Over the last two weeks I have visited the Denver Broncos past to identify, in my opinion, some of the more memorable losses and victories the Broncos have been part of. This week, I put the past behind me and look ahead to the upcoming 2013 season. Rather than predict the outcome of these games, I have prioritized them from an entertainment value, or fan excitement level. Regarding divisional foes, I only included them once on the list even though the Broncos will play them twice (once at home; once on the road). I will say though, that if the Broncos can’t sweep every AFC West team, I want them to win at home, which would cause me to place those games higher. Enjoy the list!
1. Baltimore Ravens: Whether you watched the 2012 divisional playoff game on television or you sat at Mile High in the Arctic-like weather, this game must be high on any list. The Broncos have an opportunity to avenge their season ending loss, and also put a beat down on Joe Flacco, now the NFL’s highest paid player. I can’t imagine this game not being a Sunday or Monday night game!
2. New England Patriots: The Broncos travel to New England once again to face the consistently dominant New England Patriots. Recently, the Broncos have not been able to find the right formula to hand the Patriots a loss on their home turf. To be considered one of the elite teams in the league, the Broncos have to win these types of games. If one more battle between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady doesn’t get you excited, remember who the Offensive Coordinator is for New England – Josh McDaniels; the man who drove the Broncos into the ground in less than two years! That thought alone should get Bronco fans pumped for this game.
3. New York Giants: The Broncos travel to the location of Super Bowl XLVIII to face the NFC East New York Giants. The obvious story line that will dominate the week leading up to the kickoff of this game will be the battle of the Brothers – Eli Manning against his older brother, Peyton. I hope the Broncos win this one and don’t care much about the sibling rivalry; I’m more interested in the logistics of the trip, hoping the Broncos get another opportunity to visit New York again in early February of 2014 as AFC Champions.
4. Indianapolis Colts: It will be interesting to see what type of welcome the Colts fans give Peyton Manning. I would expect that Colts fans will be very pleasant toward Manning considering the type of person he appears to be, as well as the success he is responsible for in Indianapolis. This game could very well be billed as “the teacher and the student” given that Manning is on the verge of riding off into the sunset, while Andrew Luck is entering his second season. Let’s hope Manning and the Broncos force Luck and the Colts into a lesson on how to be a good loser.
5. San Diego Chargers: Ex-Bronco Offensive Coordinator, Mike McCoy, is now the head-coach of the Chargers and no doubt, he will have his new team fired up to play his old team. I would also expect the Chargers to be very willing to welcome the Broncos back to southern California for a chance to redeem themselves after they blew a 24 point, first half lead against the Broncos last season on Monday Night Football.
6. Oakland Raiders: Who doesn’t enjoy beating the Raiders?! Hopefully, the Broncos will do it twice in 2013! Former Bronco Defensive Coordinator, Dennis Allen, will most definitely have his Raiders ready to battle his old employer.
7. Kansas City Chiefs: Chief fans gave up on their team last year but that won’t be the case in 2013. Thanks to the addition of head-coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith, Chief fans will enter the season thinking their team is a legitimate Super Bowl contender. From the bottom of my orange-and-blue heart, I hope the Broncos bring them back down to earth each time they face each other in 2013!
8. Washington Redskins: Mike Shanahan returns to his old stomping grounds with the popular Robert Griffin III in tow. Don’t fool yourself; Shanahan would want nothing more than to stick it to Pat Bowlen and the entire the Denver Bronco organization for firing him after the 2008 season. Just think about all those times the Broncos faced the Raiders and the late Al Davis…. and how Shanahan wanted to beat them. True football fans will appreciate the talent RGIII brings to this inter-conference game.
9. Houston Texans: Another head-coach with Bronco ties gets a shot at his old team. This time it is Gary Kubiak, who served as a player and coach for the Broncos organization over a period of 20 years (9 years as a player, 11 year as a coach). The Broncos travel to Houston in 2013 and will hopefully hand a home loss to the Texans, which is what Houston did in 2012 when they beat the Broncos 31-25 in Denver.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Rumors indicate that Bronco fans will be able to watch the Broncos face “America’s Team” while they celebrate Thanksgiving with their families. The Broncos have played in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day two times and have won both games by a total of only five points. The Cowboys claim to be America’s Team but I would expect to see a few Bronco fans in Texas on November 28, 2013 – assuming this game is actually played on that date.
11. Jacksonville Jaguars: If the NFL schedule makers want to even this game out, they could send the Broncos down to Jacksonville the first month of the season meaning the Broncos possibly would have to play in high heat and high humidity. Jacksonville finished with a paltry record of 2-14 in 2012 so I would expect the Broncos to win this game easily. I also expected the Broncos to dispose of Baltimore in early January of this year and we know how that turned out. Fans may look past this game, but the Broncos cannot.
12. Tennessee Titans: Similar to Jacksonville, Nashville in September could be brutal so a late season trip to Tennessee would be more preferable. Similar to the Peyton Manning watch in Indianapolis, Titan fans attending this game may let Peyton hear their displeasure over the fact that he chose Colorado and the Broncos over Tennessee and the Titans. If you recall, Manning’s job shopping tour included a stop in Tennessee.
13. Philadelphia Eagles: Andy Reid is history (unless you live in Kansas City) and Chip Kelly is the new sheriff in Philadelphia. After a disastrous 2012 season that saw the Eagles finish 4-12 and in last place in the NFC East, Andy Reid was fired after fourteen seasons in Philadelphia. Chip Kelly was chosen as Reid’s replacement on January 16, 2013. Kelly’s new job, when compared to his old job (head-coach at University Oregon Ducks) is similar in the fact that the mascots and colors are similar. Unfortunately, that is where the similarities stop. Only time will tell how Kelly adapts to the professional game. When the Broncos travel to Philadelphia in 2013, I anticipate them making that transition very difficult for the new coach.
United in Orange!