With the NFL preseason well underway, Last Word on Pro Football is analyzing the schedules of all 32 NFL teams. Each team’s 16-game slate will be split into its most difficult and easiest games (1 is hardest, 16 is easiest). For this article, the Denver Broncos most difficult games of the 2019 campaign are under the microscope. They play the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers and Oakland Raiders twice each.
Denver Broncos Most Difficult Games of 2019
1. Week Seven and 15: Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs are a thorn in the Broncos side. They’ve won seven straight games against the Broncos. In 2018, a missed attempt in Week Four gave the Chiefs a 27-23 victory. One could say it was a close game and Denver were point for point until the end. But a month later, the Chiefs won 30-23. Not such a fluke after all, just continuing their winning streak against their arch-rivals. 2017, they’ve reigned supreme in the AFC West. They were a mere one possession short of knocking the New England Patriots out and reaching the Super Bowl. This alone makes them a threat against the Broncos. Their young star quarterback Patrick Mahomes can do no wrong and will be difficult to stop unless the Broncos pull a rabbit out of their defensive hat. The first of their two matchups will be in Denver. Both teams will have a shorter week, but the Chiefs will likely be unaffected.
3. Week Five and 13: Los Angeles Chargers
They faced each other twice last season and both won a game each. There are few quarterbacks the Broncos love tearing down, and Philip Rivers is one of them. But if 2018 is anything to go by, the Broncos are the underdogs considering that they only won by a point (23-22) and lost by many (23-9). It was a quiet off-season for the Chargers, focusing their draft primarily on defense. That’s a reminder of how powerful their offense is. If they keep Melvin Gordon at bay like they did in their last two matchups, the Broncos may not be in dire straits.
4. Week 11: at Buffalo Bills
Denver hasn’t fared well against the Buffalo Bills. In the all-time series, the Bills have won 21 times, the Broncos 16. At their last meeting in 2017, Denver struggled to capitalize and made countless mistakes on their way to a 26-16 loss. The Bills will be itching to better their 2018 campaign, which wasn’t the ideal start for Josh Allen’s career. The 2019 off-season saw them focusing on a strong supporting cast for Allen. They worked smart during the draft, picking up four offensive players and four defensive players. However, both teams are renowned for their defense so this is going to be a very interesting battle to witness.
5. Week 9: vs Cleveland Browns
The Browns made a comeback in 2018 and they started the 2019 preseason by destroying the Washington Redskins 30-10. They defeated Denver last season. Cleveland is stacked with talent in the form of a star quarterback in Baker Mayfield along with Odell Beckham Jr. and Myles Garrett. Added to these three are a mostly young and talented squad who now have a taste of winning. Stats-wise, the Browns had a much better season than the Broncos last year, and it’s already looking like they will be an even bigger threat this season.
6. Week 10: at Minnesota Vikings
Their game against the Vikings will be the start of a challenging path – four road games in five weeks. The Broncos suffered an embarrassing 42-28 loss to them in the 2018 preseason. The last time they faced each other in the regular season, Denver barely escaped with a 23-20 win. The Vikings narrowly missed out on the playoffs last season but were closer than the Broncos could even have dreamed of. Minnesota and Denver are tied in the all-time series with seven games apiece. With the Vikings acquiring 12 players in the draft (which is hefty), they likely have a young squad fighting to prove themselves – and that may not end well for the Broncos.
7. Week 14: at Houston Texans
This will be a rematch considering the Broncos came so close to winning against the Texans last season. A missed Brandon McManus 51-yard field goal resulted in Houston winning 19-17. The Texans had a solid season that was cut short by the Indianapolis Colts on Wild Card weekend. Denver has a slight lead in the all-time series, 4-3. In 2018, Houston won their division with an 11-5 record. Winning 11 of 13 games to qualify for the postseason only to have it cut short will make them hungrier. They have talent in Deshaun Watson, Deandre Hopkins and J.J. Watt (who is no longer in his prime), so the Broncos need to be vigilant.