The Denver Broncos schedule was released on Thursday. Naturally, the next thing to do is take a look at each game and try to predict how the team will fare in each matchup.
Before starting, there are some important things to note about the schedule itself. For starters, they open the season against the Tennessee Titans at home in a Monday Night Football game; they have two other primetime games as well. Week 8 is the bye week, and they get to open and close the season at Mile High.
One final point that could be of importance: Denver never plays more than two games at home or on the road in a row––but four of their six games against 2019 playoff teams will be at their home stadium.
Ok, let’s get into it.
Week 1: Tennessee Titans (MNF)
Broncos Win – Record: 1-0
Even though they lost the season opener at home against the Raiders last season, Denver brings a strong track record in home openers into Week 1.
In last season’s matchup with Tennessee, Denver won in a 16-0 shutout that resulted in the Titans’ benching of Marcus Mariota. Their backup that day? Their Week 1 starter in Ryan Tannehill.
A key player to watch is Jurrell Casey, who was traded to Denver from Tennessee in the offseason and will surely bring a little extra to the table in this matchup.
Week 2: @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Broncos Win – Record: 2-0
Last season, the Steelers lost Ben Rothlisberger early in the season to injury and were forced to learn how to win games without him. Mason Rudolph led them to an 8-6 record in the 14 games he played, but they missed the playoffs, traded their first-round pick for Minkah Fitzpatrick, and their biggest free-agent acquisitions were Eric Ebron and Stefen Wisniewski.
Unfortunately, the news also got leaked that the team wasn’t likely to re-sign James Connor or JuJu Smith-Schuster. Perhaps it takes them a little while for them to be motivated to play. Couple that with Roethlisberger’s age and elbow injury from last year, you have a strong chance of Denver capitalizing––even at Heinz Field.
Week 3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Broncos Lose – Record: 2-1
The Broncos are the only team to post a record above .500 against Tom Brady. While they have a chance to continue that trend into Brady’s Buccaneers career, they’re going to have their handful with a dynamic tight end duo in Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard.
Denver didn’t do much to address their tight end coverage in the offseason and have struggled mightily against that position in recent history.
Week 4: @ New York Jets (TNF)
Broncos Win – Record: 3-1
Denver got defiled by the Jets in their last matchup back in 2018 to the tune of 34-17. Following a hard-fought game against the Buccaneers and a short week of practice, this game will certainly be another tractor-pull.
Denver is 3-1 in their previous four games against the Jets, so this prediction is based more on gut feeling.
Week 5: @ New England Patriots
Broncos Win – Record: 4-1
Historically speaking, this game would be a challenge. However, Tom Brady has departed and been replaced with a second-year quarterback with four career passes, the Patriots didn’t make a first-round pick, and they’ve had a weak showing in free agency.
Denver should take advantage of this game. It’s still Bill Belichick on the sidelines, but they lost a lot of leadership on both sides of the ball. Expect New England to miss the postseason this year.
Week 6: Miami Dolphins
Broncos lose – Record: 4-2
The AFC East is wide open with the departure of Tom Brady. As a result, the door is left open for a team like the Miami Dolphins, who had an incredible draft––selecting a franchise quarterback, starting left tackle, and a starting-caliber cornerback in the first round. They also signed multiple big-name players in free agency.
On paper, they’re not better than Denver. However, there’s something about this team that says they’re going to lose a very winnable game early.
This game will serve as a wake-up call.
Week 7: Kansas City Chiefs
Broncos Lose – Record: 4-3
Let’s face it, the Chiefs are coming off of a Super Bowl title and have beaten the Broncos in nine straight matchups. They also didn’t lose anybody notable in free agency and shored up their weakest position on offense with the drafting of running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
They’re in a perfect position to repeat and dominate the AFC West for at least one more season. Denver is closing the gap, but they’re not quite there yet.
Let’s face it, the Chiefs are coming off a Superbowl win, they have beaten the Broncos nine
Week 8: Bye
Week 9: @ Atlanta Falcons
Broncos Win – Record: 5-3
The Falcons followed up a disappointing season with a plethora of offseason moves.
They brought in Todd Gurley and Hayden Hurst to help bolster their offense, while also cutting Vic Beasley, Desmond Trufant, and Devonta Freeman.
They drafted two starters in Matt Hennessy and A.J. Terrell––so they’ve definitely improved. However, something in the water tastes like another mediocre season in Atlanta. Yes, they still have Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Matt Ryan, but they were incredibly uninspired last season and play in an incredibly hard division. Couple that with Denver coming off the bye and it sounds like a Broncos victory.
Week 10: @ Las Vegas Raiders
Broncos Win – Record: 6-3
The Broncos split the season series against the Raiders in 2019, and are destined to take the first one this season.
Drafting Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette as starters in the first round of the draft and snaring Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski in free agency, the Raiders definitely got better. The team has a pretty stacked team, and it all hinges on Derek Carr’s ability to carry them to victories.
Too many defeats, especially at home, and it wouldn’t be shocking if Jon Gruden moves on to Marcus Mariota sometime this season.
Week 11: Los Angeles Chargers
Broncos Win – Record: 7-3
The Chargers lost Melvin Gordon and Philip Rivers in the offseason.
They replaced the latter with either Tyrod Taylor or Justin Herbert. Herbert has a chance to be a franchise guy, but at the end of the day, he’s still a rookie and will make his mistakes. The Chargers defense is still good, and their offense has a lot of weapons, but Denver has the defense to stick with them and a re-tooled offense ready to take the league by storm.
Week 12: New Orleans Saints
Broncos Lose – Record: 7-4
Plain and simple, the Saints have built one of the best teams in the league with incredibly talented players at most positions. This season seems destined to have Brees against Brady in the NFC Championship and, quite frankly, they should come to Denver and steal a victory.
Week 13: @ Kansas City Chiefs
Broncos Lose – Record: 7-5
Same explanation for Week 7.
Week 14: @ Carolina Panthers
Broncos Win – Record: 8–5
The Panthers are a team that doesn’t quite make sense to me. They moved on from Cam Newton and Kyle Allen for Teddy Bridgewater, draft a defensive lineman in the top 10, and their biggest free-agent acquisition was Robby Anderson.
It’s not fair to expect Christian McCaffrey to carry this team for three straight seasons without it eventually taking a toll. Denver is built to handle the run very well, and Carolina’s defense is taking a hit with the retirement of Luke Kuechly.
Week 15: Buffalo Bills
Broncos Win – Record: 9–5
This game is a turning point in the season for Denver. If they can go into Buffalo and steal a victory from the likely AFC East winners, then they have a shot at 11 victories, giving them a fighter’s chance at the division crown.
However, If Denver is in place to challenge for the division, with this game, they need to earn a win a potential dog fight.
Denver is 1-4 in their last five games against Buffalo, but it’s a home game and their playoff lives will likely hang in the balance.
Week 16: @ Los Angeles Chargers
Broncos Win – Record: 10–5
The Broncos are keeping an eye on some opponents around the league for playoff seeding and the different scenarios teams need to clinch playoff spots.
One of them is that they go into Los Angeles and sweep the season series against the Chargers who, if they don’t start Herbert in the first meeting, will have made the switch by now.
Melvin Gordon will have his payback against the team that wouldn’t pay him, and the Broncos have a chance to take a little dig at Chris Harris Jr., who fled for a division rival for less money than he was offered to stay.
Week 17: Las Vegas Raiders
Broncos Lose – Record: 10–6
By now, the Broncos will have wrapped up a Wild Card spot and not be in a position to change their seeding. This will be a ‘rest the starters’ game against the Raiders where Brett Rypien could get the start, along with other depth players getting major minutes.
Losing eventually, but getting much-needed rest for the long playoff push.