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These are the most important games on the Denver Broncos schedule

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There are a handful of games that will be critical to the outcome of the Denver Broncos 2017 season.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

As we break down the Denver Broncos 2017 regular season schedule, I kept gravitating to a handful of games. Those are games that will decide the fate of the Broncos season.

Broncos 2017 Schedule

Wk Date Opponent Time (MT) TV
Wk Date Opponent Time (MT) TV
1 Sep 11 vs. Los Angeles Chargers (MNF) 8:20 PM ESPN
2 Sep 17 vs. Dallas Cowboys 2:25 PM FOX
3 Sep 24 at Buffalo Bills 11:00 AM CBS
4 Oct 1 vs. Oakland Raiders 2:25 PM CBS
5 BYE
6 Oct 15 vs. New York Giants (SNF) 6:30 PM NBC
7 Oct 22 at Los Angeles Chargers 2:25 PM CBS
8 Oct 30 at Kansas City Cheifs (MNF) 6:30 PM ESPN
9 Nov 5 at Philadelphia Eagles 11:00 AM CBS
10 Nov 12 vs. New England Patriots (SNF) 6:25 PM NBC
11 Nov 19 vs. Cincinnati Bengals 2:25 PM CBS
12 Nov 26 at Oakland Raiders 2:25 PM CBS
13 Dec 3 at Miami Dolphins 11:00 AM CBS
14 Dec 10 vs. New York Jets 2:00 PM CBS
15 Dec 14 at Indianapolis Colts (TNF) 6:25 PM NFLN
16 Dec 24 at Washington Redskins 11:00 AM CBS
17 Dec 31 vs. Kansas City Chiefs 2:25 PM CBS

We’ll cover the obvious ones first, then get into the few huge conference games that will likely decide the Broncos playoff fates in 2017. The good news is that the Broncos schedule doesn’t seem as daunting as it could have been.

1. AFC West home games (Weeks 1, 4 and 17)

This one is a given. The Broncos must take down their division rivals in Mile High Stadium. If they can do that, then they will have a reasonable chance to take the AFC West back after having its five-year reign come to an end last season.

Andrew Mason from DenverBroncos.com had some excellent breakdowns of each home matchup in a Facebook post soon after the schedule was released.

WEEK 1: L.A. CHARGERS - MON, SEPT. 11, 8:20 P.M. MDT (ESPN)

... Denver will open at home for the seventh consecutive season, including six games in prime time.

... The Broncos have won five consecutive season openers.

... This will be the Broncos' first Monday Night Football regular-season opener since 2011, when they fell 23-20 to Oakland.

... The last time the Broncos began their season against the Chargers was in 1994. Denver lost a 37-34 shootout at Mile High Stadium.

... This will be Vance Joseph's first regular-season game as head coach. He becomes the 12th head coach to open his Broncos tenure with a Week 1 game; the previous 11 head coaches are 10-1. John Fox is the only coach in Broncos history to begin his tenure with a Week 1 defeat.

... The Broncos are 3-3 in Monday Night Football regular-season openers.

WEEK 4: OAKLAND - SUN, OCT. 1, 2:25 P.M. MDT (CBS)

... After making three consecutive late-season trips to Denver, the Raiders will make their Front Range visit in the season's first quarter for the first time since a Monday night game on Sept. 23, 2013. That marked the third consecutive year in which the Raiders played at Denver in Weeks 1-4.

... The Broncos have won four of their last five games against the Raiders in Denver. That represents a nice turnaround from a four-game home losing streak the team suffered at Oakland's hands from 2008-11.

WEEK 17: KANSAS CITY - SUN., DEC. 31, 2:25 P.M. MST (CBS)

... Per the NFL's scheduling protocol to mandate intra-division games in Week 17, the Broncos will close with an AFC West opponent for the 10th consecutive season. This will mark the first time the Chiefs come to Denver for the regular-season finale since 2012. Denver closed the 2009, 2011 and 2012 campaigns at home against the Chiefs, going 1-2 in those contests.

... Denver has won five consecutive games to close the regular season after losing four in succession from 2008-11. Kansas City has won three consecutive regular-season finales.

2. Beat the New England Patriots in Week 10

Here’s another no-brainer. Tom Brady has historically struggled in Denver and this team should be angry about the 16-3 home defeat the team suffered in 2016. If the Broncos want to compete for playoff positioning or even get to the playoffs, beating the Patriots will go a long way towards bolstering confidence and gaining momentum down the home stretch.

Plus its Sunday Night Football. Losing to Brady in prime time would be a massive blow to this teams confidence. Here’s what Mason had to say:

WEEK 10: NEW ENGLAND - SUN., NOV. 12, 6:30 P.M. MST (NBC)

... Another year, another game with the Patriots. The teams will meet for the seventh consecutive year in the regular season (and for the ninth time in the last 10 years).

... The schedule rotation gives the Broncos their third consecutive year with a home game against the Patriots, which followed three straight seasons in which the teams met in New England. If the Broncos and Patriots finish this year in the same spot in their respective divisions, their 2018 game would be at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

... This could be the final time Tom Brady plays in Denver. Unless they meet in the postseason in the next few years, the Patriots will not return to Denver after this year until at least 2021.

... Including the postseason, the Broncos are 21-10 all-time at home against the Patriots.

... Denver is 7-3 against the Pats since moving into Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

3. Take down the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15

I think the Colts bounce back in 2017 and with Andrew Luck under center it makes that prediction more likely than not. Given that fact, going on the road into Indy and beating the Colts on Thursday Night Football would be huge for the Broncos. They would get a mini-bye with two games to go in the season and potentially in strong position for a deep playoff run.

This might be the impossible game, as Andrew Mason noted below. They Broncos will have to travel multiple timezones in a matter of days and play in a stadium where they are 3-8 all-time. Not good, but if they can pull it off it would be huge. Here are some of Mason’s notes on this game.

WEEK 15: AT INDIANAPOLIS - THU., DEC. 14, 8:25 P.M. EST (NBC/NFLN/AMAZON)

... This is perhaps the Broncos' roughest road trip, as they will have to travel two time zones on a short week for their only Thursday game of the season.

... This is expected to be the Broncos' "Color Rush" game for the season, and there is no reason why they would not wear the orange-on-orange uniform that they donned for last year's loss at San Diego. Indianapolis' "Color Rush" combination incorporates blue jerseys, blue pants, blue socks and blue shoes, so there would be no color clash. It would be the Colts' first game in blue pants since 1995. That year, they opened the season wearing blue pants with white jerseys before ditching the white-on-blue look after a slow start.

... The Broncos will head to Indiana hoping to snap a six-game road losing streak against the Colts, which includes two playoff defeats.

Denver is 3-8 all-time at Indianapolis, including the postseason.

4. Steal an AFC West road game (Weeks 7, 8 and 12)

So let’s say the above happens. That is five wins, so let’s say they merely split the other 8 games against teams not mentioned in this post for a 4-4 record. That puts the Broncos at 9 wins. We can reasonably assume that 10 wins gets them into the playoffs, which means they would need to steal a game from a division rival.

On the road against the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football is an unlikely proposition, but both their other games at the Los Angeles Chargers and Oakland Raiders could be winnable as are most divisional games.

If they take just one road game and protect their home games, that 4-2 division record will be vitally important to the Broncos playoff hopes. We’ll end with a little more from Mason on these division road games.

WEEK 7: AT L.A. CHARGERS - SUN, OCT. 22, 1:25 P.M. PDT (CBS)

... This will be the Broncos' first game in the Los Angeles area since a Dec. 11, 1994 loss to the then-Los Angeles Raiders. Denver also lost to the Rams at Anaheim Stadium that same season. Both the Raiders and Rams moved away from Southern California in the first six months of 1995.

... The Chargers will call the Los Angeles area home for the first time since 1960. Denver fell 41-33 to the Chargers in a Dec. 10, 1960 game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Chargers began their 56-season stay in San Diego the following season.

... Denver hopes to start a new streak against the Chargers after having its five-game road winning streak against them snapped last October in a 21-13 Thursday Night Football defeat.

... The Broncos are 6-5 all-time in road games against the Chargers started by QB Philip Rivers.

WEEK 8: AT KANSAS CITY - MON., OCT. 30, 7:30 P.M. CDT (ESPN)

... Another year, another trip to Arrowhead Stadium in prime time. This will mark the fourth consecutive year in which the Broncos' trip to Kansas City was played in prime time. The other games took place on Sunday or Thursday nights.

... Denver's five-game winning streak at Kansas City was snapped last Christmas in a 33-10 defeat that eliminated them from the playoffs.

... This will mark the first time the Broncos have visited Kansas City in October since 2003, when they suffered a 24-23 loss on Oct. 5.

... Including the postseason, Denver is 20-25 all-time at Arrowhead Stadium, but has gone 7-3 in the last decade there.

WEEK 12: AT OAKLAND - SUN., NOV. 26, 1:25 P.M. PST (CBS)

... Last season's loss at Oakland ended the Broncos' five-game wining streak at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

... Denver is 16-6 in Oakland since the Raiders returned there following a 13-season stint in Los Angeles.

... This is the first Broncos-Raiders game to take place on Thanksgiving weekend since 2004, when Oakland defeated Denver 25-24 on Sunday Night Football.

So what do you think, Broncos Country? The Broncos would need to run this gauntlet, which is unlikely. The more likely outcome is they would need to finish 5-3 or 6-2 on those other eight unmentioned games, but going 6-2 or 7-1 at home is absolutely necessary for this team in 2017.

Oh, and give Mason a follow on Twitter or Facebook. He is a must for any Bronco fan.

Poll

How many wins do the Broncos get in 2017?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    12+
    (100 votes)
  • 28%
    11
    (264 votes)
  • 37%
    10
    (351 votes)
  • 13%
    9
    (128 votes)
  • 4%
    8
    (46 votes)
  • 2%
    7
    (22 votes)
  • 2%
    6 or less
    (21 votes)
932 votes total Vote Now