Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Looking ahead to next year
What a wild run the Broncos have taken their on over the last seven seasons following their 2005 13-3-0 regular season with a trip to the AFC Championship game
That success was followed by a 9-7-0 season which was, in turn, followed by a 7-9-0 one. Then came back-to-back 8-8-0 seasons which sandwiched a head coaching change. Fans were next treated to a 4-12-0 disaster. Denver bounced back in 2011, finishing 8-8-0 with a divisional title and their first playoff win since 2005. The arrival of Peyton Manning and an eleven game winning streak had most fans believing that the Broncos were now the team of destiny. That belief was gut-punched by the Baltimore Ravens as they went on their merry way to a Super Bowl title.
Now that odds-makers have put the Broncos out in front of the NFL world by positing them an an early favorite to be in the next Super Bowl and given the fact that we are in that quiet period before Denver gears up for resigning current players, free agency and the NFL Draft, I thought it might be fun to take an initial look at those teams which will stand between the Broncos and a date in Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey.
Denver plays each of its three divisional rivals twice each season. Let's take a look at those three teams first.
Kansas City Chiefs
|2012 Finish||2-14-0||4th in AFC West|
|2012 Offense||32nd in Points||24th in Yards|
|2012 Defense||25th in Points||20th in Yards|
|2012 Take Away/Give Away Rank||31st|
|2012 Average Margin of Victory||-13.4|
The Broncos swept Kansas City in 2012, winning 17-9 in Kansas City 17-9 in Week 12 and 38-3 in Denver in Week 17.
Historically: Kansas City leads the series 56-49-0 (Home 36-16-0, Away 20-33-0). The teams are tied 1-1 in post-season meetings. Prior to the 2012 sweep by the Broncos, the two teams had split the season series each of the last four seeasons.
Point of Interest: The Chiefs have a new head coach and quite a number of questions at quarterback.
|2012 Finish||4-12-0||3rd in AFC West|
|2012 Offense||26th in Points||18th in Yards|
|2012 Defense||28th in Points||18th in Yards|
|2012 Take Away/Give Away Rank||23rd|
|2012 Average Margin of Victory||-9.6|
Denver swept the Raiders in 2012, winning 37-6 in Denver in Week 4 and 26-13 in Oakland in Week 14.
Historically: Oakland leads the series 59-44-2 (Home 31-22-0, Away 28-22-2). The teams are tied 1-1 in post-season meetings. Denver has won the last three meetings between the two.
Point of Interest: Former Broncos DC has been given a second season to prove himself as the Raiders' head coach while there is speculation that former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Carson Palmer may be on his way out.
|2012 Finish||7-9-0||2nd in AFC West|
|2012 Offense||20th in Points||31st in Yards|
|2012 Defense||16th in Points||9th in Yards|
|2012 Take Away/Give Away Rank||14th|
|2012 Average Margin of Victory||0.0|
Denver swept the Chargers in 2012, winning 35-24 in San Diego in Week 6 and 30-23 in Denver in Week 11.
Historically: Denver leads the series 57-48-1 (Home 36-16-1, Away 21-32-0). The teams have never played in the post-season. The Broncos have won the last three meetings.
Point of Interest: The Chargers will be led by former Bronco offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy. It will be interesting to see if he can maximize Philip Rivers' potential as he did with Tim Tebow.
Denver will play six games against AFC opponents. They play all of the teams in another AFC division each year -- this year it's the AFC South. The remaining two games are against teams that finished in the same position in their respective divisions as Denver did in the AFC West. That means that since Denver won their division they will face two other division winners. In this case, it will be Baltimore and New England.
|2012 Finish||2-14-0||4th in AFC South|
|2012 Offense||30th in Points||29th in Yards|
|2012 Defense||29th in Points||30th in Yards|
|2012 Take Away/Give Away Rank||21st|
|2012 Average Margin of Victory||-11.8|
The Broncos did not play the Jaguars in 2012.
Historically: Jacksonville leads the series 5-3-0 (Home 3-1-0, Away 2-2-0). The two are tied 1-1 in the post-season. The Jaguars have won the last three games.
Point of Interest: This is another team with a new head coach. It remains to be seen what kind of changes Gus Bradley will make -- particularly in regards to starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert and a defense that ranked near the bottom of the NFL in 2012.
|2012 Finish||6-10-0||3rd in AFC South|
|2012 Offense||23nd in Points||26th in Yards|
|2012 Defense||32nd in Points||27th in Yards|
|2012 Take Away/Give Away Rank||22nd|
|2012 Average Margin of Victory||-8.8|
The Broncos and the Titans did not play in 2012.
Historically: The Titans lead the series 21-14-1 (Home 14-6-0, Away 7-8-1) -- note, this series includes the years that the Titans were the Houston Oilers. The Broncos have won three of the last four meetings between the two teams.
Point of Interest: Titans head coach Mike Munchak will be in his 20th season on the Titans coaching staff -- he started in 1994 as an offensive assistant. He is 1-0 as a head coach versus the Broncos.
|2012 Finish||10-6-0||1st in AFC North|
|2012 Offense||10th in Points||16th in Yards|
|2012 Defense||12th in Points||17th in Yards|
|2012 Take Away/Give Away Rank||8th|
|2012 Average Margin of Victory||3.4|
Denver defeated Baltimore 34-17 in Baltimore in Week 15. The Ravens beat the Broncos 38-35 in double overtime in the Divisional Round of the 2012 playoffs.
Historically: Baltimore leads the series 5-4 (Home 4-1, Away 1-3) in the regular season. The Ravens lead the Broncos 2-0 in the post-season.
Point of Interest: Baltimore has won three of the last four meetings, but Peyton Manning is 9-3 against the Ravens. It will be interesting to see how much of a factor revenge plays in this matchup.
|2012 Finish||12-4-0||1st in AFC South|
|2012 Offense||8th in Points||7th in Yards|
|2012 Defense||9th in Points||7th in Yards|
|2012 Take Away/Give Away Rank||7th|
|2012 Average Margin of Victory||5.3|
The Texans defeated the Broncos 31-25 in Houston in Week 3 of 2012.
Historically: The series is tied 2-2-0. (Broncos 2-0 at home, 0-2 in Houston). The two have never met in the post-season.
Point of Interest: The teams have been alternating wins -- Denver won in 2004, Houston in 2007, Denver in 2010 and Houston in 2012. It will be interesting to see if Denver can win in 2013 to keep the pattern going.
|2012 Finish||11-5-0||2nd in AFC South|
|2012 Offense||18th in Points||10th in Yards|
|2012 Defense||21st in Points||26th in Yards|
|2012 Take Away/Give Away Rank||26th|
|2012 Average Margin of Victory||-1.9|
The two teams did not play in 2012.
Historically: The Broncos lead the series 11-8-0 (Home 6-3-0, Away 5-5-0) in the regular season. The Colts lead the series 2-0 in the post-season. Indianapolis has won the last five meetings, including a post-season victory in 2004 (though those were all with Manning at the helm).
Point of Interest: This will be the first time that Manning will face the team that gave up on him. It will be interesting to see how he approaches this game -- whether or not he feels he has an ax to grind or something to prove.
|2012 Finish||12-4-0||1st in AFC East|
|2012 Offense||1st in Points||1st in Yards|
|2012 Defense||9th in Points||25th in Yards|
|2012 Take Away/Give Away Rank||1st|
|2012 Average Margin of Victory||14.1|
The Patriots defeated the Broncos 31-21 in Foxborough in Week 5 of 2012.
Historically, the Broncos lead the series 25-18-0 (Home 16-9-0, Away 9-9-0) in the regular season. Denver also leads the post-season series 2-1. New England has won the last three meetings, including a playoff win in 2011.
Point of Interest: Manning is 7-11 versus the Patriots in the regular season. New England is one of only three teams against which Manning has a losing record -- the other two being Green Bay and Miami.
The final four games of the Broncos schedule each year are made up of all the teams from an NFC division. This year, the Broncos have drawn the NFC East. .
|2012 Finish||8-8-0||3rd in NFC East|
|2012 Offense||15th in Points||6th in Yards|
|2012 Defense||24th in Points||19th in Yards|
|2012 Take Away/Give Away Rank||27th|
|2012 Average Margin of Victory||-1.5|
Historically: Denver leads the regular season series 6-4-0 (Home 4-2-0, Away 2-2-0). The Cowboys lead the post season series 1-0 -- a 27-10 victory in Super Bowl XII. Denver has won the last four meetings.
Point of Interest: The Cowboys seem to be shaking up their coaching staff. There are also rumblings -- among the fans anyway -- that quarterback Tony Romo's days may be numbered.
New York Giants (Away)
|2012 Finish||9-7-0||2nd in NFC East|
|2012 Offense||6th in Points||14th in Yards|
|2012 Defense||12th in Points||31st in Yards|
|2012 Take Away/Give Away Rank||4th|
|2012 Average Margin of Victory||5.3|
Historically: The series is tied 5-5-0 (Denver is 4-1-0 at home and 1-4-0 away). The Giants lead the post-season series 1-0 (a 39-20 victory in Super Bowl XXI). The teams have alternated wins since 1989: New York won in 1989, Denver won in 1992, New York in 1998, Denver in 2001, New York in 2005 and Denver in 2009.
Point of Interest: The Manning brothers each have two Super Bowl appearances but Eli has two rings to Peyton's one. However, Peyton has never lost to his little brother in the regular season, beating Eli 26-21 in 2006 and 38-14 in 2010.
|2012 Finish||4-12-0||4th in NFC East|
|2012 Offense||29th in Points||15th in Yards|
|2012 Defense||29th in Points||15th in Yards|
|2012 Take Away/Give Away Rank||31st|
|2012 Average Margin of Victory||-10.3|
Historically: The Redskins lead the regular season series 7-4-0 (Home 5-1-0, Away 2-3). The two have never met in the post-season. Denver has won two of the last three games -- winning in 1998 and 2005 while losing in 2009.
Point of Interest: The Eagles are a franchise that tried to imitate a shipwreck in 2012. It will be interesting to see if a head coaching (and possible quarterback change) can right the ship. Manning will do his best to sink their hopes -- he is 3-1 against the Eagles.
|2012 Finish||10-6-0||1st in NFC East|
|2012 Offense||4th in Points||5th in Yards|
|2012 Defense||22nd in Points||28th in Yards|
|2012 Take Away/Give Away Rank||3rd|
|2012 Average Margin of Victory||3.0|
2012 Finish: 10-6-0, 1st in NFC East
2012 Offense: 4th in Points, 5th in Yards
2012 Defense: 22nd in Points, 28th in Yards
2012 Take Away/Give Away Ranking: 3rd
2012 Average Margin of Victory: 3.0
Historically: Denver leads the regular season series 6-5-0 (Home 4-2-0, Away 2-3-0). Washington leads the post-season series 1-0 (a 42-10 victory in Super Bowl XXII). The teams have alternated wins in the last four meetings with Denver winning in 1998, Washington in 2001, Denver in 2005 and Washington in 2009.
Point of Interest: Shanahan tends to do an extra good job of preparing for former teams (look what his Broncos did the Raiders). However, Manning is 3-1-0 versus the Redskins and 7-1 versus Shanahan led teams. It will also be a face-off between the wily veteran and the much-hyped sophomore quarterbacks.
Here's to Denver having a great 2013 season. Go Broncos !!!!