By Marc Mandell

@mandell_w on twitter

This is the time of year I like to look at the upcoming schedule. As we know the Broncos are in the middle of OTA’s down at the beautiful Dove Valley, implementing schemes, personnel changes and team cohesion. Meanwhile, as we wait for the real fun of training camp and the preseason, why don’t we take some time to look at the season Denver faces in 2016?

Every year, your team, no matter who it is, plays their division – six games, a division inside the same conference – 4 games, a division outside the conference – four more, plus two games inside the conference with a matching record from the previous season.

So the Broncos will play our division which is the AFC West, the AFC South, NFC South, NE and CIN. These are the teams faced with trying to score on Von’s Tour 2.0 and stop a run game that should be vastly improved. To be honest, it doesn’t seem too bad to me.

So, I must ask, what’s your prediction for the Denver Broncos schedule? Will they win the division again, go 13-3? Perhaps make super bowl 51? Or will they implode with such magnitude that Ted Cruz’s campaign manager could take a lesson? In any case, it will not lack excitement.

Before I give my prediction, my prognostication of the goings-on down at Dove Valley, I want to say that even though we lost a number of players at the end of last season, the brain trust working in the depths of Broncos HQ, I will never lose my faith in them. It doesn’t matter which team you hail for, there can be no argument that they have built quite a culture of winning no matter the odds. Agreed?

For those of us who got such a kick out of coach Fox, some of his methods made some sense to me. Keep in mind, by the way, it was just one year ago nearly to the week that Fox and the Broncos had a “mutual” divorce. Just one year. Things can change quick in the NFL eh? Anyway, I like the fact that he broke the season down to four quarters. From the stand point of the fan, I feel like it gave good perspective for the season ahead. This will be the order in which I will proceed.

Overall for the 2016-2017 NFL Denver Broncos schedule, it is my opinion that the Super Bowl 50 Champs will go 10-6.

@mandell_w on twitter. Bring it.

To start on the first four weeks.

CAR 17  20 DEN  How perfect is the opening of the season for Broncos fans. First are those tiny cats from Carolina. All I can see, other than former Seattle fans in Panthers gear, is Cam falling down on the side line in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl like a petulant child. I still chuckle at that. Now I’m not going to sit here and tell anyone that week 1 will be easy. And make no mistake, the Panthers are out for revenge. A meeting between Super Bowl opponents in week one hasn’t happened since the late 70’s. I do feel though, that some teams simply have other teams number. Seattle won’t lose to San Francisco anytime soon, Baltimore’s relationship with New England, very similar. I think this is how it’s going to go for Denver and Carolina. Granted they are in opposing conferences. A close game it will be, but it will be Denver’s victory. It will be low scoring, hotly contested and grungy, but I do think Denver will win. Defenses will be ferocious and the game will hinge on special teams no doubt. It’s the offenses, much like SB50, that will take some time to warm up. But by the time they do, it will be on to the next opponent.

17 IND DEN 21  The next aforementioned opponent is Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. Remember last year? When the Broncos defense popped a lung, separated a spleen and cracked the ribs of Mr 12? And then we still lost? Yeah, so do I. This will be different. No way in the wide wide world of sports do we lose to this team twice in a row. I have the utmost respect for Luck. The next best QB in the league is number 12 for the Colts. He has size, incredible ability and the very disciplined work ethic required to become the best at his craft. However, this year the Broncos won’t have the pressure of being undefeated in week 8. There won’t be the awkward feeling of watching Manning play against his former team. That’s all in the past now. Now it’s time for Sanchez and a real running game. Now it’s time to show the AFC what the Broncos ground game can really do. Broncos walk away with win number two.

14 DEN  CIN 20  The first loss of the season is next. When Denver travels to Cincy to face the red rifle Andy Dalton and his Cincinnati Bengals. To be perfectly honest, I am giving the loss to the Broncos in part because it is always tough to play in Cincinnati, and also because their defense isn’t so bad. Say what you will about Vontaze Burfict, but he brings the heat and heart every game. Yes he can get out of hand from time to time but it’s not like Aqib Talib is an angel himself. By the way, how gigantically stupid is Talib? I don’t care if he shot himself or was shot by someone in his little crew, I cannot believe how he continues to put himself in absolutely ridiculous situations. Beyond stupid. Ignorance is working in the dark, stupidity is turning the lights out. Anyway, the Bengals have a lot to prove and a lot to say after their season ended the way that it did. Besides, that division (AFC North), is going to beat the hell outta one another throughout the course of the year anyhow. Dalton is a good QB too. He struggles to play well in prime time, but the game is at a regular time, and the Broncos will no longer be on the front page of the news. It should lend itself to be an excellent game with both teams playing loose and free of pressure.

27 DEN  TB 13  Last team in the first quarter of the season, Denver travels to Tampa Bay. Jamis Winston will be in his sophomore year, usually a regression, and they will have an entirely new coaching staff. I like Lovie Smith but can we be honest for just a second? Some guys are just better coordinators, i.e. Wade Phillips, Ken Wiesenhunt, Josh McDaniels. I’m sure that Lovie will do well at the college level but this is about the NFL. So the Bucs decided that a new regime was in order. With a new coach comes a new system and new terms. By week four the team should start gelling. Denver’s offense should be humming right along, even with Sanchez back there still. The defense will be on point whether Talib plays or not. So once they meet Von Miller and Company, it’ll be back to the drawing board for Tampa Bay. I like Doug Martin, and what Tampa has done to build its team. I am also of the opinion that Mark Sanchez will surprise some folks. If Mark can put up, lets say 17/25 for 215 yds and 1 touchdown a game, the running tandem of CJ Anderson and probably Davonte Booker coupled with the best defense in the league again, the Broncos will be 3-1 by the end of the first quarter of the season.