It is so vital for an NFL team to win their home games. In addition to ending the regular season 8-0 at home, a team must also manage to win at least half of their road games if they want a realistic shot at a division championship and/or a playoff spot. Anything less would definitely put them at risk of not earning a spot in the annual tournament that is held to see which team will win the Lombardi Trophy. The Denver Broncos not only have a difficult home schedule in 2014, they have a difficult slate of games ahead of them when it’s time to leave the state of Colorado, considering that six out of the last nine regular season games are away from home. Please continue reading for my perspective on each game, as well a rating from high to low, for each of the Broncos eight road trips they have in 2014.
- Seattle Seahawks (Week 3): Rating the Broncos trip to the great northwest number one was a no-brainier considering what transpired the last time these two teams met. While this week three regular season game will have a lot less at stake than Super Bowl XLVIII, the stakes will still be high, for the players, as well as the fans. A Bronco victory will give a bit of relief to Bronco fans considering how difficult Super Bowl Sunday was to endure, while a Bronco loss will be an early setback in a young season considering Seattle is one of the elite teams in the league. The first road trip of the year couldn’t be at a more difficult place than Seattle, home of The Twelfth Man. No doubt, Seahawk fans will be primed and ready, hoping their Seahawks can put another beating on the broncos reminiscent of the Super Bowl.
- Kansas City Chiefs (Week 13): Arrowhead Stadium is a loud venue; usually a bit louder when the Broncos visit given the rivalry that has formed between these two teams over the last three decades. To add a bit more fuel to the fire, the NFL has put this AFC West battle on Sunday Night Football, which will no doubt raise the decibel level a bit more inside Arrowhead, so that will be another obstacle the Broncos have to overcome to escape with a victory. While a win will not be easy, the Broncos have managed to beat Kansas City in their home stadium the last three seasons. The Broncos must be ready – Kansas City has seen the Broncos success over the years and their rise to power and want to take some of it away I’m sure.
- New England Patriots (Week 9): Recently it seems that a season is not complete for the Broncos without a trip east to face the mighty and powerful New England Patriots. There shouldn’t be a shortage of motivation for either team considering they met in the 2013 AFC Championship in Denver that saw the Broncos defeat the Patriots 26-16. If Denver needs anymore motivation, all they have to do is watch a replay of last year’s regular season trip to Foxborough. Denver built a 24-0 halftime lead only to see it evaporate and then ultimately lose in overtime 34-31. I am really surprised the league didn’t put this game in a prime time slot considering the teams and the quarterback; Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will go head-to-head for the 16th time in their careers. Considering both players are in their late-30′s, this could likely be their last battle against each other. Quarterback rivalry aside, the Broncos road trip to New England starts a three week stretch where they will be away from Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.
- San Diego Chargers (Week 15): To be honest with you, after identifying the top three road games above, the remaining five games were kind of a tossup. Of these five games, San Diego gets the first rating because they are an AFC West team, and let’s face it, I love to see the Broncos win and Philip Rivers lose. Another reason I put the Chargers as the fourth rated road game is because the Broncos have a bit of payback or revenge to enact from the 2013 season. If you recall, the Chargers came to Denver in week 15 last season and beat the Broncos 27-20, putting a potentially severe wrinkle in the Broncos quest for home field advantage in the playoffs. Fortunately, the Broncos acquired home field advantage in the end, but that doesn’t mean I can’t hope for a bit of revenge in week 15. After all, last season’s home loss occurred on Thursday Night Football – national television! Like week 15 in 2013, I hope history repeats itself and the visiting team in this AFC west rivalry in week 15 of 2014 wins also!
- Oakland Raiders (Week 10): Following the week nine matchup against New England in the eastern United States, the Broncos head west to face the Raiders. Even though the season will be just past the half-way point, the Broncos and Raiders will be playing each other for the first time in week ten. Like the Chargers game I rated as fourth in Bronco road games, this is a crucial game for the Broncos because it is an AFC West team and beating divisional teams is a must if they want to capture the division title. Despite the Raiders recent struggles, and the Broncos dominance as of late in this rivalry, I am always nervous when the Broncos travel to The Black Hole. Considering this trip comes after a long trip to New England, and is the midpoint of a three game stretch on the road, that definitely adds a bit to the nervousness.
- Cincinnati Bengals (Week 16): For whatever reason, I am not too excited or energized about the Broncos sixth road game of the season. This may be due to the fact that it is against the Cincinnati Bengals. Sure, the Bengals were a playoff team in 2013, but in my opinion they are just outside the top tier teams in the NFL. Understanding that there is no easy win in the NFL, and every NFL team has great coaches and players, I hope (and am sure) the Broncos will approach this game must differently than my initial thoughts regarding this matchup. Fans in Cincinnati will be excited since this game is being played on Monday night. Hopefully, the weather will be relatively decent but given how late this game in the year is being played, and the fact that it is in Ohio, you never know. Another factor that may come into play is the fact that this game occurs one week before the season comes to an end. The current playoff picture at that point in the season may come into play for both teams – either as a must-win type scenario or playoff outcomes already determined despite week seventeen results.
- New York Jets (Week 6): Eric who? I can’t blame Eric Decker for going where he could make more money, but let’s face it, are his odds for a Super Bowl better in New York or Colorado? I am looking forward to this game because hopefully the Broncos will travel to the Big Apple and put a serious beating on the Jets. The extra money may not seem too enjoyable to Decker if that happens. Ah, who am I kidding, on some level I am sure the large paycheck makes the sting of losing seem more tolerable. As common fans, that is something we’ll never be able to relate to. Other than that story line, this seems to be a ho-hum game, hence the lower rating on my list. All that being said, this trip to New York better have a better outcome than the February trip!
- St. Louis Rams (Week 11): While last on my list, I think the Broncos will have a challenge when they complete their span of three road games in three weeks with a trip to St. Louis. For starters, the Rams play in a dome so the crowd noise may be a factor and the artificial turf seems to give a slight advantage to the home team when it comes to speed and quickness, even though both teams play on the same surface. The Rams game marks the last team in the NFC West the Broncos will face in the regular season. It would be nice if the Broncos would be playing for a clean sweep of the NFC West, but given the strength of that particular division, that may not be the case. That being said, let’s hope the Broncos return home after week eleven with a victory, even if it’s not the fourth victory over an NFC West team in 2014.
Now, all we have to do is wait! Three-and-a-half months to go and counting!
Tags: Denver Broncos