Last season the Broncos waltzed into St. Louis with a 7-2 record, fresh off of a 41-17 dismantling of the Raiders, and played their worst game of the season. The Rams won handily, 22-7, improved to 4-5 on the year, and Denver played even worse than the score indicated.

St. Louis was the trap game last season. Denver was focused on a streaking Miami team coming to town the next week, and thought they would steamroll the Rams like they did the Raiders the week before.  Obviously, that was not the case. Peyton Manning took a pounding as Denver was held under 20 points for the only time all season.

Trap games are inevitable. At some point, every team is caught unprepared or overlooking an opponent.

So, which very winnable match-up are the Broncos most likely to lose this year?

Week 6 at Cleveland? Or, week 14 vs. Oakland?

The Broncos travel to Cleveland Week 6 to take on the Browns. Browns fans are some of the most passionate in the NFL, so expect “The Dawg Pound” to be barking.

From 1987 to 1990, the Browns lost to the Broncos three times in the AFC Championship Game. John Elway’s name is still considered a swear word in Cleveland. If Cleveland packs the house with fans who witnessed ‘The Drive’ and ‘The Fumble’, the stadium will be deafening.

Moving past the history of the rivalry, the Browns have the most talented football team they’ve fielded in years. Despite a big question mark at quarterback (Johnny Manziel or Josh McCown?), the Browns have a stout defense (ninth-fewest points allowed in 2014), a shutdown corner (Joe Haden), and an elite offensive line (fourth-most rushing TD’s 2014).

After Cleveland, the Broncos have a bye week, then host the Packers before traveling to Indianapolis. If Denver is too focused on the upcoming schedule, the team might not be prepared to beat who’s standing in front of them.

If the Browns are able to put pressure on Peyton, eliminate a top offensive threat (put Haden on Demaryius Thomas) and control possession by running the football, they have a good chance to pull off the upset.

In Week 14, the Broncos host their bitter rivals, the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders have been consistently atrocious since their Super Bowl loss in 2002, but that might be coming to an end.

The Raiders have drafted well the past few years, picking Von Miller’s clone, Khalil Mack, a quality starting quarterback in Derek Carr and a true number one wide receiver in Amari Cooper. The Raiders have been deplete of young talent for a long time, but this trio has a chance to be special.

Before the Raiders game Week 14, the Broncos host New England and then travel to San Diego the following week. Challenging games against the Patriots and Chargers could have the Broncos gassed by the time they meet Oakland Week 14.

Week 15 the Broncos travel to Pittsburgh to take on Big Ben and the Steelers, before finishing the season at home against Cincinnati and San Diego.

The Raiders game takes place in between a slew of match-ups between talented teams.

If the Broncos don’t focus on the task at hand, they could lose to Oakland at home.

So, which potential trap game are the Broncos more likely to lose?


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