As if the Broncos didn’t have it hard enough with their non-divisional home schedule, they will face major tests on the road this year. Chief among these is a date with former head coach John Fox in Chicago, but the Broncos will also travel to take on the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Who is the toughest non-divisional road opponent?

The Bears host the Broncos Week 11. Coming off a 5-11 season and last place finish in the NFC North, the Bears fired Head Coach Marc Trestman and replaced him with John Fox, who mutually parted ways with the Denver Broncos following their divisional round loss to Indianapolis. Fox may not be an elite coach, but he is excellent at turning poor or mediocre teams into good ones.

Out for revenge, ol’ Foxy, and quarterback Jay Cutler, would love to beat their former team.

The Broncos fly to Detroit Week 3 to play the Lions. Detroit went 11-5 last season, and 7-1 at Ford Field. Their only home loss came Week 5 against the Buffalo Bills. The Lions have a dangerous offense that thrives on quarterback Matthew Stafford feeding his talented wide receivers Calvin “Megatron” Johnson and Golden Tate, as well as a stifling defense that allowed the third-fewest points last season.

The Lions may have lost All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, a disruptive force who signed with Miami, but they replaced him with a Pro Bowler in Haloti Ngata. The Lions’ defense should be nearly as good as last season, and their offense should be markedly improved. With the addition of talented rookie running back, Ameer Abdullah, and a healthy “Megatron,” the Detroit Lions will be hard to beat.

Week 6 the Broncos travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns.

The Cleveland game has all the characteristics of a trap game, as the Broncos follow with a Week 7 bye before hosting the Green Bay Packers. The Broncos can’t forget to focus equally on each opponent.

On October 20, 2013, Quarterback Peyton Manning returned to Indianapolis for the first time, as a member of the Denver Broncos. The Colts beat the Broncos 39-33 in an emotional game.

Manning got his revenge last season, when the Broncos beat the Colts in the season opener, but couldn’t do it twice, as Indianapolis sent Denver packing in the divisional round of the playoffs.

The Broncos return to “The House that Manning Built” Week 9, where the Colts went 6-2 in 2014.

Quarterback Andrew Luck had his best NFL season in 2014, throwing for more than 4,700 yards and becoming just the eighth QB to throw 40 touchdown passes in one season.

The Colts signed wide receiver Andre Johnson and running back Frank Gore this offseason and drafted wide receiver Phillip Dorsett in the first round. Add speedy wide receiver T.Y. Hilton to the mix, whom Luck has developed an excellent rapport with, and the Colts may very well lead the League in scoring.

The Broncos travel to Heinz Field Week 15. The Steelers finished 11-5 and won the AFC North last season, going 6-2 at home. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had his best season in 2014, leading the NFL in passing yards. The Steelers, historically known for their defense, finished second in the NFL in total yards. Wide receiver Antonio Brown had 129 receptions and almost 1,700 yards last season, while sophomore running back Le’Veon Bell had 2,215 total yards and scored 11 touchdowns.

The Steelers, and their dangerous offensive trio, will be hard to stop.

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


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