Nov 24, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) drops back to pass against the New England Patriots during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
Facing an opponent on the road can never be an easy thing because of the lack of fan support in the stadium. The Denver Broncos begin their road trip with a visit to a place that has been familiar to them in the past couple years.
The Manning vs Brady duel takes place this Sunday afternoon in Gillette Stadium for the third straight year as the Broncos take on the Patriots. This game begins a three game trip away from Invesco Field at Mile High. This road trip will test the Broncos in a big way as they manage to get the toughest road game out of the way early on as they will travel to Oakland and St. Louis to conclude the road trip.
Looking at this year’s schedule and the past two years, Broncos fans could be crying foul as to why the Patriots are allowed to play the Broncos at home three years in a row. In fact, the last time the Patriots traveled to Denver during the regular season was when Tim Tebow was the quarterback. Ever since that game, the Broncos have traveled to Foxboro 4 out of the 5 times they squared off (including the postseason meetings) Does this seem fair to the Broncos? Why does New England get the home game against the Broncos? Well, the reason why has been answered for years.
According to Kyle Montgomery of Mile High Report, the Broncos schedule against the AFC East rotates between home and away every so often. In fact, when the Broncos faced the Patriots in 2011, it would mark the last time that the Patriots would have to go on the road to play Denver for the next three years. So, according to this rough document, the Broncos would play the AFC East opponent that finished in the same position that the Broncos did in that year. For 2011 and 2012, the Broncos won their division and so did New England. And because how the home and away schedules are rotated between the two opponents that are factored due to the team’s finish in their own division, the Broncos would be playing the AFC East opponent on the road and either the AFC North or South opponent at home in 2012 and 2013.
This season, the Broncos face off against all four AFC East opponents. It just happened to be that because the Broncos faced the Patriots at home in 2011, that the Patriots get to host the Broncos this time around. However, the Broncos get a chance to pull off the same card starting in 2015. If the Broncos and Patriots finish in the same spot in their respective divisions for the next two years, the Patriots will become the road team and then in 2017, no matter where the teams finish, the Broncos get to play the Patriots at Mile High rather than travel on the road to play them because that would be the next time the Broncos face all four opponents in the AFC East.
So, while it may not be fair that the Broncos have to be the road team against the Patriots, there is nothing that can be done because the schedules have been out a long time in advance. It just so happens that it happened to be at that time that the Broncos and Patriots have finished in the same spot the last couple years.
Sure it is always nice to beat a team on your home turf. But beating a strong team like the Patriots on the road gives you that extra dose of satisfaction.