Denver Broncos 2013 NFL Schedule: Predictions and Game Analysis
Denver Broncos 2013 Schedule Analysis
As the Denver Broncos 2013 NFL schedule was released this past week, it is fairly evident that they have the easiest schedule in the league as far as opponent win percentage (.430). That makes it difficult to truly analyze each game early in the offseason.
The initial reaction to the schedule was one of fear as I posted when the schedule was first released last Thursday. While stepping back and truly analyzing not only the opponents, but the order in which the Broncos play them and where, it is difficult to foresee them having a down year as far as wins and losses.
What I do see, however, is a path that may find them getting bored with their opponents and the offense letting off the gas pedal as opposed to playing tougher divisions and being ready for the playoffs mentally.
There is no doubt that the Broncos are looking to parlay their double-overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens this past January into a momentum-building agenda towards a Lombardi Trophy. But is it really feasible for them to accomplish that feat with a quarterback that is known for being more of a machine that goes through the motions than a player that becomes bigger on the grand stage?
I will go on record as saying that I believe Peyton Manning can make that transition with this Broncos team that executive vice president of football operations John Elway has put behind him.
So as I analyze, and maybe over-analyze the 2013 Denver Broncos schedule, it would be good to remember that one injury can change the direction of this, or any team's season and there are many factors that can contribute to scenario changes in any game. This analytical basis is on the strength that for the most part the Broncos will remain healthy and find their rhythm with new offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
Here's hoping the Broncos will have a great 2013 season, and each of these games will be able to prep them for the second season. We all know it is Super Bowl or bust for this team, so here goes:
Denver Broncos vs Baltimore Ravens
Call me a heretic, or even oblivious to the hype, but I am not as intrigued with this opening match-up as most other fans will be when the time comes. As I have stated before, it is difficult to get into a revenge game against a team that has lost nine core players from their championship run the year before.
The Baltimore Ravens get the short end of the stick by not being able to open at home because of a scheduling conflict, and I am very glad to get this game out of the way quick in 2013. The Broncos are only 3-5 lifetime vs the Ravens in Denver, but that stat here will not be valid as once again, the orange and blue are the better team.
The addition of Wes Welker in the slot and a revamped run defense will be the difference in this first game, and the secondary will make sure to keep the receivers in front of them.
Broncos 27 Ravens 13
Denver Broncos at New York Giants
This is the game to get excited about if you are a die hard Broncos fan. They head to visit the Giants in game two, and this very possibly may be the last regular season meeting you will ever see that involves Peyton and Eli. While history may show that the Broncos are 5-5 against the Giants all-time in the regular season, it will be interesting to see how the Broncos react after a long layoff between the first and second game along with the atmosphere in Met Life Stadium.
The Giants are clearly a flawed team in their secondary and unless Jason Pierre-Paul goes back to his 2011 form, their pass rush will leave a lot to be desired in 2013. But anytime you have a Manning as a quarterback and receivers like Hakim Nicks and Victor Cruz, the possibility for a shootout is realistic. I see the Broncos losing this one in a heartbreaking effort because of a lack of pass rush themselves and the Giants ability to protect the middle of the field.
Giants 38 Broncos 35
Denver Broncos vs Oakland Raiders
The Broncos come back home in week three against the annually hapless Raiders that just can't seem to get it together. The Broncos do not usually fare well all-time at home against the Raiders (22-28-2) but as last year proved, they are in a different class than the silver and black. The loss of Darius Heyward-Bey and the transition to QB Matt Flynn behind center will be more difficult than the Raiders will ever admit.
There's not much else to say about what will be a blowout win in the mile high city against arguably the worst team in the NFL. The problem I see is that this is the first of a four-game stretch against mediocre or bad teams that may find the Broncos taking that pedal off the metal.
Broncos 38 Raiders 10
Denver Broncos vs Philadelphia Eagles
The Broncos welcome the Eagles to Sports Authority Field at Mile High in the fourth week of the 2013 season, and after seeing the Raiders the week before, they can focus on an actual NFL squad. That does not mean the Eagles are much better, but the dismantling of the "Dream Team" leaves many question marks going into the season. New head coach Chip Kelly brings a high-powered, fast-paced offense that may or may not surprise anyone in the league.
Teams will have plenty of tape on Kelly's intricacies, and there are no assurances that Mike Vick can be successful learning a new system. The Broncos are a much better team that will exploit the young secondary of the Eagles, while being able to run at will. That combination will be deadly quick, and Kelly will be soon hoping he was back in Oregon with his once-mighty Ducks.
Broncos 42 Eagles 17
Denver Broncos at Dallas Cowboys
After playing against two relatively easy opponents, the Broncos travel to play the Cowboys with the hopes of avoiding a let-down. Tony Romo will be trying to live up to his newly bloated contract, and the new defensive system installed by guru Monte Kiffin will be just coming into its own. Manning will have one of his "off" weeks that will transcend into one or two interceptions and costly mistakes in the red zone.
The Cowboys find a way to limit the Broncos yards after the catch while stymieing their run game and this game turns out to be a major disappointment for the Broncos as they head to 3-2 on the year. The Broncos would have been better off playing the Cowboys on Thanksgiving as they could have used that extra time for the Cowboys to begin their typical downward slide out of playoff contention.
Cowboys 27 Broncos 17
Denver Broncos vs Jacksonville Jaguars
There is nothing like a good dose of the Jaguars to right a ship when the going has been rough. The Broncos come home to host the Jags and their dysfunctional ways, and this turns out to be another mauling like the one the Raiders suffer earlier in the year. This may very well be the game that Brock Osweiler gets to showcase his talent to the Broncos faithful as Manning gives him a huge lead to play with.
Many might believe this will be the ultimate trap game considering the Broncos next two opponents, but does it really matter if it is the starters or the back-ups that win this game? The Jaguars would not have a chance, even if they had Mark Brunell in his prime behind center.
Broncos 52 Jaguars 13
Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts
Welcome home, Peyton Manning! As the Broncos head to the domed sanctity of Lucas Oil Stadium, the homecoming for Manning might be just what he needs to get his horses back on track. Anytime a great player of any sport is replaced so easily, it is natural to want to go back and prove the doubters wrong, which is exactly what Manning will do in this Prime-time match-up with the Colts. As Jim Irsay stares down from his luxury box, he will cringe at the clinic Manning, Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker will be performing.
With pinpoint precision route-running and a stout pass rush, Andrew Luck and his Colts will be hard-pressed to keep up with the man he replaced in the dome. This may not even be as close a game as some may think as the Broncos defense will come to prove a point that they are one of the best units in the league. Add to that fact that this is the first true offensive threat for the Broncos in a few games, and Jack Del Rio will put his team in a position to dominate with his mixed blitzes and nickel scheme.
Broncos 35 Colts 17
Denver Broncos vs Washington Redskins
With the dual threat of QB Robert Griffin III and RB Alfred Morris, the Washington Redskins boast one of the most elusive and intense offenses in the NFL. Add to that the fact that this will be head coach Mike Shanahan's first visit to the mile high city since being fired by the Broncos in 2008, and there will be plenty of story-lines to run with. The one question to ask here for this game is if Del Rio can put his defense into position to make plays on the fly and slow down RGIII.
Turnovers will undoubtedly rule this game, and that is an area the Broncos lacked last season. With most defensive players in their second year under Del Rio, look for him to utilize their individual talents better and for players such as Chris Harris and Wesley Woodyard to have a big game here. The Broncos will barely win this one while underestimating the fourth-quarter heroics of RGIII.
Broncos 24 Redskins 23
Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers
After a much-needed bye week, the Broncos travel to the Chargers to begin the second half stretch that sees them play five divisional games in their last eight. That would seem to bode well for the Broncos being the state of the union in the AFC West, but this is where they need to be diligent in not taking the pedal off the metal. The Chargers may not be the incompetent team they showed last season leaving QB Philip Rivers on an island in the backfield to fend for himself, but they will not be much better, either.
While the Chargers may look improved in new head coach Mike McCoy's offense, there is still going to be an adjustment period while the new regime gets settled. This is not the way McCoy would have scripted his first game against his old team, but the Broncos are just too well-rounded of a team for it to make much difference. This will be the second half of last season's loss on October 15 all over again, and we all know that game propelled the Broncos to an 11 game win streak to end the season. The Broncos will not have to erase any deficits in this one as they continue to force turnovers and their receivers become the best unit in the NFL.
Broncos 42 Chargers 20
Denver Broncos vs Kansas City Chiefs
Here comes another trap game for the Broncos as the Chiefs come to town with the Patriots looming Week 12. The bottom line is that the Chiefs are a vastly improved team with Alex Smith as their quarterback and one of the better secondaries in the league. New head coach Andy Reid and his West Coast offense will be in full motion by Week 11 and that may not be a good thing for the Broncos if Manning and company can not keep their head in the game.
This game will be a wake-up call to the Broncos that if they overlook any opponent, they will not reach their goals for 2013. While the talent on the Broncos is clearly superior in all phases, the Chiefs push them around and pack the punch that lets them know they are not as far behind as some would think.
Chiefs 27 Broncos 23
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
After a demoralizing defeat at the hands of the Chiefs in week 11, the Broncos have to travel to Gillette Stadium to visit the Patriots. Historically the Broncos are 25-18 vs the Pats, but they have not had much recent luck. This will be another showcase between Manning and his rival Tom Brady, with the Patriots tight ends being the difference in this one. In a shootout that will go down to the final drive, Welker will be his usual self in Foxboro, dropping a critical third down pass and forcing the Broncos to punt and give Brady one last shot at the game.
If you are a Broncos fan, you hope this scenario does not happen because playoff implications loom with this game. Maybe it would be better for Manning to play on the playoff road instead of the cold confines of Sports Authority Field. One thing is for sure, the one place they do not want to visit again is New England.
Patriots 38 Broncos 34
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
The Broncos look back on their last two losses and know they have to get into the right frame of mind for a playoff run. That run starts at Arrowhead Stadium where they do not have to wait long to avenge their loss to the Chiefs. This time, Manning and his Broncos will not leave anything to chance as Gase and his offense continue their high-flying ways and embarrass the Chiefs in front of their home crowd.
Manning will throw for four touchdowns in this game, and Welker, Thomas and Decker will be an amazing sight to see as the Broncos improve to 8-4 on the year. This will be the game that head coach John Fox calls the defining moment in the season as they prepare for the playoffs.
Broncos 45 Chiefs 17
Denver Broncos vs Tennessee Titans
The Titans are a good, young football team that will need some more time and a better quarterback to compete in this league. This game will never be close as the Broncos offense rolls to a humming tune, and the defense is led by Terrance Knighton and Kevin Vickerson, holding Chris Johnson at bay with just an average game. Von Miller will be a factor also, as will Derek Wolfe coming off the end.
The Broncos are too talented a team to lose to another sub-par opponent, and we will get another glimpse of Osweiler in the fourth quarter as Manning takes a late-season rest. I will state this one more time for those not listening before. If the Broncos begin to ease up much off the pedal, they run the risk of losing their edge come playoff time. Let's hope that with three games remaining after this one, that it will not be the case.
Broncos 38 Titans 13
Denver Broncos vs San Diego Chargers
This is the final home game for the Broncos, and very well may be the final time fans get to see their squad until the start of the 2014 season if the Broncos can not get a home playoff game. With four losses already on the season and teams like the Texans and Patriots looming, this may be the case. The Chargers and head coach Mike McCoy come into Denver looking for some way to derail the Broncos from their eventual goals.
What the Chargers will find out, however, is that they simply can not keep up with an offense that usually scores at will and has all of the ability to be one of the most explosive units ever. As a divisional game, these two teams always play each other tough, and I can see this being more competitive than fans would like to see. That sound on the sideline you hear? Philip Rivers screaming at his linemen that he is getting killed out there.
Broncos 24 Chargers 20
Denver Broncos at Houston Texans
The Broncos visit the Texans in Week 16 in a battle of two of the best teams in the NFL. Matt Schaub will have his team poised to spoil the hopes of Manning and the Broncos, but will find out that they are more resilient as the playoffs get closer. Manning will exploit the Houston secondary(even with the addition of Ed Reed) and the offense will look like it is in full swing by this late December match-up.
What Gary Kubiak and his staff can not figure out is how to put Schaub in a better position to make plays when Arian Foster and the run game is limited and ineffective. The Broncos do not get intimidated by the Texans physical play which is a good sign heading into the final game of the season. The Broncos realize that their playoffs technically begin with this game, and use it as a tune-up for what will be a long road through the AFC to get to their hopeful destination of Met Life Stadium on Feb. 11, 2014.
Broncos 34 Texans 20
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders
Anytime a team visits the Black Hole, it can turn into a dangerous dilemma, especially if there are no playoff implications. But this is the 2013 Raiders who are one of the worst teams in the NFL, and the Broncos will take the first half to tune their engine then hand it off once again to the future: Osweiler and the back-ups. The Raiders can not run the ball, Flynn will be lucky to still have his job and Dennis Allen might find that the reality is harsh when he is relieved of his duties.
The Broncos easily win this game with an all-out attack on defense, and an offense that moves the chains at will early, but lets up as the game goes on. This will be one of the biggest blow-outs of the year as the Broncos finish the 2013 season on the road, and find themselves heading home to host a wild-card game. After finishing the year with five wins, the Broncos find themselves at 12-4, and primed for a solid run.
Broncos 48 Raiders 9