Armed with five primetime games, we will be seeing a lot of the Denver Broncos on TV in 2013. Denver will play host to the Baltimore Ravens to open up the entire NFL season. The game is a rematch of the wildly entertaining playoff game from last season.
Because of the way the NFL does their schedules there are only two games for every team in the division that differ from each other. So while the Chiefs will play the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns, Denver will have to play the New England Patriots and the Ravens. For the most part, Denver has to like the way that played out. Baltimore will lose nine starters from their Super Bowl team from last season so the thought that they will be the same quality of a team is in doubt.
Four of their last six games will be on the road, and , similarly to the Chiefs, five of their division games will be played in the final eight weeks.
Denver’s ability to repeat as AFC West champs may be decided in November and the first week of December where they’ll have three road games against San Diego, New England, and Kansas City, with the one home game coming against KC. Three division games and a tough matchup with New England could mean three or four losses, but it is hard to think Peyton Manning will allow that to happen.
Other potential losses include at New York, at Dallas, at Indianapolis, and at Houston.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Like Kansas City, San Diego enters the season with a new head coach and a new general manager, and with that comes a sense of optimism. Furthermore, they have Philip Rivers who, let’s be honest, is a better quarterback than Alex Smith. Rivers hopes a new GM means the acquisition of some more weapons weapons as SD has seen an exodus of playermakers that includes Darren Sproles and Vincent Jackson.
The schedule makers didn’t give the Chargers a very easy start though, giving them a Monday night matchup against the Houston Texans followed by two road games against the Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans. Add in the following Dallas Cowboys game at home and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Chargers opened 1-3.
But after the difficult start, things really clear out for San Diego. Like Denver and KC, the Chargers will play five division games in the final eight weeks, including three division games to end the season. Also, four of their final five games will be played at home.
Their two uncommon opponents are on the road against the Miami Dolphins and at home against the Cincinnati Bengals, two tough matchups that could be the difference of where the Chiefs and Chargers finish in the division.
November will be a tough month for San Diego with road games against Washington, Miami, and KC with a home game against Denver mixed in. If San Diego can survive the September and November month, the Chargers could be going to playoffs next season.
The outcast of the AFC West, the Raiders will play three division games between week three and week six – with a game against Washington in between – and then finish the season with three straight division games.
Oakland may have the second hardest schedule in the division behind Denver because of their two uncommon games against the Steelers and on the road against the Jets. It is easy to see a scenario where the Steelers bounce back. The Jets may turn out to be a terrible team, but if the defense and Matt Sanchez rebound they could be a very difficult team to beat on the road.
Outside of their home games against the Jaguars in week two and the Titans in week 12, it is hard to find another game where one would project the Raiders as the favored team.
To highlight this idea, from week 10 to week 16 Oakland will play five of seven games on the road with two home games being against the Titans and Chiefs. To end the season they have a home game against the Broncos.
Because of salary cap problems Oakland was not in a position to add a lot of talent this offseason, and will need a very good draft if they are going to make some noise in the AFC West. That, and Matt Flynn is going to have to prove he is a starting quarterback. Those are two pretty big ifs.
Of course, this is April. The draft and training camp haven’t happened yet, there are post-draft cuts and trades that are yet to happen, and who knows what will happen in the injury front. So none of this should be taken in stone. There is a lot left to happen between now and September.