It's been tough for me to wrap my head around this years Broncos team. There's been a ton of talk about the difficulty of their schedule. It's a muderer's row, but they might be good enough to overcome it.
They've made improvements in a number of areas - not the least of which being in the secondary. They're still a little sketchy at linebacker - but stacked on offense. Demaryius Thomas is developing and Eric Decker has worked overtime. McGahee is in mid-season form. I feel good about their two new tight ends. Oh, and they added a QB named Manning.
The AFC West should be theirs. Not to win the division would be to fail. Therefore, the Broncos should be considered a playoff team. But how will they get there? Let's break it down.
Sunday, September 9 - Pittsburgh @ Denver
The Steelers will have Wild Card revenge on their minds as they play their first game of 2012 in the same stadium in which their 2011 season came to a sudden end. Denver's newly improved secondary will be challenged by the gun-slinging Big Ben, but the boys up front will make his life difficult. I predict that Roethlisberger will be knocked out of this game by the third quarter.
Broncos WIN! 17-13. Record: 1-0
Monday, September 17 - Denver @ Atlanta
I have the Falcons winning their division and proceeding to the NFC Champioship game. In other words, I think they're good. Julio Jones in this years Calvin Johnson. Matty Ice will have a career season. The Falcons will handle the Broncos in their home opener.
Broncos LOSE! 34-23. Record: 1-1
Sunday, September 23 - Houston @ Denver
The Texans are over-rated. I don't even see them winning the AFC South. Denver will handle their top threat, Arian Foster, by focusing their defensive attention in him. Champ Bailey will get smoked by an ailing Andre Johnson a time or two but will keep him from going nuts.
Broncos WIN! 24-17. Record: 2-1
Sunday, September 30 - Oakland @ Denver
The Raiders don't suck nearly as much as you think they suck. And they have a tendency to be a real pain in the ass when they come to Denver. They'll fall at Mile High - but in overtime.
Broncos WIN! 24-21. Record: 3-1
Sunday, October 7 - Denver @ New England
A cold, calculating dismantling of the Broncos will occur.
Broncos LOSE! 31-10. Record: 3-2
Monday, October 15 - Denver @ San Diego
I have the Chokers finishing dead last in the AFC West - and firing Norv and the GM. Still, they'll win a few games along the way. This will be one of them. At home on a Monday night, Phillys Rivers isn't going to let Peyton Manning get the best of him. San Diego will win in a shoot-out and Denver Fans will start to panic.
Broncos LOSE! 41-34. Record: 3-3
Sunday, October 28 - Saints @ Broncos
In prime time on NBC the Broncos will shine brightly, restoring the faith of the fan base by beating the snot out of the Saints and getting back over .500 and setting off a 5-game winning streak.
Broncos WIN! 38-17. Record 4-3
Sunday, November 4 - Broncos @ Bengals
The Bengals? Puh-lease.
Broncos WIN! 24-17. Record 5-3
Sunday, November 11 - Broncos @ Panthers
Make no mistake - the Panthers are going to be good - far better than anyone is currently projecting. I love their QB and I love their head coach. They'll give the Broncos a game - but the better team will prevail.
Broncos WIN! 14-13. Record 6-3
Sunday, Novemeber 18 - San Diego @ Denver
By this point of the season the Chargers will be the Chargers. They'll be awful and Norv will be on the hot seat. Kansas City and Oakland will have overtaken SD in the standings. The wheels will be coming off and the Broncos will put the daggar in them.
Broncos WIN! 41-13. Record 7-3
Sunday, November 25 - Denver @ Kansas City
The Broncos never win in Kansas City in December. But this isn't December. They'll go into to Arrowhead and scalp the Chiefs.
Broncos WIN! 27-17. Record 8-3
Sunday, December 2 - Tampa Bay @ Denver
This one seems like it should be a "gimme" - and that's exactly why it'll end up a loss for the Broncos. Somehow Tampa comes in here and surprises Denver while fighting for a Wild Card spot. Denver begins a three-game losing streak.
Broncos LOSE! 21-13. Record 8-4
Thursday, December 6 - Broncos @ Raiders
Oakland will be dueling with Kansas City for second place in the division and a possible Wild-Card spot when the Broncos come into the black hole in early December. They'll get a win in a messy clash of rivals. Peyton Manning will get hurt and leave the game.
Broncos LOSE! 24-13. Record 8-5
Sunday, December 16 - Broncos @ Ravens
The 2012 Broncos will be just like the Broncos of the last several years in that they won't be able to win in Baltimore .No way. No how. It'll be a close, hard-fought defensive game. But the Broncos will drop their third in a row as Manning rests up from whatever the Raiders did to him
Broncos LOSE! 13-9. Record 8-6
Sunday, December 23 - Browns @ Broncos
Merry Christmas, Broncos fans. Santa brought the Browns - and a happy, healthy Peyton Manning who will have recovered from the injury that caused him to sit out the Baltimore game. The Broncos will hit their stride once again.
Broncos WIN! 31-17. Record 9-6
Sunday, December 30 - Chiefs @ Broncos
Kansas City will be playing for a Wild Card - if not for the division. This game will be for all the marbles. Manning's experience in the clutch will show through as the Broncos hang on to overcome the Chiefs.
Broncos WIN! 24-21. Final Record: 10-6
Broncos win the AFC West.
They will host a Wild Card game and win it.
They will win in the Divisional round
They will lose in the AFC Championship game to New England.