When the Broncos' 2014 schedule's opponents were finalized this week, many people reacted with the same question:
"Why are the Broncos playing IN Foxboro for the third straight year?!"
The outrage is understandable; Peyton Manning is probably considering buying a house in Boston at this point. The Broncos will have had to travel to New England for three straight seasons in 2014, with no road trips to Denver for the Patriots in between.
There is no recent conspiracy or new east coast bias; in fact, this schedule was arranged years in advance. For better or worse (but we think it's worse), this is just how the NFL schedule-makers set things up years ago.
Teams rotate through divisions in the AFC and NFC, and only two games each season are based upon the previous season's record. For example, the Broncos already know who they'll play in 2015: six AFC West games, four NFC North games, four AFC North games, then two games against AFC opponents in the AFC South and AFC East with the same division record as the Broncos finish in 2014. You can see this unofficially documented at JohnnyRoadTrip.com - Denver's upcoming schedule through 2019 is posted on that site.
You will note that, in 2015, that game against the AFC East opponent will be a home game for Broncos. In fact, in 2016 it will be as well.
|Broncos tentative schedule vs. the Patriots and the AFC East|
Why the NFL decided to make those home-away games back-to-back is beyond me, but if the NFL continues in its current trend, it is possible that New England will be traveling to Denver for three straight years (should they finish with the same division record). That's the bright side to this back-to-back-to-back scheduling scenario: the buck might get repaid in the near future.
The even brighter side? Should the Broncos take care of business and win their next two games (their Week 17 regular season finale and their divisional playoff game), the only way the New England Patriots could advance to the Super Bowl would be through Denver.
Beating the Patriots at home in the playoffs would be the sweetest revenge to the NFL's scheduling injustice.