As in past years, I am going to predict the Denver Broncos' final won-loss record based on the results of the first game. In 2009 and 2010 I correctly predicted the win total both years. In 2011 I was way off as I didn't anticipate the impact Tim Tebow would have (who did?)
I again see the 2012 opener as a very important game. The playoff rematch against the Pittsburgh Steelers will tell a lot about the Broncos and the effectiveness of Peyton Manning. I think this Sunday night's game in Denver will be a high scoring game on both sides. The Broncos starting second year safety Rahim Moore against the Steelers passing attack has me worried. I'm not convinced Moore is ready to be a starter. The Steelers have one of the best deep passing attacks in the league, led by Ben Roethlisberger throwing to receivers Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace.
Pittsburgh has its own trouble in the secondary. Starting safety Ryan Clark cannot play in Denver due to health risks because of the high altitude. Clark's absence played a big part in Tim Tebow's 300+ yard passing day in the Broncos overtime playoff win over the Steelers in January. Peyton Manning, coming off an impressive preseason showing vs San Francisco, is more than capable of having a big passing day against the depleted Steeler secondary.
If the Broncos beat Pittsburgh on Sunday night, I predict a 10-6 record and a division crown for Denver. I see the Broncos winning three of their first four (all home games) which will give them momentum going into tough road contests at New England and at San Diego.
If the Broncos lose to the Steelers Sunday night, I predict a disappointing 7-9 record. Denver's schedule is extremely tough. A loss to Pittsburgh will be followed by a loss to Atlanta on Monday night, and then another loss to Houston at home with a short week of practice. The Broncos will be unable to recover from the 0-3 start.
Whatever happens Sunday night, I will not be there to see it. I am missing my first home opener since 1966! I will be away in Alaska this Sunday night; I won't even see the game on TV. While disappointed I am going to miss one of the most anticipated home openers in years, I'm hoping for a Broncos win. I'm predicting a Denver victory will eventually lead to a home playoff game at Sports Authority Field in January 2013 - a game I will not miss!