You’ve got to beat the best to be the best, Denver Broncos

Credit: Jim O'Connor, USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos were dealt a difficult schedule for the 2014 season. No doubt it.

They play a first place schedule with significant challenges sprinkled throughout the year. Tough road tests loom, including trips to Seattle and Foxboro. A rare early season bye. Six out of their last nine away from home. It’s a much tougher schedule than last year.

And I think that’s great. Bring on the big boys. Let’s get the Broncos battle tested before the playoffs begin. Take some lumps and face some adversity. Play from behind. Get put in dicey situations.

What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger right?

Playing against a higher level of competition is never a bad thing in a quest to be the best. Looking back on last season, the Broncos schedule was kind of weak sauce when you dissect their opponents. They won 13 out of 16, but didn’t really beat an elite team.

Baltimore had a classic Super Bowl hangover and had lost some key members from their Championship squad. The Broncos easily swept the NFC East, also known as the “NFC Least.” The AFC West was not the AFC best, and the Broncos handled their division foes, minus the one slip up against the Chargers. Wins against Tennessee, Houston, and Jacksonville were all routine and did little to prep them for the playoffs.

Their two main tests, at Indy and at Foxboro, ended in losses. The Broncos did exact some super satisfying revenge on the Pats in the AFC championship game. But let’s be real. The Broncos caught Brady on an off day, and New England was missing some heavy fire power (i.e. Vince Wilfork and Rob Gronkowski among others).

I’m not saying the Broncos don’t deserve credit for putting up back-to-back 13-win seasons, I’m just saying their competition wasn’t nearly as staunch as it needed to be to properly prepare them for the Super Bowl.

This year they won’t have that excuse. Some people might be sad and almost afraid to see the match-up at Seattle. Not me. I love it. Let’s see if that Super Bowl was an aberration.

Others are complaining that the Broncos always have to go to Foxboro. It’s a true story. That spicy meatball of a matchup has seemed to consistently be in Brady’s backyard in recent years. But what’s a better litmus test for a team than playing at the Patriots?

The 49ers are a legit defensive team that should be a close encounter. The Cardinals and Rams also have stout Ds that won’t be afraid to be physical. The more strong defenses the Broncos clash with, the better.

The Broncos play at Arrowhead in November. The Chiefs should be a formidable foe to face, especially with chilly temperatures likely. Denver has a late-season prime time battle at the Bengals. A tough matchup where playoff positioning will most certainly be at stake.

Denver has the second most difficult schedule based off last year’s records. Nine of their 16 games are against teams who qualified for the playoffs last year. 2014 will be no walk in the park. It looks to be a steady trot, in fact. It’s a good thing a Bronco knows how to trot.

A rugged schedule is a positive for Broncos country. You got to beat the best to be the best!

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  • Scott Diamond

    That spicy meatball! That is my new pet name for Tom, maybe more suited for Bill though. Broncos definitely have the gauntlet to run this year, but credit to your point, by the end no pundit should have room to ask if they didn’t earn their schedule and seeding after this line up. Peyton loves him some big games and this should be a treat for spectators the whole season. Man, I really want to see some football, right now!!

    • Jimji

      This is a no brainer article to agree with but its all true. If Peyton can stay healthy the Broncos will be a tested and more mature playoff team at the end but he sure isn’t getting any younger and last year had some nagging injuries already. Don’t think they will be 13-3 but 11-5 or even 10-6 will generally get you there.