Predicting the Broncos schedule, and our schedule wish list
By: Dave Collins, Eagle Radio Chadron Sports Director
The NFL releases its regular season schedule next month. A few games will trickle out before the full release in April, like the season opener on Thursday, September 10, which will in all likelihood see the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs hosting a marquee opponent.
Let’s have some fun predicting what the Denver Broncos schedule will look like, and look at our “wishful" schedule for the upcoming season while we wait for sports to return and for the NFL Draft!
Predicted & Wishful Broncos Schedule
Week 1 – Sept. 14 (Monday) – Predicted: Chargers at Broncos / Wishful: Chargers at Broncos
· Melvin Gordon is now a Bronco, Chris Harris is now a Charger. A division rivalry game in the 8:20 p.m. ESPN slot will be enticing for ESPN, especially with two of the best players for each team switching jersey colors.
Week 2 – Sept. 20 – Predicted: Broncos at Panthers / Wishful: Broncos at Jets
· Denver gets a look at new Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater early in the season. Schedule makers like to send Denver to the East Coast for cross-conference games early in the year and I’m betting Carolina is Denver’s first trip. I’d like to see the road trip to New York early with a better chance to see a healthy Sam Darnold and Drew Lock in an awesome young QB match-up, plus this is a tricky road game that would be beneficial to get out of the way early and in good weather.
Week 3 – Sept 27 – Predicted: Dolphins at Broncos / Wishful: Titans at Broncos
· Miami is spending a lot of money in free agency and will be a much different team than the one that looked vastly overmatched in 2019. One major mock draft has Miami taking Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovaiola, which could mean another solid young QB showdown. If Denver gets Tennessee early rather than late, it would be a big early home game opportunity to build confidence over a playoff team with a win.
Week 4 – October 4 – Predicted: Broncos at Jets / Wishful: Broncos at Chiefs
· Denver will spend a lot of time on the eastern seaboard this year with its schedule rotation hitting the AFC East. Following a Dolphins trip to Denver the Broncos get on a jet, to face the Jets, in New York. Again, the Sam Darnold and Drew Lock matching-up is enticing, two young guns trying to prove themselves early in the season, and La’Veon Bell will have to find ways to navigate a Denver defense that has had some nice upgrades and will get Bradley Chubb back to compliment Von Miller. It would be good to get the Chiefs out of the way early on the road, maybe catch them with a Super Bowl hangover.
Week 5 – October 8 (Thursday) – Predicted: Raiders at Broncos / Wishful: Bucs at Broncos
· Denver’s one and only Thursday night game needs to be a divisional rivalry in order to draw up a national audience this year. It doesn’t get more “rivalry” than the Raiders. Weather is usually still pretty good in early-to-mid October and I’d like to see Tom Brady with his new team fairly early on when both teams have a dog in the hunt.
Week 6 – October 18 – Predicted: at Falcons (London) / Wishful: at Falcons (London)
· Atlanta is already assured of an international game in London and reports are that the Broncos are a popular choice for their opponent. Denver has a strong worldwide following and after playing Vegas at home they’ll get 10 days off to travel and prepare for this early morning kickoff, look for an 8:00 a.m. local time start, which would be 2:00 in the afternoon in London.
Week 7 – October 25 – Predicted: BYE / Wishful: BYE
· Who wouldn’t want an extra week off to get re-acclimated to the Mountain Time Zone after a trip overseas? This seems like a no-brainer. If Denver gets an international game this year they’ll have a bye the week following no matter when it hits the official schedule. Right in the middle of the season is perfect for a bye week for a re-charge to be ready for a playoff push.
Week 8 – November 1 – Predicted: Broncos at Chargers / Wishful: Raiders at Broncos
· Back to divisional play to start November and finish out the first half of the season. It’s a close trip to California to face the Chargers, a break Denver should receive after going overseas. I definitely want to see a divisional game following London, and a home game would be my preference to cut down on travel lag with half a season to go. The Raiders will be the most-winnable division game, so why not have it at home following the longest road trip to ease into the second half?
Week 9 – November 8 – Predicted: Titans at Broncos / Wishful: Broncos at Panthers
· It makes sense to give Denver two home games next and the Titans fit in nicely here. There were some whispers that Tennessee running back Derrick Henry could land in Denver if the Titans couldn't sign him but he was franchise-tagged and will be a force for the Denver defense to try and stop. But, with a bye and a home game I’m good with Denver hitting the road for a trip to Carolina to face the Panthers mid-season. Too much time at home in one chunk can lead to distractions and complacency. A tough NFC road game should re-focus the team for the stretch run.
Week 10 – Nov 16 (Monday) – Predicted: Chiefs at Broncos / Wishful: Broncos at Chargers (Sunday)
· Division rivals meet for Denver’s only Monday Night Football appearance. A strong rivalry, the Super Bowl champs come in as the “better team” but make the sacrifice of a road game to give TV executives hope for a more compelling game. I’d rather see the close road game against an easier opponent to follow Carolina.
Week 11 – Nov 22 – Predicted: Broncos at Patriots / Wishful: Bills at Broncos
· The Sunday before Thanksgiving could see the Broncos return east to face the Patriots. When it was Brady vs. Manning this game was great to see later in the season, and also created the vibe of this match-up always being of late-season importance. Even though both of those Hall-of-Fame signal callers are gone, I think the late-season sentiment created will carry over this fall and position this game for the back-half of the slate. Oh and simply put, I want to celebrate my birthday week with a non-traditional opponent, and a home game, so I can be in the stands!
Week 12 – Nov 29 – Predicted: Bucs at Broncos / Wishful: Broncos at Patriots
· Tom Brady brings his new team to Denver – a place he’s played with playoff implications on the line and Super Bowl berths up for grabs. Denver is the only opponent Brady doesn’t have a career winning record against and the Bucs should be driving for the NFL playoffs at this point. Hopefully the Broncos will be too and whether it’s Tampa or at Brady’s old house in New England, Week 12 should deliver the goods.
Week 13 – Dec 6 – Predicted: Broncos at Raiders / Wishful: Chiefs at Broncos
· With five games to go the playoff push gets really strong and divisional games come back into focus. The Broncos go to Las Vegas, or maybe Oakland, to begin December. While reports are saying the new Raiders stadium will be ready for this season, the team officially has until April 1 to announce if it will play in Vegas or return to Oakland for one more year while construction finishes up. It’s interesting to note that the Raider website lists the Las Vegas Bowl and Pac-12 Championship but no mention of 2020 Raiders home games yet…meaning it still might not be decided. I thought we were finally done with the Black Hole, but maybe not until 2021. The clock is ticking….
Week 14 – Dec 13 – Predicted: Broncos at Steelers / Wishful: Saints at Broncos (Sunday Night Football)
· Cold weather. Steel. Grit. Factories. Tradition. Snow. I think the NFL sends Denver to Pittsburgh for an intriguing challenge to Pittsburgh’s effort to make the playoffs at a time the weather could be a factor and the game could be a grinder. Wouldn't you love to see Drew Brees and the high-flying Saints with former Bronco Emmanuel Sanders come back to Denver for a national TV night game?
Week 15 – December 20 – Predicted: Saints at Broncos / Wishful: Broncos at Steelers
· Drew Brees signed a $50 million deal to quarterback the Saints for two more seasons. Drew Lock may be looking to lead Denver into the playoffs. If both teams have big playoff implications NBC could flex this game into Sunday Night Football, and I think it’s Denver’s only shot to play under the lights on Sunday night.
Week 16 – Dec 27 – Predicted: Bills at Broncos / Wishful: Dolphins at Broncos
· John Elway – Jim Kelly. What great December and January games those two played decades ago when the AFC championship always seemed to go through Denver or Buffalo. The Bills snagged a huge playmaker in Stephon Diggs from Minnesota, a guy that the Broncos were rumored to be in play for as a potential landing spot for the super receiver. If the Broncos are in playoff contention I’d rather see Miami here as opposed to Tennessee.
Week 17 – Jan 3 – Predicted: Broncos at Chiefs / Wishful: Broncos at Raiders
· The final Sunday before the playoffs is always a divisional game and the Chiefs get the break here with a home date as a small reward for the defending Super Bowl champs who may be playing for home field advantage. Since I have Denver hoping to start the season at home, we have to put them in a road game to close it out. Why not the Raiders? It should be the weakest divisional opponent, and by following the Dolphins Denver gets two very winnable games to clinch a playoff berth.