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Looking at the Broncos’ best non-division games in 2019

I’ve got the Bears, Packers and Browns circled on my calendar.

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NFL: Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country!

It’s no longer SBNation’s random “Revenge Week,” but it is the doldrums of the offseason so it’s time for other random topics to fill our daily Broncos discussion.

So today’s topic du jour will be “Best non-division games on the schedule.”

Normally, this wouldn’t interest me much at all, but this coming season has several games against teams Broncos don’t normally play that should provide a lot of excitement, nostalgia, perhaps a tiny bit of rivalry and hopefully some surprisingly good play all-around.

In order of schedule - and not of importance - here are my favorites to look forward to this season:

Week 2: Bears at Broncos

I recently joined my friend Larry Dyer III for his Bears Talk Underground podcast to specifically talk about this game, which is partly why it’s on my list.

Dyer reminded me about the last time our teams met in the regular season and we did a podcast together - the Bears had just hired John Fox (which meant I naturally warned him about Fox’s most bizarre press conference quote regarding how “hard it is to measure what’s behind the left nipple.”) and the Broncos had just hired Gary Kubiak.

When the two faced each other in November 2015, Brock Osweiler was filling in for an injured Peyton Manning, and the Broncos escaped with a win when its offense punted on seven of 12 possessions and turned it over on one. It was a quintessential 2015 Broncos game where the defense saved the offense’s ass just in the knick of time.

This season when the two teams meet, both will have different coaches at the helm and new attitudes on deck.

Chicago’s Matt Nagy will be in his second year after successfully leading the Bears to an NFC North title and their first playoff appearance since 2010. Broncos’ Vic Fangio - who was plucked from the Bears - will be aiming to get his new team back to winning ways and also prove to his old team that he’s head coaching material (though, honestly, I doubt Fangio cares much about showing his old team anything because he doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy to feel like he has to prove things to anyone.)

But all this background will set a nice stage for media stories that week and will make the non-division, non-conference game a fun test in its home opener for a revived Denver team.

Week 3: Broncos at Packers

I’ll be honest - I have paid almost zero attention to anything Packers in a long time. I know they had a playoff run recently and that Aaron Rodgers’ personal life was all over the tabloids for a while.

But really what I remember is that the last time the Broncos and Packers met, it was the last time Peyton Manning played close to the QB wizard he’s known for while the defense kept Rodgers from doing much more than tying his shoes.

Since that beautiful, beautiful win, the Broncos nabbed another Super Bowl but then made fans suffer through three pretty awful seasons. The Packers lost in the divisional playoffs in 2015, then the conference championship in 2016 and then have also suffered two losing seasons in a row the past two years.

So with two teams looking to regain some dignity under new head coaches, this game featuring a rematch of the greatest Super Bowl ever played (if you’re a Broncos fan born in the 70s, at least) should be an outstanding one to watch.

Also, I’m making the pilgrimage to the iconic Lambeau Field for this game and expecting both the game and the stadium to be spectacular.

Week 9: Browns at Broncos

Watching the Browns crawl out of their decades-long losing streak would normally be of no interest, but given how the franchise has offered a blueprint on how you turn around a dismal team quickly by getting a franchise QB and stockpiling draft picks to use for marquee talent and/or trade capital, it’s fun to see the Browns become relevant (not enough to being OK with losing to them, but certainly enough to appreciate their fight back to relevance).

Given that both teams will be out to prove their worth - the Browns to continue the climb they began when Baker Mayfield joined in 2018 and the Broncos to prove the defense can still win the day if a competent offense is there to support it - this rematch from 2018 should be interesting.

The Broncos defense did nearly all it could to contain Mayfield in last season’s matchup, but Case Keenum just couldn’t pass up a timely interception in the fourth quarter to lose the lead or a fourth-down sack to prevent a comeback win.

The Broncos’ 17-16 loss will certainly be on the minds of a few current players who will see 2019 as a bit of a revenge game. But more importantly, a matchup of two solid teams will remind fans of the good ol’ days of the AFC rivalry in which John Elway’s Broncos went head-to-head with Bernie Kosar’s Browns in three out of four AFC Championship Games in the late 80s - and came out on top in all of them!

Horse Tracks - docllv’s picks of the day

Why Broncos coach Vic Fangio has a friend in Cubs manager Joe Maddon – The Denver Post
At the first mention of the name, Joe Maddon’s eyes light up from the visiting dugout at Coors Field, and the Cubs manager has a quick story he’d like to tell about Broncos coach Vic Fangio. Two guys who grew up about 30 miles apart in northeast Pennsylvania. Take it away, Joe.

The Darkest Age of the Fullback: How football’s most hard-nosed position has become an endangered species – The Athletic
Once considered the heart of any offense, the fullback position has quickly fallen out of favor in all levels of football.

Horse Tracks

'I know what I've got to do': WR Emmanuel Sanders focused on return to field as training camp approaches
Sanders did not specify whether he thinks he'll be ready for the first practice of training camp.

Top-10 candidates to make a quantum leap for Broncos in 2019
These 10 Broncos have the greatest potential for breaking out in 2019.

Broncos Players Step Up to The Plate For A Good Cause – CBS Denver
Several members of the Denver Broncos hit the diamond at Coors Field for a good cause Tuesday.

Broncos swing for the fences at UCHealth's 2019 Healthy Swings Charity Home Run Derby
Ten Broncos players stepped up to the plate for charity on Tuesday, taking part in UCHealth's 2019 Healthy Swings Charity Home Run Derby at Coors Field to raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society- Rocky Mountain Chapter.

There is no longer a distinction between left tackles and right tackles – The Athletic
Teams that went far in the playoffs last year all had very good right tackle play. It’s become a premium position.

Case Keenum: 'I think I can thrive in this offensive system'
Sounds familiar.

Patriots accuse Texans of tampering over Nick Caserio -
The New England Patriots have filed tampering charges against the Houston Texans related to their attempted GM hire of Pats director of player personnel Nick Caserio.

Titans retiring Steve McNair, Eddie George jerseys -
The Titans announced Wednesday that the team will retire Steve McNair's No. 9 and Eddie George's No. 27 jerseys in a ceremony during the Sept. 15 home opener against the Indianapolis Colts.

Philip Rivers to limit reps in prep for long season -
In order to prepare for a long season, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers plans to limit his reps this summer and might sit out the entire preseason.

Kirk Cousins doesn't want to be '.500 quarterback' -

Bears' minicamp kicking competition off to a bad start -
The Bears' kicking competition is off to a poor start. During Tuesday's minicamp session, all three kickers missed kicks back-to-back-to-back. Matt Nagy expressed his frustration for the situation.