So, I was planning on revisiting the Denver Broncos 2013 season and recapping some of the games but I need this past season to simmer a bit longer considering the Super Bowl debacle still brings up anger and frustration. While I am coming to grips with a huge opportunity missed by the Broncos in 2013, please continue reading to look ahead at the 2014 season and the opponents the Broncos will face.
Obviously, the Broncos will face each AFC West team two times in 2014; once at home and once on the road. In 2013 the Broncos went 5-1 against the AFC West, sweeping the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders but splitting with the San Diego Chargers. Kansas City, San Diego, and Oakland went 24-24 in 2013. The Chiefs took second in the division finishing two games behind the eventual AFC Champions, San Diego was third at 9-7, and Oakland finished last at 4-12 for the second consecutive year. Andy Reid returns to Kansas City and Mike McCoy to San Diego for their sophomore campaigns, after reaching the playoffs in their freshman year. Dennis Allen returns for his third year as the Raiders coach and it certainly appears this may be his last chance to turn the black-and-silver ship around. I would expect the division title to come down to the Broncos, Chiefs, and Chargers once again but you never know. A difference from 2013 will be the strength of schedule in 2014. See below for each AFC West team’s strength of schedule for last season, and the upcoming season – it has basically been flipped!
|2013||Opp. Win %||Opp. Wins-Losses||NFL Rank|
|2014||Opp. Win %||Opp. Wins-Losses||NFL Rank|
Outside the AFC West, the Broncos will welcome the Buffalo Bills, the Miami Dolphins, the Arizona Cardinals, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Indianapolis Colts to Mile High Stadium. Marquee games will obviously be the Chiefs, 49ers, and Colts. Revenge may be on the mind of Peyton Manning (assuming he returns for a third season with the Broncos) when Andrew Luck and the Colts visit Denver. My assumption is that the 49ers and Colts game may possibly be nationally televised prime time events.
In addition to road trips to Kansas City, San Diego, and Oakland, the Broncos will visit the New England Patriots, the New York Jets, the St. Louis Rams, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Cincinnati Bengals. In my mind, the NFL has an easy decision when considering which Bronco road games to air in prime time. Obviously, the Patriots and Seahawks games would be huge ratings so my guess is the discussions will be somewhat heated between the league, CBS, ESPN, and NBC to see who can air these contests. While players don’t focus on revenge games as much as players, I know Bronco fans will be looking forward to the games against Seattle and New England. Like John Elway said at his season ending press conference, “you never get over a Super Bowl loss, you just add it to the list” – for that very reason, I would love to see Denver knock off the Seahawks in front of their “12th Man”. That will be a very difficult task, just like it will be going to Foxborough, MA for the third year in a row. The previous two trips to Foxborough resulted in losses with last year’s being very difficult to accept considering the Broncos fell apart in the second half and blew a 24-0 halftime lead, ultimately losing 34-31 in overtime!
If the Broncos want to win their fourth consecutive division title and have another shot at a Super Bowl appearance they will definitely have an uphill battle in 2014 but it will make for great entertainment. Nine of the Broncos games in 2014 will be against teams that made the playoffs in 2013. Of those nine games, four will be in Denver, and five will be on the road.
An NFL team can appear in prime time five times, with a possible sixth appearance possible due to the flexible scheduling that starts in week eleven. I fully expect the Broncos to be one of the teams that fall into this category given their popularity, their success in 2013, and the opponents on the docket in 2014. Bronco fans rest up, because 2014 will be quite the ride!