Some might say that the Denver Broncos have been put upon by the Football Gods, or the NFL schedule makers — same thing, right?
Denver's 2017 schedule, which was released by the NFL on Thursday night, is fraught with difficulty — at least at first glance. Including divisional opponents, eight of Denver's 16 games will be against teams who were in the 2016 playoffs.
That's half the schedule. Denver leads the NFL on strength of schedule this year (.578). Guess which teams round out the top four in strength of schedule? That's right, the remaining three teams of the AFC West. And that's a good thing for Denver.
The AFC West has been tough for a few years now. The only difference is that the Oakland Raiders have seemingly taken the place of the Los Angeles Chargers as the third highly-competitive division rival. We'll see if Oakland can string together two competitive seasons in a row. But the AFC West drew the short straw this year with strength of schedule.
Denver's schedule is a tough one, but let's remember that we're in April. The season doesn't kick off until September and one of the elements of professional football that makes it so compelling is the parity in the league.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1767778-5-broncos-poised-to-break... In the NFL, a basement dweller can knock off a No. 1 seed in late December. We've all heard the cliche made famous by Oliver Stone's magnum football opus — Any Given Sunday.
The balance of power shifts on a yearly — and even a weekly — basis in the NFL. Teams who dominated last season can fall to the doldrums the next. A year ago, who would have predicted that neither Super Bowl team from the previous season would even make the playoffs?
Who could have guessed that the Oakland Raiders, or Miami Dolphins would have fought their way into the tournament? Not many.
The Detroit Lions shocked the world by earning a Wild Card seed. In the NFC, not many analysts predicted in April that the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons would not only make the playoffs, but serve as the conference's respective No. 1 and No. 2 seed.
So it goes in the NFL. Parity reigns supreme and thank the Football Gods for it. Parity keeps pro football interesting and the odds-makers in Vegas guessing.
How does that all relate to the Denver Broncos? As tough as the schedule looks, a lot can change between now and September, or even December.
|1||Sept. 11||8:20||Los Angeles Chargers||ESPN|
|2||Sept. 17||2:25||Dallas Cowboys||FOX|
|3||Sept. 24||11:00||at Buffalo Bills||CBS|
|4||Oct. 1||2:25||Oakland Raiders||CBS|
|6||Oct. 15||6:30||New York Giants||NBC|
|7||Oct. 22||2:25||at Los Angeles Chargers||CBS|
|8||Oct. 30||6:30||at Kansas City Chiefs||NBC|
|9||Nov. 5||11:00||at Philadelphia Eagles||CBS|
|10||Nov. 12||6:30||New England Patriots||NBC|
|11||Nov. 19||2:25||Cincinnati Bengals||CBS|
|12||Nov. 26||2:25||at Oakland Raiders||CBS|
|13||Dec. 3||11:00||at Miami Dolphins||CBS|
|14||Dec. 10||2:05||New York Jets||CBS|
|15||Dec. 15||6:25||at Indianapolis Colts||NBC|
|16||Dec. 24||11:00||at Washington Redskins||CBS|
|17||Dec. 31||2:25||Kansas City Chiefs||CBS|
The Broncos will be the masters of their own destiny. Let's face it, even though the Broncos entered 2016 as defending World Champions, not many would have guessed that they'd vanquish Carolina, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Tampa Bay to start 4-0, and enter their bye week at 7-3 — all with a totally unproven and completely inexperienced young quarterback at the helm.
Unfortunately, Denver went on to lose four of their final six games following the bye. But I'll tell you this; when I analyzed the schedule last spring, the first half of the season appeared far more daunting than the second. But that's not how the chips fell.
But that's how quickly the balance of power can change in the NFL.
In 2016, Trevor Siemian went through trial by fire, leading the Broncos to a 4-0 start and finished with an 8-6 record as a starter. Today, he's a better quarterback for it.
Those two and a half games that Paxton Lynch played as a rookie could very well make all the difference in how he adjusts and develops going into his second year.
We don't yet know which quarterback will lead the 2017 Broncos into battle come September 11. However, GM John Elway has continued to manage this roster from it's position of strength — defense.
Von Miller and company will continue to be the tip of the spear. No matter who wins the quarterback competition, Denver's defensive prowess will keep them in each and every game.
Through the Draft and into training camp, Denver's new coaching staff, led by Vance Joseph, will work to bolster the offensive line and add playmakers. When the Broncos manage to balance those scales — offense and defense — watch out.
A united and complete Denver Broncos will be able to win on Any Given Sunday.
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.