The Denver Broncos are looking to make another run at the postseason in 2013. John Fox has said this year is Super Bowl or bust. The Broncos expect a lot, but will they get a lot this season?
The 2012 campaign saw the Broncos roll into the playoffs on an 11-game winning streak. They entered the postseason as the No. 1 seed in the AFC and had home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. On a bitter cold day in January, their postseason was cut short when they lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round of the playoffs.
With Peyton Manning entering year two with the Broncos, they have their sights set on getting even further in 2013.
The Broncos regular-season schedule in 2013 is as follows:
|2||at New York Giants|
|5||at Dallas Cowboys|
|7||at Indianapolis Colts|
|10||at San Diego Chargers|
|11||Kansas City Chiefs|
|12||at New England Patriots|
|13||at Kansas City Chiefs|
|15||San Diego Chargers|
|16||at Houston Texans|
|17||at Oakland Raiders|
In the following slides, we will predict each of the Broncos 16 regular-season games for the upcoming 2013 season.
Broncos fans will have their minds on revenge when the World Champion Baltimore Ravens come to the Mile High City. The Broncos were the No. 1 seed last year and the favorite in the AFC when the Ravens beat them in Denver 38-35 in double overtime.
The rivalry heated up even more when the Ravens signed away free-agent sackmaster Elvis Dumervil earlier this offseason. Dumervil returns to Denver to what will now be a hostile crowd for him. The sting of losing Dumervil in free agency will be especially painful if Denver is missing Von Miller in this game due to his pending suspension.
There will be an added energy at Sports Authority Field at Mile High and the Broncos will begin to exorcise the demons of last year's playoff failure.
Prediction: Broncos 38, Ravens 27 (1-0)
It's the NFL's version of the Civil War when brother faces brother in Week 2. The spotlight will be on the quarterbacks as we once again see Peyton Manning versus Eli Manning on the gridiron.
This will be the third time the two have faced off against each other, with Peyton holding an undefeated 2-0 record. However, this will be the first time Peyton is suiting up for the Broncos in a Manning Bowl.
The Broncos will have to contend with the Giants' dynamic duo of wide receivers. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks make for a potent combination and the Broncos secondary will be tested early and often. Denver will also have to stop the Giants 1-2 punch in the backfield featuring David Wilson and Andre Brown.
It's not Independence Day, but there will be plenty of fireworks in this early-season shootout. Denver stays hot with a 2-0 start.
Prediction: Broncos 35, Giants 30 (2-0)
The Raiders are trying to get back on the right track but are a long way from competing with a team the caliber of the Broncos.
New quarterback Matt Flynn lacks quality targets and may find himself under a lot of pressure on the road. Running back Darren McFadden had the biggest rushing day of his career (16 carries, 165 yards, three touchdowns) against the Broncos back in 2010. However, it will be tough getting the ground game jump-started this week when the Raiders fall behind early in this contest.
This is the day for the Broncos to slow things down and hammer their opponent with the running game. The Raiders rush defense ranked 18th against the run in 2012 and won't be drastically improved this season. Rookie Montee Ball and second-year back Ronnie Hillman could both have big days on the ground.
The Broncos put the offense on cruise control and easily move on to a 3-0 record.
Prediction: Broncos 27, Raiders 14 (3-0)
Tempo is the name of the game with head coach Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles. They'll have an especially fatiguing contest as they try their supersonic offense at 5,280 feet. The altitude will be a big home-field advantage for the Broncos here.
We'll have to see if the Eagles are starting quarterback Michael Vick or Nick Foles here. If Vick is starting, then his rushing ability could be a big thorn in the side of the Broncos defense. Denver had trouble with the uptempo offense last year when they faced the Patriots and that is something that could be problematic again.
Turnovers could be the difference here, and the raucous crowd at Mile High will make it difficult for Kelly's offense to run like a well-oiled machine. The Broncos win a close battle in the end and advance to 4-0.
Prediction: Broncos 27, Eagles 24 (4-0)
The Broncos travel to Texas to face off against the Cowboys in Week 5. New Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin runs the "Tampa 2" defense he made famous with head coach Tony Dungy and the Buccaneers. It was Dungy who carried those same concepts over to the Indianapolis Colts. It's a defense that Peyton Manning knows like the back of his hand.
Defensively, the Broncos will have to contend with one of the best young wide receivers in the game today. Like Demaryius Thomas, the Cowboys' Dez Bryant was a first-round pick in the 2010 NFL draft. Bryant is difficult to stop and could have his way with the Broncos secondary. We could see a great back and forth between Bryant and Thomas on this day.
The Cowboys defense has been set back by multiple injuries this offseason and will have a difficult time slowing down Manning and Thomas. Wes Welker and Eric Decker should also be able to have big days in Dallas, as Manning should have plenty of time to throw.
Denver rolls on with a victory in Dallas to start the season 5-0.
Prediction: Broncos 30, Cowboys 20 (5-0)
The Jaguars have little chance of beating the Broncos here. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew is their best offensive weapon, but it always goes back to the quarterback.
It doesn't really matter if Chad Henne or Blaine Gabbert is under center in Week 6. Neither can go toe to toe with Peyton Manning. This game would be more interesting if Tim Tebow were the quarterback for the Jaguars.
Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio will have a stingy game plan drawn up for his former team.
This day should be another banner day for the Broncos offense. Like the Raiders game in Week 3, we could see an emphasis on the ground game.
The Jaguars may have cooler helmets than the Broncos, but that's about it. John Fox doesn't want to run up the score, so he shuts things down when Denver goes up by 28 points. Denver is 6-0 and riding high.
Prediction: Broncos 42, Jaguars 6 (6-0)
Peyton Manning gets to play against the only team he's never faced before. The former Colts legend travels back to Indianapolis to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on his old team. Manning won a Super Bowl with the Colts, but with the way things ended in Indy, he will be looking for redemption.
It's the past versus the future, as the Colts replaced Manning with Andrew Luck, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. Luck is an MVP candidate and should be more dangerous this season working with his former college offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.
Luck will be able to methodically work down the field against the Broncos defense. Manning will be able to take big shots downfield against a poor Colts defense.
It's a game where emotions will be incredibly high for Manning in what very well could be a playoff preview. There's no way he lets himself or his team down. The Broncos remain undefeated as we approach the halfway point of the season.
Prediction: Broncos 30, Colts 28 (7-0)
Mike Shanahan is still beloved by most Broncos fans because of the two Super Bowl titles he won in the Mile High City. Now he returns to Denver as the enemy for the first time since his departure.
We should see a fully healthy Robert Griffin III under center for the Redskins. His bucket accuracy and speedy wide receiver Pierre Garcon will be problematic for the Broncos. Shanahan also has unearthed another late-round gem running back in 2012 sixth-round pick Alfred Morris. They'll use Morris and a heavy dose of the ground game to try to keep Peyton Manning off the field.
It's a valiant effort, but not enough to stop Manning. Denver fans will tell you how Manning used to own the Shanahan-led Broncos. That continues, but this time it's Manning leading the Broncos as he has the team headed into the bye week with an undefeated record.
Prediction: Broncos 28, Redskins 17 (8-0)
The Broncos travel to the West Coast for a division game that will lack fireworks. New Chargers head coach Mike McCoy was the offensive coordinator for the Broncos last year and knows what makes Peyton Manning tick. McCoy will try to exploit the weak spots in Manning's game, but the Chargers defense lacks the firepower to stop him.
The Broncos continue their hot play and safely guard their unblemished record.
Prediction: Broncos 24, Chargers 3 (9-0)
There's no question the Chiefs will be better in 2013. Andy Reid will have his team hovering around .500 for most of the year, and some feel Kansas City could be up for a wild-card spot.
New quarterback Alex Smith is an upgrade over Matt Cassel and his efficient style will work if he's given time to throw.
It will be difficult for the Broncos to shut down superstar running back Jamaal Charles. The biggest game of his career (25 carries, 259 yards, two touchdowns) happened in Denver back in 2009. Denver's focus will be shutting down Charles and then trying to figure out a way to contend with wide receiver Dwayne Bowe on the outside. And if the Chiefs can get quality play from rookie tight end Travis Kelce, then this game could be even closer.
We're likely to see a home-and-home split in this series. Denver is at home this week, and they get the win.
Prediction: Broncos 27, Chiefs 20 (10-0)
Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady is always one of the most entertaining games of the season. Denver is undefeated at this point and want to make a statement against the Patriots. This is most certainly a playoff preview, as most see these two teams as the best the AFC has to offer.
Traveling to Foxborough to play the Patriots is always difficult to navigate. The crowd will be loud and Patriots coach Bill Belichick will have cooked up one of his suffocating game plans to stop Manning. Wide receiver Wes Welker is looking for a little payback here and will do anything he can to secure a victory.
The Broncos defense struggled mightily with the Patriots' uptempo offense last year, and this season is no different. Running back Stevan Ridley could have a strong game, softening up the middle of the Broncos defense. This will keep the scheme honest and give Brady better looks in the passing game.
This game is going to be one of the best this regular season. Unfortunately for Broncos fans, their undefeated streak stops this week.
Prediction: Patriots 38, Broncos 35 (10-1)
The NFL schedule makers have the Broncos facing the Chiefs two times in three weeks. Denver is reeling after their first defeat of the season as they head to Kansas City.
The Chiefs know that to beat Denver they need to push them around. Kansas City is the bully on this day with a strong ground game and a defense that harasses Peyton Manning all day. The Broncos put all their efforts into beating New England and came up short. They may have trouble duplicating that effort the next week against the Chiefs.
This is going to be a home-and home split. The Chiefs are at home, so they get the win.
Prediction: Chiefs 24, Broncos 20 (10-2)
The Broncos have now dropped two in a row and return to Sports Authority Field at Mile High to lick their wounds.
Coming home after a difficult two-game stretch will obviously be welcomed, and the Broncos should be able to get back on track against the Titans.
Young quarterback Jake Locker will have a difficult time managing the offense as the Broncos pass rush should make him quite uncomfortable early and often. Running backs Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene will be a handful for the Broncos defense, but in the end they can't keep up.
Denver gets back on track with a fairly easy win in Week 14.
Prediction: Broncos 30, Titans 21 (11-2)
Mike McCoy returns to the Mile High City but is simply outmatched as the Broncos defense starts to get hot late in the year.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is a favorite villain for Broncos fans, and he'll be under pressure for most of the day. Running back Ryan Mathews will find rushing lanes few and far between as he continues to struggle. New addition Danny Woodhead could make some plays in garbage time as a runner and receiver out of the backfield.
The Chargers get a late touchdown to make the score seem closer than the game actually was.
Prediction: Broncos 27, Chargers 20 (12-2)
The Texans are making another run for the playoffs in 2013. This could very well be another playoff preview game for the Broncos with home-field advantage on the line for both teams.
We'll know by this time if Texans running back Arian Foster is able to get (and stay) healthy in 2013. If he's near full strength, then the Broncos defense will get beat up and wore down between the tackles. Add in new wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and the Texans offense is even more dangerous.
Last year the Texans beat the Broncos at Sports Authority Field, 31-25. This outcome won't be much different even though the game is at Reliant Stadium.
The Broncos won't be able to stop J.J. Watt and the Texans pass rush. Peyton Manning fights hard but, under constant pressure, comes up short this week.
Prediction: Texans 30, Broncos 23 (12-3)
The Raiders would love nothing more than to play spoiler for the Denver Broncos at the end of the year. They'll be going nowhere and looking at South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the No 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
The Broncos could be looking to earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. A victory against the Raiders is not only easy, but one that wraps up the season with a shutout.Broncos fans don't like the record 13-3. Denver was 13-3 last year and lost in their first playoff game. They were also 13-3 back in 1996 and lost in their playoff opener to the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars.
Prediction: Broncos 28, Raiders 0 (13-3)