Denver has been a house of horrors for visiting teams during the Peyton Manning era… during the regular season, at least. This year Denver welcomes the toughest selection of foes coming to Sports Authority Field at Mile High in a long time. It’s a gnarly bunch, with home games against the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, and New England Patriots.

Who is the toughest non-divisional home opponent?

Broncos fans need not be reminded of the kind of matchup the Ravens offer. After experiencing the heartbreaking “Mile High Miracle” in the 2012 Divisional playoffs, the Broncos avenged the loss by trouncing the Ravens, 49-27, in the 2013 home opener.

Still, Baltimore is talented. Quarterback Joe Flacco plays smart and has a Super Bowl MVP to show for that insane 2012 playoff run. Ravens running back Justin Forsett and the offensive line exploded onto the scene last season under the tutelage of then-offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil returns to Denver for the second time since the infamous fax machine incident. Lining up opposite “Doom” will be Terrell Suggs, an equally threatening whirlwind of aggression. The Ravens have the talent to win in Denver, and they’ve done so previously, when the stakes were even higher.

Last season, the Broncos lost quite badly to the Bengals Week 16 in Cincinnati. Peyton Manning threw four interceptions, the defense allowed over 200 rushing yards, including an 85 yard touchdown by running back Jeremy Hill, and allowed huge gains in the return game. Overall, the Broncos played one of their worst games of 2014.

This season against the Bengals, again a Week 16 matchup, Manning should be healthy and the crowd will be on our side. Still, the talented Bengals have made the playoffs four seasons in a row and will put up a fight, as there’s a good chance they’ll again be fighting for a Wild Card spot.

Coming off the bye week, the Broncos host the Green Bay Packers Week 8. Green Bay has the 2014 NFL MVP on their roster, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw 38 touchdowns against just 5 interceptions last season. Rodgers rarely makes mistakes, and the (mostly) homegrown Packers have one of the league’s best receiving duos in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, not to mention a bruising power back in Eddie Lacy.

The Broncos last played the Packers in 2011, in Green Bay, with an entirely different team. Rodgers put up six total touchdowns in a 49-23 beatdown. Hopefully, the Denver defense can slow down the MVP when he comes to town this time around.

The Minnesota Vikings come to Denver Week 4. Some fans may doubt the talent on the Vikings, but they have a chance to be good next season. Running back Adrian Peterson is fresh after being suspended for most of 2014. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater proved calm and collected his rookie year. With an an upgraded receiving corps, the return of an All-Pro running back, and a talented young quarterback, the Vikings have a chance to make some noise.

Week 12 the Broncos invite the Patriots to Sports Authority Field at Mile High in what will likely be one the most-entertaining games of 2015. Since signing Manning, the Broncos have hosted the Patriots once, in the AFC Championship , and have traveled to New England three times. Each time the home team has won the game.

The Patriots are the defending Super Bowl champions. The result of the Week 12 matchup will likely go a long way in determining seeding in the AFC. Quarterback Tom Brady and Head Coach Bill Belichick have consistently had the Pats at or near the top of the league for the past 15 seasons. Next season will be no different.

So, who is the toughest non-divisional home opponent?


Bryce Rudnick, a Mile High Sports intern and CU-Boulder student, contributed to this report