DENVER — What's a prediction without an apology?
Sorry, Seattle. I stink at predicting Super Bowls. No Red Hook for me.
But predicting the regular season? Straight cash, homie.
Last year, I missed the Broncos' final record by one. When the NFL released its schedule, I had the Broncos going 14-2. They finished 13-3. The culprit was San Diego's Thursday-night upset at Denver. You rascal, Philip Rivers.
This edition of Predicting the Broncos Schedule is dead on.
Just in case: can we buy a mulligan?
Week 1: Broncos vs. Colts
Date: Sept. 7 (6:30 p.m., NBC)
If there's an Andrew Luck banner flapping outside Sports Authority Field, the NFL has some 'splainin' to do. There won't be a Flacco Flag Fiasco, but there will be another reunion. Can't see Peyton Manning losing to the Colts again. Can you?
Prediction: Broncos 37, Colts 20 (Record: 1-0)
Week 2: Broncos vs. Kansas City
Date: Sept. 14 (2:25 p.m., CBS)
We had the Chiefs pegged in 2013. Andy Reid's new club was a cute story — and a product of a Charmin early schedule. Once again, the Broncos should worry about the Chiefs winning the AFC West like Manning should worry about bankruptcy.
Prediction: Broncos 30, Chiefs 24 (Record: 2-0)
Week 3: Broncos at Seattle
Date: Sept. 21 (2:25 p.m., CBS)
Note to self: Don't pick against the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. The 12s will send hate mail and harassing phone calls for months. Hey, I lived in the great state of Washington for four memorable years. You deserved a title, Seattle. One question, though: Is the nickname "12s" a nod to the number of 'Hawk fans pre-Pete Carroll?
Prediction: Seahawks 43, Broncos 8 (Record: 2-1)
Week 4: Bye
Week 5: Broncos vs. Cardinals
Date: Oct. 5 (2:05 p.m., Fox)
Last season the Broncos got a sneak peek at the site of the Super Bowl with an early season game against the Giants at MetLife Stadium. In Week 5, we can ask a similar question: can they return to University of Phoenix Stadium on Feb. 1, 2015?
Prediction: Broncos 33, Cardinals 16 (Record: 3-1)
Week: 6: Broncos at New York Jets
Date: Oct. 12 (11 a.m., CBS)
If Peyton Manning had considered Eric Decker an indispensable part in the Broncos' offense, Jesse's hubby would still be breaking hearts in Colorado. Instead, the Big Heartthrob is in the Big Apple, where I suspect he will prove the doubters wrong.
Prediction: Broncos 27, Jets 6 (Record: 4-1)
Week 7: Broncos vs. 49ers
Date: Oct. 19 (6:30 p.m., NBC)
The West is best. No other division is predicted to win more games than the NFC West (35.5 wins), according to the folks in Las Vegas. Only the Broncos are expected to win as many games as the Niners and Seahawks (11). The loser: East Coast bias.
Prediction: Niners 17, Broncos 16 (Record: 4-2)
Week 8: Broncos vs. San Diego
Date: Oct. 23 (6:25 p.m., CBS)
Ex-Charger Shaun Phillips is now an ex-Bronco. Considering the cold, hard cash awarded DeMarcus Ware ($20 million guaranteed), the ex-Cowboy better outproduce the 12 sacks scored by Phillips in his one season with the Broncos.
Prediction: Broncos 27, Chargers 21 (Record: 5-2)
Week 9: Broncos at New England
Date: Nov. 2 (2:25 p.m., CBS)
It must be nice to be the Patriots. Once again, Las Vegas believes the Pats own an easy road to the playoffs. The predicted win totals for the AFC East foreshadow another division title: New England (10 wins), Dolphins (7.5), Bills (6.5), Jets (6.5).
Prediction: Broncos 37, Patriots 36 (Record: 6-2)
Week 10: Broncos at Oakland
Date: Nov. 9 (2:05 p.m., CBS)
Peyton Manning's performance at Oakland was the finest display of quarterbacking I've seen: 266 yards and four touchdowns — in the first half. But it was just the Raiders, you say? Oakland players fought with coaches on the sideline. They cared.
Prediction: Broncos 37, Raiders 17 (Record: 7-2)
Week 11: Broncos at St. Louis
Date: Nov. 16 (11 a.m., CBS)
The Rams nabbed reliable middle linebacker James Laurinaitis in the 2009 draft. Nice pick, St. Louis. He's started every game the past five seasons. The Broncos had 10 picks in 2009. How many are still here? Only special teams whiz David Bruton Jr.
Prediction: Broncos 42, Rams 14 (Record: 8-2)
Week 12: Broncos vs. Miami
Date: Nov. 23 (2:25 p.m., CBS)
Familiar faces line the Broncos' 2014 schedule like a high school reunion. Welcome back, Knowshon Moreno. Here's a fun game: gather your buddies for a friendly wager. Who scores more fantasy points on Nov. 23, Moreno or Montee Ball?
Prediction: Broncos 35, Dolphins 24 (Record: 9-2)
Week 13: Broncos at Kansas City
Date: Nov. 30 (6:30 p.m., NBC)
Did Emmanuel Sanders do the Chiefs wrong? Kansas City sure thinks so. Before the Broncos signed the wide receiver, the Chiefs thought they had a deal. "There was no handshake," Sanders said. There won't be during his first game in Kansas City, either.
Prediction: Broncos 28, Chiefs 24 (Record: 10-2)
Week 14: Broncos vs. Buffalo
Date: Dec. 7 (2:05 p.m., CBS)
Still stinging from the Smackdown in the Swamp? Super Bowl losses leave a mark. Ask the Bills, who own the NFL record for consecutive defeats in the Big One (four). They can't trump the Broncos, who own the most Super Bowl losses, period (five).
Prediction: Broncos 45, Bills 17 (Record: 11-2)
Week 15: Broncos at San Diego
Date: Dec. 14 (2:05 p.m., CBS)
The sunshine of San Diego has hosted three Super Bowls, the most recent in 2003. Hey, Chargers: time to renovate those digs? Sites of the next three Big Games: Glendale (Ariz.) in 2015, Santa Clara (Calif.) in 2016 and Houston in 2017.
Prediction: Chargers 21, Broncos 20 (Record: 11-3)
Week 16: Broncos at Bengals
Date: Dec. 22 (6:30 p.m., ESPN)
Peyton Manning is super for a football team. He's awful for print deadlines. Denver has five games in prime time - vs. Indianapolis, vs. San Francisco, vs. San Diego, at Kansas City, at Cincinnati - and all five opponents figure to be in the playoff hunt.
Prediction: Broncos 28, Bengals 24 (Record: 12-3)
Week 17: Broncos vs. Oakland
Date: Dec. 28 (2:25 p.m., CBS)
There's one player who makes the Raiders relevant again: Johnny Football is made for silver and black. Do us all a favor and make it happen, NFL.
Prediction: Broncos 38, Raiders 17 (Record: 13-3)