The 2014 NFL Draft is right around the corner and the 2014 NFL schedule is a few weeks old – signs that the offseason is moving quite quickly. While the Denver Broncos are conducting voluntary workouts, and the Broncos leadership is preparing for the upcoming draft, this out-of-state Bronco season ticket holder is reviewing the Bronco schedule and attempting to determine which games to attend. In the absolutely perfect world, no planning whatsoever would be involved because not only would I attend all the home games, preseason included, I would not be considered an out-of-state season ticket holder. A crucial step I must complete is determining the premium home games because this a factor that will be considered when it comes to resale value and potential. For my list of the Bronco home games rated high to low when it comes to the marquee matchups, as well as a brief explanation on my possibly flawed rationale, please continue reading.
1. Indianapolis Colts (Week 1): While I briefly considered putting the three AFC West teams in the number one slot (because winning divisional games is so important), my heart told me the Colts get the honor. The clinching factor for me? This will be the first time the Broncos take the field in a meaningful game since their Super Bowl XLVIII debacle – the fans will be psyched and ready for a victory, and I am expecting the Bronco players to be extremely pumped. Throw in the fact that Peyton Manning gets another shot at his ex-employer (this time on his home turf), another shot at the “young and upcoming quarterback” who replaced him, and let’s not forget this game is on Sunday Night Football, closing out the week one NFL docket. While the NFL season is a marathon and not a sprint, the phrase “saving the best for last” comes to mind when I consider week one in 2014.
2. San Francisco 49ers (Week 7): Both of these teams are obviously preseason, Super Bowl contenders. Assuming both teams take care of business the first five weeks of the season, the talk leading up to this game will be a potential Super Bowl matchup. The NFL is already considering this, or hoping for it, because they have placed the game on Sunday Night Football. Not too bad for the Broncos to be on prime time for the second time in just six games. Unfortunately, following this game the Broncos have a short week of preparation due to fact that San Diego visits Denver the following Thursday.
3. San Diego Chargers (Week 8): Can you say payback? In 2013 the San Diego Chargers visited Denver in week fifteen on a Thursday night and went home with a 27-20 victory, almost putting a severe wrinkle in the Broncos playoff seeding. My gut tells me the team will use the 2013 game as a motivator and will come out better prepared than last year, despite the short week. I can’t speak for all fans, but prime time games, especially when they’re against AFC West teams, always get the blood boiling a bit more!
4. Kansas City Chiefs (Week 2): The Chiefs started off strong last year thanks to a somewhat soft schedule but as the second half of the season unfolded, the team came back to reality. The Chiefs visited Denver in week eleven and were handed their first loss of the season. While the Broncos went on to secure home-field advantage, the Chiefs lost four out of their last six games, not including the playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the wildcard round. Considering the Chiefs open up the 2014 campaign at home against the Tennessee Titans, I would expect the Chiefs to visit Denver undefeated once again, albeit only one victory instead of nine. Like last year, I hope the Broncos hand the Chiefs their first loss of the season!
5. Oakland Raiders (Week 17): If you don’t get fired up when the Raiders visit Denver you may want to consider what level of Bronco fan you really are! It’s the Raiders for crying out loud. The Raiders visit Denver to close out the regular season so this may be a meaningful game when it comes to determining the division winner, playoff seeding, and the most important home-field advantage. If things go well in 2014, the Broncos will be right in the thick of things; if the season doesn’t go well, the Broncos may be just playing out their schedule. It could happen, I hope not, but you never know. Either way, the Broncos are closing out their 45th season against the Oakland Raiders. Savor the moment Bronco fans, regardless of how the season went, and don’t waste your time on the Raider fans in attendance – it’s not worth it!
Note: Determining the bottom three of marquee home games became quite difficult, in my opinion. Not only did I have to consider the actual opponent, I also had to consider who the Broncos play before and/or after the next three opponents. While no game is a given in the NFL, I will say that the bottom three games are a total toss up! The Broncos do need to take care of Miami and Buffalo because they are AFC teams and those victories may be crucial when it’s time for the playoffs to begin.
6. Miami Dolphins (Week 12): Of the bottom three games, the Miami Dolphins get rated the highest because the Broncos will be coming off a three game road trip that includes the New England Patriots. After a three week hiatus, Bronco fans will be energized to have their Broncos back at home. Considering that week twelve is in late November, the boys from southern Florida may be greeted with some weather that is not what they consider to be normal. Like I stated, there are no ‘gimmes’ in the NFL so hopefully the Broncos can handle the Dolphins and perform well in front of the home crowd before heading off to Kansas City for another Sunday night showdown against the Chiefs in week thirteen.
7. Buffalo Bills (Week 14): Like week twelve and thirteen, the Broncos get a home game before traveling to face another AFC West team. This time it’s the Buffalo Bills visiting Denver a week before the Broncos travel to San Diego to face the Chargers. As I was authoring this post and considered the Buffalo Bills, a few games from the Broncos past against the Bills came to mind – all of them occurring in New York and not Colorado however. Who can forget the AFC Championship in 1992 when the Bills beat the Broncos 10-7; the 23-20 overtime victory in 1997 when the Broncos were delayed in Denver to a huge snowstorm, and lastly, the 40-14 blowout in 2011 when Tim Tebow had a terrible day on Christmas Eve, throwing three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Thank goodness the 2014 game in week fourteen between the Broncos and Bills will be at home! Unlike the Dolphins, the Bills may welcome a trip to Denver because believe it or not, the weather may be nicer in Colorado than upstate New York come early December.
8. Arizona Cardinals (Week 5): I may be totally off base on this one, but of all the home games for the Broncos this season, the game against the Arizona Cardinals easily locked up the number eight spot. To be quite honest, the preseason home opener against the Seattle Seahawks excites me more than the week five matchup against the Cardinals. Hopefully, the Broncos take the Cardinals more serious than I am but I’m just a fan – I can determine my decisions and thoughts using my heart and emotions more than the team can. One silver lining around this game may be the fact that it is being played on my favorite mother in-laws birthday. I am happy to report that thanks to a lot of effort on my part and hours of discussion, explanation, and down-right orange and blue brainwashing, my in-laws are now die-hard fans of Bronco football. That being said, I could see a potential Colorado trip with them, and my family, that would no doubt be centered around the Cardinals/Bronco game. When it gets right down to it, there is a side of me that doesn’t care who the Broncos play, I just love being in the stadium on game day and surrounded by 75,000 Bronco maniacs!
Tags: Denver Broncos