We know the common opponents already. If you haven't seen them, they are:
|Kansas City Chiefs||Kansas City Chiefs|
|Oakland Raiders||Oakland Raiders|
|San Diego Chargers||San Diego Chargers|
|Buffalo Bills||New England Patriots|
|Miami Dolphins||New York Jets|
|Arizona Cardinals||St. Louis Rams|
|San Francisco 49ers||Seattle Seahawks|
|Indianapolis Colts||Cincinnati Bengals|
What we don't know is when we are playing these teams. Do we open the season against the Seahawks? Do we close the season against the Seahawks? What about the 49ers and Patriots and Colts? Where should we play them? Is it better to test this team by throwing them into the fire early? Is it better to get the Broncos playoff ready by playing these teams late? Does any of it even matter being that it is a new season and the teams we think are going to be tough will be cupcakes and the teams we think will be cupcakes will be tough?
I'm picking four games to look at and ask the following question, "Which week do you think the Broncos should play the following team?"
The teams I'm picking are naturally the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, and the Indianapolis Colts.
These are the four teams that have the best chance of staying dominant as well as the four teams that represent the metal that the Broncos have to show in order to prepare themselves for the post season. Here is my take on each of those four games:
at New England Patriots:
Why oh why do we always have to play these guys in New England? (Here's the answer). Zip it Goodell, we've heard your "company line", but I'm not buying it! Either way, maybe playing the Patriots in a hostile environment is best in order to get the Broncos "playoff ready." When do I think the Broncos should play the Patriots? I'm thinking I'd like to play them somewhere in the middle-late part of the season (meaning week 9-12).
Peyton vs Brady is an annual event, and both teams know each other which is why I'd like this game to be the "kickstarter" to our playoff push. Broncos versus Patriots will be a big game, but not an unusual game which makes it the perfect warm up game for much harder teams left on the schedule. Bring on the Patriots!!! But only in weeks 9-12.
vs Indianapolis Colts:
I would love to see the Colts as our home opener. Last year in Indianapolis, Peyton Manning was very obviously distracted and rattled from the time he stepped off the plane. He looked overly emotional on the sideline pre-game as the city honored him, and he looked disinterested in playing the game while he stood on the sidelines after each drive. The crowd had no problem rooting against Peyton, yet it appeared as if Peyton had a huge problem with wanting to silence the crowd. He looked almost embarrassed to be wearing a Broncos uniform that day as his heart appeared to still be in Indy.
This is a ghost that needs to be exorcised, and what better time or venue to do it than Week 1 at Mile High Stadium!? Let's kick this season off with style and get the Broncos revenge tour into midseason form from the get go. Bring on the Colts week 1 baby! There will be no Andrew Luck banners sullying up our stadium!
at Seattle Seahawks:
Bring it Seahawks! Guess what? I don't think you're gonna be any good this year! I think your magic has run out. I think that you'll be lucky to make the playoffs this year. But do you know what? You did beat our asses pretty convincingly the last time I saw you on the field. 43-8 is a scar that, while healed, still itches because of the nerve damage. This demon needs to be exorcised, and this team needs to be put in their place.
Some want this game to be the first of the season, but I say "no no no". I want both of these teams to be in post season form. I want there to be no excuses for when the Broncos wipe the floor with them in Seattle. I want a defining moment for the 2014 season, and I want it bad. Does this mean that I want them to close the season? Not exactly.
See, I want this game to happen towards the last quarter of the season (weeks 14-16) because I want Seattle to still have to play for their playoff life. I don't want this game to be the Broncos vs Cupcakes. I don't want the Broncos to enter the playoffs having beat an "also ran" team. Playing the Seahawks towards the end but not at the end of the season will do just that, and if I'm wrong and the Seahawks are 13-1 when we play them, it'll still be too early for them to bench players, thus assuring we'd play them full strength.
vs San Francisco 49ers:
In my not so humble opinion, this will be the game of the year for the Broncos. The 49ers have an amazing defense and a much more balanced offense than the Seahawks. They were in the Super Bowl 2 years ago, and had the Seahawks on the ropes in the NFC Championship Game. This team is scary and nasty. This is the team to fear next year.
Thankfully, this is a home game for the Broncos which means that we'll moonwalk all over them (OK, probably not). Regardless, this is the game I want in the last two weeks of the regular season. Ideally I'd like this to be our week 17 game, but there is no telling what our record will be or their record, and I'd like both squads to be full strength. This game will be the "test our metal" game. If we can't beat them at home, then how in the world are we going to beat anybody in the Super Bowl? This is a must win game, and the schedule hasn't even been released yet!
As you can see, I want these powerhouse teams towards the end of the season with the lone exception being the Colts. While I don't want to play any back to back to back games against these opponents, I do want them all within a few weeks of each other in order to really test the Broncos. All of this comes with a big caveat of "we assume that last year's cupcakes will be this year's cupcakes, and last year's powerhouses will be this year's powerhouses." We all know that the season won't go down like that, but that's a discussion left for the regular season. Until the NFL gets underway, we all have to suspend reality a bit and go off of what the most recent season told us.
Let me know what you all think in the comments below. Do you prefer to save these tougher games for the end? The beginning? Does it even matter? Lets hear it Broncos fans!!!