The Denver Broncos have the easiest schedule in the NFL, according to their opponents’ win-loss record (.430) from the 2012 season.
Really there isn’t a huge difference between the Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, who have the most difficult schedule in 2013 (opponents won .543 of their games in ’12). That’s because so many changes can be made to a roster, scheme, and front office in the off season that teams who were at the bottom of the well the year before can reemerge as Super Bowl contenders. Look no further than John Fox’s old team. The Panthers went 7-9 in ’02 (they went 1-15 the year before) to 11-5 and the NFC Champions in ’03.
While the Broncos have the “easiest” schedule, their final four of six regular season games are on the road.
To make up for that, the team has a very easy start to the season, not so much opponent wise, but timing wise.
The Broncos get ten days to prepare for the Giants after their week one win against the Ravens. After that, they have eight days to get ready to host the Raiders on Monday Night Football. All that time between games at the beginning of the season is invaluable.
Remember, players are still getting used to giving and taking hits since so much of that is limited during training camp (thanks to the new CBA) and in preseason where starters see no more than one half of action in any one game. The ability to recover is just as important as talent itself in a league where players often claim that they feel as though they were in a car crash the day after a game.
“Obviously our bodies get to heal and things like that but we get an extra day of film so we get to prepare a little bit more in the film room and get to study our opponent a little bit more. I think its advantage,” safety Duke Ihenacho said.
“I took full advantage of my break and I’m pretty sure the other guys did too by getting a massage, getting body work, different things like that,” Shaun Phillips added.
The extended time to recover and prepare for the upcoming opponents helps players like Champ Bailey (foot) and Joel Dreessen (knee), who didn’t play at all in week one. It also helps Wesley Woodyard, Omar Boldin, and Trindon Holliday recover from their aches and pains. All three were held out of Monday’s practice, even after a full weekend off.
The Broncos’ schedule is clearly in their favor from many perspectives. It’s up to them to handle their business.