Key losses: WR DeSean Jackson, QB Michael Vick.
Offseason: The Eagles kept the guys they wanted – OT Jason Peters, WR Riley Cooper,
C Jason Kelce and WR Jeremy Maclin – and let go of their deadweight. They also added Sproles, who joins LeSean McCoy to give Chip Kelly the same kind of speedy two-back attack he had at Oregon.
Draft: Most think the Eagles will look to replace Jackson with a receiver such as Marqise Lee, Odell Beckham or Kelvin Benjamin, but they might consider addressing their 29th-ranked defense.
Can they beat the Hawks? It's in Philly, which gives them a chance – if Kelly fixes his defense.
Key additions: WR DeSean Jackson, WR Andre Roberts, CB Tracy Porter, DT Jason Hatcher.
Key losses: CB Josh Wilson, TE Fred Davis, LB London Fletcher, DE Darryl Tapp.
Offseason: The Redskins have been perhaps the most active team in the league as they set the roster for new coach Jay Gruden. Before all of the above additions, they re-signed CB DeAngelo Hall, DE Chris Baker, LB Perry Riley and WR Santana Moss and franchised OLB Brian Orakpo. Dan Snyder is trying to get his franchise to the playoffs for just the fifth time since he bought it in 1999 (the last three times -- 2005, 2007, 2012 -- his club was knocked out by the Seahawks).
Draft: The Redskins are short a first-round pick due to their big 2012 trade to get QB Robert Griffin III, but in Round 2 they could look for help on the offensive line.
AT KANSAS CITY
Key additions: CB Chris Owens.
Key losses: OT Branden Albert, OG Jon Asamoah, DE Tyson Jackson, WR Dexter McCluster, CB Dunta Robinson.
Offseason: The Chiefs have had a quiet offseason and they certainly are not any better than they were last season, when they lost six of their last eight games, including a wild 45-44 loss to Indianapolis in the playoffs.
Draft: WR Brandin Cooks is a popular pick, but the Chiefs could use help on their offensive line and in their front seven.
Can they beat the Hawks? Not the way they played at the end of last season, when they couldn't beat San Diego, Denver or Indy. They're not on the Hawks' level.
AT SAN DIEGO
Key additions: RB Donald Brown, QB Kellen Clemens, CB Brandon Ghee.
Key losses: CB Derek Cox, QB Charlie Whitehurst.
Offseason: Other than re-signing LB Donald Butler, adding Brown and swapping backup QBs, the Chargers haven't done much. They certainly don't look any better than the team that finished third in the AFC West at 9-7 in 2013.
Draft: CB Kyle Fuller is a popular pick for a team that needs help in the secondary (the Chargers were 29th in pass defense in 2013).
Can they beat the Hawks? The Chargers are an average team capable of getting hot (they won their final four last season), but they just aren't in Seattle's league. And they certainly don't have much of a home-field advantage with that nonchalant San Diego crowd.
Key additions: WR Jerricho Cotchery, WR Jason Avant, SS Roman Harper, CB Antoine Cason.
Key losses: LT Jordan Gross, WR Steve Smith, WR Ted Ginn, WR Brandon LaFell, FS Mike Mitchell, CB Captain Munnerlyn.
Offseason: The big story is the Panthers parted with Smith, a talented head case who is past his prime. And all of their other receivers left, too, so they are building an entirely new corps for QB Cam Newton while also tweaking their secondary. On top of that, Newton had ankle surgery and is not expected to be ready until training camp, so he won't get any work in with his new receivers.
Draft: Receiver, receiver, receiver. The Panthers have none to speak of and will have to draft a few. Brandin Cooks and Davante Adams have been mentioned at No. 28, and Marquise Lee and Kelvin Benjamin could be options as well. They also need to replace Gross.
Can they beat the Hawks? Yes. Seattle escaped with a 12-7 victory in the 2013 season opener, which featured the two defenses that would finish 1-2 in the league and two teams that would combine for 25 wins. Next season's meeting figures to be another slugfest as the Panthers try to challenge the Hawks and 49ers (who beat Carolina in the playoffs last season).