The NFL schedule was released on Thursday night, and the Denver Broncos will kick off the 2013 season the same way the 2012 one ended, by hosting the Baltimore Ravens. The game will be the kickoff game to the NFL season and will take place on September 5th. The game versus the Ravens is only one of many intriguing games for the Broncos. Here’s the schedule in full:
September 5th-vs. Ravens (Thursday Night)
September 15th- @ New York Giants
September 23rd- vs. Oakland Raiders (MNF)
September 29th- vs. Philadelphia Eagles (SNF)
October 6th- @ Dallas Cowboys
October 13th- vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
October 20th- @ Indianapolis Colts (SNF)
October 27th- vs. Washington Redskins
November 10th- @ San Diego Chargers
November 17th- vs. Kansas City Chiefs
November 24th- @ New England Patriots (SNF)
December 1st- @ Chiefs
December 8th- vs. Tennessee Titans
December 12th- vs. Chargers (Thursday night)
December 22nd- @ Houston Texans
December 29th- @ Raiders.
Obviously the game with the Ravens jumps out because of what took place last January where the Broncos were the favorite to win the Super Bowl, but the Ravens went into Denver and crashed the party. There’s no doubt that the Broncos and their fans will be flying high on opening night. Throw in the fact that Elvis Dumervil is on the Ravens now, and the game should be one of the most anticipated openers in recent history.
The schedule also features Peyton Manning returning to Indianapolis to take on the Colts, and Wes Welker facing the Patriots in New England. The return of Manning and Welker will be the stories leading into those games, but both the Colts and the Patriots will be in playoff contention with the Broncos making those huge games.
In addition to the Ravens, Colts and Patriots, the Broncos also play the Texans in Houston. That’s another contest that will have serious playoff ramifications when it comes to potential home-field advantage. The Texans handled the Broncos fairly easily in 2012, but that was before Manning and the team really hit their stride.
The Broncos face all four teams out on the NFC East including the return of Mike Shanahan to Denver for the first time as an opposing coach since being fired following the 2008 season. Shanahan, assuming Robert Griffin III is healthy, brings in an up and coming Redskins team. Make no mistake, that’s a game that Shanahan will want to win badly and could be a very entertaining show between Manning and Griffin.
Manning will also face his brother Eli Manning as the Broncos travel to New York to take on the Giants. The Giants missed the playoffs in 2012, but they still have a lot of talent and will be an extremely tough road test for the Broncos. Rounding out the games versus the NFC East are home versus the Eagles and at the Cowboys. The Cowboys have been disappointing in recent years, but they have talent and that will also be a difficult road game for the Broncos.
The Broncos, as always, will play the Chargers, the Chiefs and the Raiders both home and away. The Chiefs should be much improved and the game in Kansas City will be extremely tough. If former Broncos offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy can fix Phillip Rivers and the Chargers on offense, then they could be dangerous. Overall, though, the Broncos should do no worse than 5-1 within the division.
The NFL did the Broncos a huge favor by scheduling the Giants as the second game of the season. That’s a long trip and now the Broncos have 10 days to prepare and do not lose a day of preparation for travel. It will still be one of the tougher games on the docket, but definitely easier in week two as opposed to week 12.
The toughest part of the schedule is towards the end where the Broncos play four of the last six on the road including the Chiefs, the Patriots and the Texans. On the other side of that, the Broncos have a chance to get off to a fast start with four of the first six at home. The bye week comes right in the middle of the season which is perfect as well.
On paper it looks like a very manageable schedule for the Broncos, but the games are not played on paper. The one thing you can count on is this; the Broncos are all ready counting the days to September 5th.
Follow me on Twitter @Jemorrone7