Game-by-Game Predictions for the Denver Broncos' 2013 Schedule
I know, I know. The Broncos have a huge playoff game this weekend and we should all be focused solely on postseason football.
However, before we get into full playoff mode, it might be nice to step back and look towards next season for this talented Denver team.
The initial NFL schedule has been released without the actual dates. We know who Denver's opponents will be and where the games will be played; just not when.
These predictions are made based on the current state of these teams. Keep in mind, the level of play from Denver's 2013 opponents could change based on their draft and free agent acquisitions.
Weather and the order in which these games are played could also play a factor in some of these matchups.
It should be no shock to Bronco fans that Denver will face the other three opponents in the AFC West twice in 2013; once at Sports Authority Field and again on the road.
The Chargers finished 2012 with a disappointing 7-9 record, and two empty chairs where the general manager and head coach used to sit. The Chargers fired A.J. Smith and Norv Turner after missing the playoffs for a third straight season.
San Diego has plenty of talent on their roster and could be successful next season depending on the coach and system that is put in place. If Antonio Gates and Ryan Matthews can manage to stay injury-free and Phillip Rivers channels his former level of play, San Diego could possibly contend in the AFC West next season.
Prediction: Denver and San Diego split the series.
The 2012 season was not a good one for the Oakland Raiders. On the positive side, Oakland has the third overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
Depending on what Oakland's decision makers do with that pick as well as any moves made during free agency, there is certainly plenty of room for improvement for Oakland next season. The Raiders ended the season ranked 18th in both offense and defense with a final record of 4-12.
Prediction: Oakland improves but not enough, Denver sweeps.
The Chiefs finished out the 2012 season tied with Jacksonville for the worst record in the NFL.
With Reid now calling the shots, his first order of business is to figure out who is going to be throwing the ball for the Chiefs next season. Kansas City had five guys make the Pro Bowl this year and has the capability to win some games next season.
Prediction: Denver wins at home and loses at Arrowhead.
The Broncos find all four teams in the AFC South on their schedule in 2013.
The Texans beat Denver at home in 2012 in the third week of the season. Granted, the Broncos were not playing like the same team that finished out the regular season as the number one seed in the AFC West; but neither are the Texans.
It's like the two teams did a role reversal. Houston started out the season playing strong solid football then slid the last four games of the regular season; even winning their first round playoff game ugly against the Bengals. In contrast, Denver started out slow and won eleven straight games to finish the regular season.
Prediction: It will be a tough road game but Denver comes out victorious.
The Jaguars are a mess. They finished 2012 with a record of 2-14 and are currently on deck with the second overall spot in next year's NFL draft.
With wide speculation that Tim Tebow will be in a Jaguar uniform next season, things could get interesting for Jacksonville; and not in a good way.
Just ask the Jets. The media circus and the crazed fans that come with Tebow are enough to cause dysfunction in any locker room. I do not see a vast improvement in the Jaguars this offseason, at least not enough to defeat the Broncos.
Prediction: Denver rolls at home.
Indianapolis surprised many members of the football community with their performance in 2012. Finishing the regular season with an 11-5 record was way beyond the expectations of this young team that was supposed to be in a rebuilding phase.
In Andrew Luck, they now have a young, extremely talented quarterback that will be the foundation for this franchise moving forward. With a few key moves this offseason, the Colts could find themselves heading to the postseason again in 2013.
Prediction: Peyton Manning's first game back to Indy as a Bronco is too much for this Colts team. Denver wins.
The Titans finished third in the AFC South with a record of 6-10 in what was a pretty forgettable season for this franchise. Tennessee ended 2012 ranked in the bottom third in all categories on both sides of the ball.
Injuries to the Titans offensive front line did not help the numbers for running back Chris Johnson, however he was one of the bright spots of this team, rushing for 1,243 yards. Quarterback Jake Locker was a disappointment and failed to convince anyone that he is a viable starter for Tennessee.
Defensively, the Titans need severe improvement this offseason in order to stop Denver's multiple offensive weapons.
Prediction: Denver wins big at home.
Throughout the 2013 season, the Broncos will face all four members of the NFC East.
The Cowboys' season was somewhat of a roller coaster that landed them at .500 with a final record of 8-8. While it seems like it has been discussed ad nauseum about Dallas at the end of the season, they are a talented team that just never seems to get it together in time for a decent playoff run.
Tony Romo finished the regular season with the third-highest number of passing yards amongst NFL quarterbacks, yet has been unable to make clutch plays needed to win down the stretch. Dallas is in need of a running back that can stay healthy throughout the season and balance out Romo's offense if they want to win more games in 2013.
Prediction: Denver wins in a close one on the road.
@ N.Y. Giants
The Giants had a rough patch at the worst possible time this season, ending their playoff hopes in December.
This Super Bowl defending team had issues on both sides of the ball that caused them to lose games down the stretch. New York should look to tighten up some of the holes in the pass rush and their running game before the start of next season in order to fight for the postseason.
The Giants are a good ball club and one should not sleep on them for next season.
Prediction: Denver loses on the road in New York.
The Eagles had a disastrous 2012 season. After finishing with only four wins, long-time head coach Andy Reid was fired and they have yet to fill his position.
The man at the helm in 2013 will inherit a team in need of leadership and direction. The Eagles have more talent then their fourth overall draft pick for 2013 indicates.
With a good hire and a decent offseason, the Eagles should make their way back to .500 in 2013.
Prediction: Denver wins big at home in the Mile High City.
Washington had a solid season with the help of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. With the injury to his knee in Sunday's playoff game, it is still up in the air how it will effect Griffin III's performance next season.
In his stellar rookie campaign, Griffin III sustained not only the knee injury but suffered a concussion that sidelined him as well. Next season the Washington coaching staff will need to utilize him differently in order to save his body and/or his career.
The Redskins will possibly be looking to beef up their offensive line to add more protection for their signal caller. Depending on the offseason healing process of the team, Washington should be a contender again next year in the NFC East and be looking for a playoff run in 2013.
Prediction: Denver comes out on top at 5280 feet above sea level.
AFC North Winner
As the winners of their division in 2012, the Ravens will have to come to Denver in 2013 to play the Broncos at Sports Authority Field.
Depending on the outcome of their 2012 divisional playoff matchup, Baltimore could either be seeking revenge or trying to prove that knocking Denver out of the playoffs was not a fluke.
The Ravens will have to come to Denver without Ray Lewis and possibly his stellar replacement Dannell Ellerbe, who will be a free agent in 2013.
The Ravens will certainly be competitive next season and will look to play Denver tough regardless of the 2012 postseason outcome.
Prediction: Denver defends home field and beats Baltimore in a close game.
AFC East Winner
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have been facing off since 2001. In that time, they have played each other 13 times -- ten in the regular season and three in the playoffs.
Brady and the Patriots have come out on top in nine of those 13 contests. While only one of those losses came in a Bronco uniform, Manning and Brady's rivalry goes back over ten years and will exist no matter what color their jersey is.
The Patriots have been a consistent contender in the AFC for over a decade and should continue to have success in 2013.
Prediction: Denver loses on the road in Gillette Stadium.
Based on these predictions, the Denver Broncos will have a record of 12-4 at this time next year. Disclaimer: it is still early and there are many factors that could have an impact on these games. However, it is fun to ponder.