Updated Win-Loss Predictions for the 2013 Denver Broncos
The first six games of the season were filled with high scores and mostly dominant victories. Besides the epic week five shootout with the Dallas Cowboys, (where Denver won 51-48) the closest game Denver played before losing to the Colts was when they beat the Oakland Raiders 37-21.
The Colts definitely exposed some of Denver's weaknesses. While they certainly boast an unreal passing attack, a solid running game and a strong defensive front seven, they are struggling in the defensive backfield. Opposing quarterbacks are able to pass on Denver with relative ease, and with the offensive line beat up, this is making Peyton Manning's job difficult.
The playoffs are almost certainly still in Denver's future this year, yet to win against the best, Denver will need to contain opposing offenses and not rely on scoring more than 35 points every game.
With some of these problems swept out from under the rug, let's look at an updated game-by-game analysis of the Broncos' remaining nine games.
Week 8: Washington Redskins @ Denver Broncos
Coming off a hard-fought loss on the road, Denver is going to come back home this week on fire. The Washington defense isn't going to know what hit them.
The defensive unit in Washington has been atrocious this year. They've given up nearly 400 yards and over 30 points per game. With an offense that got off to a slow start, that equates to a 2-4 record.
I see Denver getting ahead early in this game and Washington just trying to play catchup. As a result, it'll be a solid game for RGIII fantasy owners, but not for real-life fans of the Redskins.
Look for Knowshon Moreno to continue his solid season against a Washington run defense that's been virtually non-existent.
Score Prediction: Denver 48-Washington 31
Updated Denver Record: 7-1
Week 10: Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers
Denver would be wise to use their bye week productively, as they face the toughest four game stretch of their season coming out of it. Starting with a road matchup against the Chargers in Week 10, the Broncos will then see the Kansas City Chiefs at home, travel to Foxborough to take on the New England Pats and then travel to Arrowhead to play the Chiefs once again. Yikes.
San Diego has been far from dominant this year, but they've been a tough opponent in every game. Despite giving away a Week 1 game to the Houston Texans, the Chargers sit at 4-3.
The Chargers are performing well in most aspects of their game this year, yet not performing spectacularly in any either. While they boast one of the most efficient offenses in the league, they've struggled at converting yards into points.
That should be the difference-maker in this game. I don't think Denver will be able to run away with this one, but I just don't see San Diego keeping up against a well-rested Denver squad.
Score Prediction: Denver 31, San Diego 21
Updated Denver Record: 8-1
Week 11: Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos
Despite WR Dwayne Bowe being a total bust for my fantasy team this season, him, his teammates and the Kansas City fans are all enjoying a comeback season for the Chiefs. (see above photo)
After going a lowly 2-14 last season, new head coach Andy Reid has turned things around. With a defense that's been giving up only 11.6 points per game and an offense that makes few mistakes, the Chiefs have rolled to a 7-0 record.
That said, the Chiefs will likely be 9-0 and well-rested when they take on Denver in the Mile High City.
Kansas City is going to win this game because of the pressure they will be able to put on Peyton Manning. They are leading the NFL in sacks this year, and I don't see them slowing down. The Chiefs defense will hold the Denver offense to a season low in points scored, and Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles will show the league that the Chiefs offense is not only there to manage the game.
It'll be a great game, and the toughest match yet for either team, but in the end, it will be loss number two for the Broncos and win number 10 for the Chiefs.
Score Prediction: Kansas City 28, Denver 24
Updated Denver Record: 8-2
Week 12: Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots
In what will be the marquee game of the week, the Denver Broncos will travel to Foxborough and treat NFL fans to another installment of Brady vs. Manning.
Years from now, the Brady vs. Manning rivalry will go down as one of the best in NFL history. With more games behind us then in the future, this game should be cherished and watched by all sports fans.
The Patriots handed Denver one of its three losses last year, yet this was early in the season when Denver was still coming together as a new team with Manning as quarterback.
Denver should fair better in this game. The Patriots have taken a noticeable step back this year, as Tom Brady is struggling to adapt to the young, new skill players around him. With that, the return of wide receiver Wes Welker will be a huge storyline, as it seems now that the Patriots should have done more to keep him in town.
This game will be exciting, yet not as much as some other Brady/Manning games we've seen.
Score Prediction: Denver 34, New England 26
Updated Denver Record: 9-2
Week 13: Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs
Coming off a feel-good win against the Patriots, Denver will come into Arrowhead to take on the still undefeated Chiefs.
This game will go better for the Broncos. Running more two tight end sets to aid in the pass-rush blocking, Peyton Manning will have more time in the pocket to find his receivers. With the Chiefs blitzing early and often, Manning will have huge success running screen routes, and Wes Welker will tear up the Chiefs' defensive backfield.
This will be another exciting game, and Denver will hand the Chiefs their first, and in my opinion only, loss of the season.
Score Prediction: Denver 27, Kansas City 16
Updated Denver Record 10-2
Week 14: Tennessee Titans @ Denver Broncos
The Titans haven't been very good this year. They are far from the league's worst team, but they've looked awful against opponents with winning records.
The Titans are going to be coming into this game extremely worn out and having lost their last three. They play the Colts in Week 11 and, then, go on the road to play Oakland in Week 12. Then, they fly back to Indianapolis to play the Colts in Week 13.
That's a ton of travel time and jet lag. I see the Titans losing all three of those games and this one to the Broncos, which will all but shut the doors on their 2013 campaign. It takes enough energy as it is to play tough as a visitor in Denver. After traveling for nearly a month, there's no hope for Tennessee.
Score Prediction: Denver 41, Tennessee 17
Updated Denver Record: 11-2
Week 15: San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos
Division foes are always tough matchups, but Denver will be rolling into this game amid a three game winning streak and enjoying the luxury of their second home game in a row.
After having faced the Chiefs and the Bengals in the two preceding weeks to this game, the Chargers are going to be tired.
Still, the Chargers are going to be very much in the hunt for the AFC Wild Card at this point. The AFC isn't too strong, and the fight for that No. 6 seed will be a good one. (Whoever doesn't win the AFC West, the Broncos or the Chiefs, will get the No. 5 seed in the AFC.)
Ultimately, Denver's momentum and the Chargers' inability to score will doom San Diego.
Score Prediction: Denver 37, San Diego 21
Updated Denver Record: 12-2
Week 16: Denver Broncos @ Houston Texans
When the 2013 NFL schedule was made, I'm sure the league thought that this would be a very exciting Week 16 matchup between two of the AFC's best teams.
Well, they were half right.
The Houston Texans have been the bust of 2013 so far. Despite boasting All-Stars at multiple positions, the Texans have looked a mess this year. Their offense has been unable to get anything going and their defense has struggled to keep up with being on the field so much.
It's far too early to count Houston out, however. They have some easy games in their schedule and the absolute gift of playing the Jacksonville Jaguars twice in three weeks. Houston will be playing for a lot in this game, and I think that it's going to come through in the final score.
This one will be a thriller and will have huge playoff implications. With the Denver loss, the Kansas City Chiefs will officially clinch the AFC West and the No. 1 seed in the AFC, while Denver, still holding the second best record in the AFC, will clinch the No. 5 seed in the playoffs, becoming one of the strongest Wild Card teams ever.
Score Prediction: Houston 38, Denver 35
Updated Denver Record: 12-3
Week 17: Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders
Neither team will be playing for anything in this game, as Oakland will be long out of playoff contention and Denver will have the No. 5 seed in the playoffs locked up. Because of this, expect low attendance, low excitement and a lot of backup play for Denver.
The Denver starters will see the field for about half the game, at which time John Fox will replace them with backups wherever he can. Not wanting to risk the health of anyone, backups included, before the playoffs, expect a lot of simple run plays for Denver.
Backup quarterback Brock Osweiler and the Denver B-squad should still be good enough to beat the Raiders, however. I'll say that tight end Jacob Tamme and running back Ronnie Hillman have big games playing in their extended roles.
This will put a wrap on a successful 2013 season for the Denver Broncos. Their next stop will be a road trip to face the No. 4 seed in the AFC playoffs, which could be, drum roll please, Indianapolis.
Peyton back at Lucas Oil Stadium for a playoff matchup against the Colts? Twitter should just break itself now.
Score Prediction: Denver 27, Oakland 20
Final Denver Record: 13-3, 2nd in the AFC West, 5th Seed in the AFC Playoffs