The Denver Broncos were able to pull off a decent 9-7 record for their 2016 campaign. That was enough to land them on at least a second-place finish in every other division, save for both NFC and AFC East. But, over at AFC West where they belong, the above .500 record was only good for a third spot, behind the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders who were both sporting a 12-4 card at the end of the regular season.
That says a lot about the kind of competition at AFC West, which is arguably the crème de la crème among all the NFL divisions last season. And, with the league requiring each team to face their division rivals twice every season, you know it doesn’t bode well for the AFC West squads.
The Broncos Own The Toughest Strength of Schedule in 2017
The Denver Broncos is now at the mercy of the NFL 2017 season’s toughest schedule. They will have to brace themselves against teams that feature the highest combined winning percentage (CWP) of .578 (147-107-2) based on the 2016 season numbers, wrote CBS Sports.
2017 Home Games: Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants
2017 Away Games: Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins
The other three AFC West teams hold the next three spots in terms of strength of schedule for 2017, with the Kansas City Chiefs dealing with a CWP of .576 (2nd), the Los Angeles Chargers with .568 (3rd), and the Oakland Raiders at fourth place with .564.
Head Coach Vance Joseph Has The Unenviable Task
After stepping in as Gary Kubiak’s replacement, Coach Vance Joseph is out to steer the helm for the Denver Broncos this coming season. And, a lot is expected from him. As if handling the head coaching chores for an NFL team in your maiden season is not hard enough, Joseph has to hurdle the challenges posed by having the toughest 2017 schedule.
Apart from the home and away games against teams from their very own division, Joseph and the Denver Broncos will have their mettle tested against teams from the two East divisions of each conference, Mile High Sports noted.
The Broncos will face some formidable foes from the NFC East with the likes of the division top seed Dallas Cowboys (13-3) and the New York Giants (11-5). And, you know that the Redskins (8-7) and the Eagles (7-9) are no pushovers, either.
Against the AFC East teams, the Denver Broncos will have their hands full when they go head-to-head versus recently-crowned Super Bowl kings Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
Why The Strength Of Schedule Could Work Against The Broncos
Now let’s try to put things into perspective. Owning the toughest 2017 schedule works against the favor of the Denver Broncos if the 2016 season results are to be considered.
At the start of the 2016 season, only a couple of teams, which include the Super Bowl runner-ups Atlanta Falcons, were able to reach the postseason out of the eight teams with the toughest schedules. And, after ranking the teams based on their strength of games after the regular season, no team owning one of the top 10 most difficult schedules was able to make it to the playoffs. On the one hand, seven out of the top 10 teams who own the lightest schedules got into the postseason last year.
For the upcoming season, the easiest 2017 schedule belongs to the Indianapolis Colts (.424), the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans (.439), the Cincinnati Bengals (.449), and the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings (.453). And, what the Denver Broncos wouldn’t give just to be in the shoes of any of these teams.
[Featured Image By Justin Edmonds/Getty Images]