With their final preseason game coming against the Cardinals in Arizona on Thursday night, now seems as good a time as any to hash out Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos’ chances to win each regular-season game.
Week 1: at Pittsburgh
Denver’s offensive line has been the model of consistency over the past few years, bookended by Pro Bowler Ryan Clady at left tackle and 6'7", 330-pound Orlando Franklin at right tackle, and they will be put to the test here.
If they can have a solid game and keep Manning’s surgically repaired neck off the ground, then Denver will pull out a victory.
Prediction: Denver wins a close one, 20-17.
Week 2: at Atlanta
The Georgia Dome is a tough place to play, and the Broncos will be coming off an emotional, tightly contested opener against the Steelers. Even though Peyton’s preparation is legendary, expect a letdown here.
Prediction: Denver comes out flat and loses, 28-14.
Week 3: HOUSTON
Both teams have proven, veteran quarterbacks, 1,000-yard rushers and opportunistic defenses. Yet they couldn’t seem more different, could they?
The Broncos will have a raucous crowd behind them in their home opener, and that will be a huge help.
Prediction: Denver wins, 17-7.
Week 4: OAKLAND
It doesn’t matter if both teams are good, bad, or on opposite ends of the division standings: Denver vs. Oakland will be a war.
If you had your pick of generals to lead you, it’s hard to imagine choosing someone other than Manning.
Prediction: Denver wins, 20-13.
Week 5: at New England
Manning vs. Brady. Not much more needs to be said, the debate now seems eternal. This year is quite different. The Broncos will use this game as a measuring stick to see how they stack up against the AFC’s elite.
Prediction: Denver will fall a bit short and lose, 35-24.
Week 6: at San Diego
This should be a shootout. Chargers QB Philip Rivers will go shot for shot with anyone in the league so Manning will have to put up some points for Denver to win this one. He may look to his new wideout targets—Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas—or to his old pal from Indianapolis, TE Jacob Tamme.
Denver wins, 38-35.
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: NEW ORLEANS
This should be another shootout at Mile High against Drew Brees and company. This time, however, Peyton won’t be able to score enough points to win.
Denver loses, 31-24.
Week 9: at Cincinnati
The Bengals have a promising young squad but Peyton has a few veteran tricks up his sleeve.
Denver wins, 24-10.
Week 10: at Carolina
Cam Newton is tough to plan for but John Fox is one heck of a planner.
Denver wins easily, 28-13.
Week 11: SAN DIEGO
Divisional showdowns like this one are where Manning goes into beast mode. He’s memorized and categorized every weakness from the last meeting and will exploit them all.
Coach John Fox was quoted as such in FoxNews.com’s Broncos Preseason Preview: “Peyton is like a coach on the field. He paints a great picture. He's going to direct traffic as well as maybe anybody in the league.”
Prediction: Denver wins, 24-20.
Week 12: at Kansas City
After an emotional win over the Chargers, Peyton’s young supporting players will drop their guards a little bit, and with his physical capabilities not quite what they once were, Peyton won’t be able to pick up the slack.
Prediction: Denver loses, 10-7.
Week 13: TAMPA BAY
The Bucs are another young team on the rise, and they’ll be lucky enough to catch the Broncos during a brief, late-season swoon.
Prediction: Denver loses in a fluke, 17-13.
Week 14: at Oakland
This will be another divisional showdown and another classic Peyton Manning performance.
Prediction: Denver wins: 24-7.
Week 15: at Baltimore
The Ravens are going to be a monster team this season, and Peyton may spend way more time catching up with Haloti Ngata than he ever wanted to.
Prediction: Denver loses, 27-10.
Week 16: CLEVELAND
Denver will be a very good team this season, and Cleveland probably won’t be.
Prediction: Denver wins, 23-3.
Week 17: KANSAS CITY
Can Peyton Manning gut one more victory out against a divisional rival to get his team to 10 wins and secure a playoff berth?
Prediction: Yes he can, Denver wins, 20-14.