The opponents for the 2017 Denver Broncos are finalized with the 2016 regular season coming to an end. We know who and where the Broncos will play. We just won’t know when until April. There is no doubt that most of these teams will look quite different come next season, including the Broncos, but it’s never too early to start looking at next year.
Previewing the 2017 Denver Broncos Schedule
New England Patriots
Two of every three years, the Broncos can avoid the Patriots by not winning the AFC West. Unfortunately, this was not one of those years. Once again, the Broncos will meet Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots. The Patriots are always a tough opponent and this game will be a major litmus test for this Broncos team.
The Jets likely can’t be any worse than they were this year. This will be a reunion for former Broncos Eric Decker, Ryan Clady and Brandon Marshall (assuming he is still a Jet). With a quarterback situation envied by nobody, the Jets will likely be down in the dumps for a few years. Considering the current state of the Jets, I see this as a game the Broncos should win.
The NFC regular season champions will come to Sports Authority Field in a matchup that should be circled on all Broncos fans’ calendars. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott will have a year of experience under their belts and valuable playoff experience as well. This will be another game which will give us an idea of the Broncos credibility as a contender.
This game will be very exciting. The No Fly Zone of the Broncos will be very active looking to shut down Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr. and the Giants passing attack. Shane Ray and Von Miller will need to put pressure on Manning because the Giants have many receivers who can find a way open given the time. This will be a classic matchup between a high-flying offense and a strong, prideful defense.
The Broncos had one of their best offensive games in Cincinnati this past season. While the Bengals were missing Tyler Eifert, the Broncos limited the Bengals offense for most of the last three quarters. The Broncos will need to tighten up their run defense against the two-headed monster of Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill because I don’t expect Andy Dalton to have a big day against the No Fly Zone.
The Broncos did not play well against within the division this season. The rare bright spots occurred at home though. The Broncos won two of their three divisional home games with the loss coming on a frigid Sunday night against the Chiefs. The Broncos will need to play much better on offense in order to win their divisional games next season.
The Bills had a typical middle of the pack season again this year which led to the dismissal of the Ryan brothers. They have a lot of good athletes on the offensive side, and they need some work on defense. Tyrod Taylor presents a unique challenge for any defense due to his big arm and major athleticism. This team could have a big season with the right coaches and defensive personnel.
Jay Ajayi exploded onto the scene in 2016 with multiple 200 yard performances against good teams. Ryan Tannehill will be back healthy next year and will have a full year with Adam Gase and this coaching staff. The Dolphins stormed into the playoffs this year and seem to only be getting better. This will be a very difficult road test for the Broncos, and it will show a lot about this team.
Carson Wentz and the Eagles came hot out of the gate but cooled off as the NFL got more tape of the first year quarterback. This team went downhill quickly, and they don’t have the picks to rebuild due to the trade for Wentz. Philadelphia is typically a tough place to play, but I don’t expect much from the Eagles in 2017.
The Redskins were one of the more disappointing teams in 2016. Coming off a division title in 2015, the Redskins fell to third in the NFC East even though they finished over .500. I expect Kirk Cousins to be playing under his second franchise tag which will drive him to play his best. The rest of the Redskins roster doesn’t stand out and won’t be much to worry about.
The Colts are lost in an endless spiral that will continue until Jim Irsay cuts ties with Chuck Pagano. Pagano had a good run, but the Colts need to go in a different direction. Along with a coaching change, the Colts need to completely change their defense and rebuild around Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton. The Broncos defense handled the Colts offense for most of their early 2016 matchup and I expect the same in 2017.
The Broncos were 0-3 in the division on the road this season. They looked terrible in all three of those games. This team was completely blown out on Sunday Night Football TWICE in 2016 at Oakland and Kansas City. In San Diego, they looked outmatched by an awful Chargers team. If the Broncos want to make the playoffs in 2017, they need to be a lot better in the division.