After finishing in last place in the AFC West in each of the last three seasons, the Denver Broncos will be looking to make a move in the other direction this season under new head coach Sean Payton.
The team has its schedule in place and recently, we predicted what the team's record will look like ahead of its bye in Week 9. Let's just say, for the sake of this article, that prediction ends up being accurate.
It would put the Broncos in prime playoff position for the second half of the season, where the schedule gets more difficult. I am going to focus on a key segment of that schedule, one which could make or break the team's season.
That will be a three-game road trip between Weeks 13-15 in the month of December.
The Broncos have not had a three-game road trip since the 2017 season and these three games are going to be critical to this season's success.
Though the games will take place in December, where most games played around the country are in cold and inclement weather, the Broncos caught a break with these three games.
Week 13 at Houston Texans
Week 14 at Los Angeles Chargers
Week 15 at Detroit Lions
The Broncos drew two games that are played inside a dome and one in the sun of Los Angeles. That could be a key factor.
Starting with the Texans, they are a team with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback and they are a team that is likely not going to contend anytime soon. The Broncos only won five games last season but one of those was against the Texans.
The Chargers are a better team than the Broncos, at least on paper, but they are a team that the Broncos have not had issues with in recent years. In fact, while the Broncos have struggled mightily against both the Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders in recent years, they have at least one win over the Chargers in each season since their current playoff drought started. So-Fi Stadium is also not the most difficult place to play as the Chargers don't have the most loyal home crowd.
Finally, the Lions are a team with its arrow pointing up and going to Ford Field against them won't be an easy task. But the Lions are also historically bad and they are a team that has yet to figure out how to win on a consistent basis, so this is also not that tall of a task.
The Broncos need to find a way to win at least two of these three games. They finish the season with three winnable games against the Chargers, New England Patriots and Raiders so successful results on this road trip could easily springboard the team into the playoffs for the first time since the 2015 season.