It has been less than a week since the Denver Broncos were routed 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII by the Seattle Seahawks. How long the disappointment will hang over the team and its fans is anyone's guess.
The Broncos face an important offseason in which they will try to keep most of the team that won the AFC intact. Key players such as Eric Decker, Knowshon Moreno and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on March 11.
The loss Denver suffered on Sunday at MetLife Stadium isn't the kind of loss a team can just shrug off. It's the kind of loss that lingers and sticks with you until you can do something to overcome it.
The opportunity to do that won't come for awhile.
In the meantime, the Broncos need to do what they can to absorb the defeat and let it drive them to get back to the big game next season.
But once the 2014 season starts, the NFL has the opportunity to kick things off in a major way.
For the past 10 seasons, the NFL has started the season with the defending Super Bowl champion hosting a game. The lone exception came last season when Baltimore was forced to go on the road due to a scheduling conflict with the Baltimore Orioles.
In that game, Baltimore came to Sports Authority Field to face the Broncos, the same team they eliminated in miraculous fashion in the divisional round of the playoffs.
The Broncos not only had that bad taste in their mouth all offseason, but they had to watch a Ravens team, that they were within a couple plays of defeating, win the Super Bowl.
Peyton Manning came out and tied an NFL record by throwing seven touchdown passes in that game as the Broncos went on to pummel Baltimore, 49-27. Revenge was sweet for the Broncos, and it helped propel them to a great 2013 season.
2014 could begin in very similar fashion, but the challenge would be stiff.
The Broncos are scheduled to play against the four teams in the NFC West next season. That includes Seattle, which is a road game.
It appears to be a perfect opportunity for the NFL to grab some very high ratings with what will be one of the most anticipated matchups of the entire year.
Yes, the Broncos were defeated by 35 points by a very strong Seattle team and the Seahawks have lost just one game at home in the last two seasons.
Some fans of the Broncos may be intimidated by the matchup based on the results of the Super Bowl, but if the teams are scheduled to face off no matter what, why not have it happen right off the bat?
If Denver could go into Seattle and avenge their Super Bowl defeat by handing the Seahawks an extremely rare loss at home, it would be massive for Denver.
Looking at it from the league's perspective, there are three teams on the Seahawks' schedule that could be considered a matchup juicy enough to start the season with.
San Francisco and Seattle have developed arguably the best rivalry in the league. They played an incredible NFC Championship game after splitting the regular season series.
If the NFL decided to start the season with San Francisco versus Seattle, it would be hard to argue.
Green Bay presents another intriguing option.
Then you have the Broncos.
It won't be often the NFL has a chance to match up the two teams that played each other in the previous Super Bowl.
It could be an historic game and, if it happens, the Broncos and their fans should embrace it.
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