Breaking Down the Denver Broncos 2014 Strength of Schedule


Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; The Denver Broncos mascot prior to Super Bowl XLVIII against the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

This post comes from Justin Becker of You can follow him on Twitter @NFLRankings or the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more 2014 Fantasy Football Rankings visit Fantasy Football Overdose, a fantasy football blog.


The Denver Broncos had an amazing season in 2013, which naturally allowed fantasy owners to have some pretty awesome seasons in fantasy football. They had some minor bumps in the road along the way, but for the most part Peyton Manning and his 55 passing touchdowns had little trouble keeping a smile on his fantasy football owners’ faces.

That is, until he hit the Super Bowl. Most leagues don’t have you playing fantasy football until the NFL’s final game of the year, but if anyone was using him in daily games, the impact was still felt.

Needless to say, the Seattle Seahawks were not a good matchup for Manning and co. They don’t figure to be in 2014, either, when they face during the regular season. In fact, Denver has quite a few tough matchups on their schedule and despite record numbers in 2013, fantasy owners may want to temper expectations a bit when they look at this year’s schedule.

To help prepare for the upcoming 2014 fantasy football season, let’s take a look at their toughest matchups and assess which Broncos fantasy options could thrive or should be left on the bench for certain weeks:

Week 2 vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City’s best attribute on defense is their pass rush, but Manning was perfectly fine against them in two games. He lit them up in a shootout in meeting number two, while Denver opted to play ball control offense the first time. That doesn’t mean this week two showdown will be easy, but owners of Broncos players probably don’t need to lose sleep over their lineup decisions.

Strength of Schedule Grade: Moderate

Week 3 @ Seattle Seahawks

Little needs to be said here, as the last time these two teams first it was beyond clear Denver was overmatched. They did have some success in the second half, but were shockingly too passive with short passing routes early in the Super Bowl and simply got out-played from a physicality standpoint through the entire game.

Denver has the speed and system to beat the Seahawks, but they’ll need to execute as good as they have at any other point – especially with this one being on the road. It’s not ever wise to doubt Manning or the Broncos, but this week three game might be the week you consider using an alternate option at quarterback and other positions you might normally use a Bronco.

SOS Grade: Extremely Difficult

Week 5 vs. Arizona Cardinals

Arizona has a very aggressive defense that boasts a strong secondary with Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. They were effective at forcing picks (20) a year ago, and also got to the quarterback the sixth most times (47) in the league. They’ve only added more pieces at safety at the defensive line, so they could be even nastier. This one is at home as opposed to the desert, but it should still be a pretty tough matchup. Manning has struggled with 3-4 defenses in his career, too, another factor worth pointing out.

SOS Grade: Difficult

Week 6 @ New York Jets

New York would have been a more formidable matchup with their 11th ranked pass defense in 2013, as losing Antonio Cromartie and failing to land a stud veteran corner in free agency has hurt them a bit. Still, they’re loaded with talent and just drafted stud safety Calvin Pryor. Rex Ryan also loves facing Peyton Manning and it’s in New York, so this one should be far from easy for Denver.

SOS Grade: Difficult

Week 7 vs. San Francisco 49ers

San Fran has done a solid job beefing up their secondary lately, but Manning might be able to pick them apart still. Montee Ball and Denver’s ground game is the scary part here, as the Niners stop the run with the best of them. Don’t expect a huge rushing day from a Denver back in this one. It should be fairly low scoring, too.

SOS Grade: Extremely Difficult

Week 9 @ New England Patriots

Denver barely lost in OT last time these two teams faced, but Peyton Manning actually had a pretty pedestrian outing. The Pats added Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, too, so that might stay the same. Knowshon Moreno destroyed them on the ground, though, so there is a lot of hope for Montee Ball in this one. Just keep in mind the Pats do have Vince Wilfork back.

SOS Grade: Moderate

Week 11 @ St. Louis Rams

The Rams have one of the best pass rushes in the entire league, as they actually finished third in sacks a year ago (53). Manning isn’t the most mobile and Denver actually lost Zane Beadles in free agency, so his protection could be an issue, especially with this game on the road. St. Louis also added some key defensive help in the draft, so they could be even better. It’s doubtful the Broncos have a ton of trouble disposing of them, though. It’s still the Rams, right?

SOS Grade: Moderate

Week 12 vs. Miami Dolphins

Miami isn’t an elite defense right now, but proved to be stout against the run in 2012, can get after the quarterback and was middle of the pack against the pass in 2013. They’re a rising unit with corner Brent Grimes returning in 2014, but this probably isn’t a game Broncos fantasy owners need to worry too much about.

SOS Grade: Moderate

Week 13 @ Kansas City Chiefs

Battle two with the division rivals comes later in the year and in KC. This one should be more competitive and probably a little more difficult for the Broncos. While the matchup won’t be the easiest, it’s still not one to really shy away from. You can use your Broncos as you normally would.

SOS Grade: Moderate

Week 16 @ Cincinnati Bengals

Last, but certainly not least, is a gritty Bengals team that gets after the quarterback and shuts down the run very well. Peyton Manning and his passing weapons should still be able to carve up a pretty subpar pass defense, but the pass rush could provide problems and this might not be the best week to deploy Montee Ball.

SOS Grade: Difficult