It's been known for some time now (March 19, 2012?) that the Broncos would be featured several times on national television this season; turns out they'll play under the lights five times in 2013.
As previously reported by Jason La Canfora, Denver will host Baltimore as the Thursday night season kickoff game on September 5 on NBC. The opener will be the Broncos' first chance to exact at least a measure of revenge on the team that unceremoniously dumped them from the 2012 playoffs.
It's become tradition for the defending SB champs to host the season opener, but a parking lot conflict (really) with the Baltimore Orioles made a Ravens home game on that Thursday an impossibility. Baltimore's only other national TV-worthy road opponents, at least from our standpoint, are Chicago and Pittsburgh.
|1||Thursday||Sep 5||vs Baltimore||8:30pm||NBC|
|2||Sunday||Sep 15||@ Giants||4:25pm||CBS|
|3||Monday||Sep 23||vs Oakland||8:40pm||ESPN|
|4||Sunday||Sep 29||vs Philadelphia||4:25pm||FOX|
|5||Sunday||Oct 6||@ Dallas||4:25pm||CBS|
|6||Sunday||Oct 13||vs Jacksonville||4:05pm||CBS|
|7||Sunday||Oct 20||@ Indianapolis||8:30pm||NBC|
|8||Sunday||Oct 27||vs Washington||4:25pm||FOX|
|10||Sunday||Nov 10||@ San Diego||4:25pm||CBS|
|11||Sunday||Nov 17||vs Kansas City||4:05pm||CBS|
|12||Sunday||Nov 24||@ New England||8:30pm||NBC|
|13||Sunday||Dec 1||@ Kansas City||1:00pm||CBS|
|14||Sunday||Dec 8||vs Tennessee||4:05pm||CBS|
|15||Thursday||Dec 12||vs San Diego||8:25pm||NFL|
|16||Sunday||Dec 22||@ Houston||1:00pm||CBS|
|17||Sunday||Dec 29||@ Oakland||4:25pm||CBS|
All times Eastern
The other night games will be Week 3 against Oakland (MNF), Week 7 at Indianapolis (SNF), Week 12 at New England (SNF), and Week 15 in San Diego (TNF).
In the networks' annual tug-of-war over marquee teams and players, NBC is again the big winner, at least in Denver's case - they'll have the Broncos and Peyton Manning on their network three times in 2012.
One surprise is that the Broncos will not be playing on Thanksgiving; it had been speculated that they would be Dallas's opponent for their traditional Turkey Day home game.
Denver's regular bye is Week 9, smack dab in the middle of the schedule, while they'll have two mini-byes - between Weeks 1 and 2, and between Weeks 15 and 16.
NBC's other Broncos showcases will include Manning's return to Indianapolis and the dome he built in Week 7, and the fourteenth showdown between Peyton and Tom Brady, in Week 12.
CBS gets one big storyline to cover, in the form of Peyton vs. little brother Eli at the Meadowlands in Week 2.
Denver's mirror divisions this year are the NFCE and AFCS, with the NFCE matchups all coming within the first half of the season. Two weeks after the Peyton/Eli showdown, Denver will host the Eagles and new coach Chip Kelly, with his presumable up-tempo offense. The following Sunday, the Broncos will head to Dallas and the Jerry Dome.
Week 8 will close out the NFCE slate, with Mike Shanahan's first visit as an opposing coach since his firing after the 2008 season.
Aside from Kelly, the Broncos will face new first-time NFL head coaches Gus Bradley in Week 6, and former Denver OC Mike McCoy in Weeks 10 and 15. The only newly relocated coach on Denver's slate is Kansas City's Andy Reid, whom they'll see in twice in three weeks - Weeks 11 and 13.
The Broncos have just two pairs of back-to-back road games this season - at New England and Kansas City (Weeks 10 and 11), and at Houston and Oakland (Weeks 16 and 17), but that means four of their last six will be away from the friendly confines of SAF@MH.
They also received something of a gift in the form of back-to-back home games for their shortest week of the season - Weeks 14 and 15 against Tennessee and San Diego. Thanks to this scheduling, the team will not face the extra burden of either returning home that Sunday night or traveling for its game four nights later.
Although the schedule is littered with gaudy matchups, the Broncos will only play five games against teams that made the playoffs in 2012 (Baltimore, Indy, Washington, New England, Houston).
If there's any singular theme to Denver's schedule beyond the Peyton storylines, the Broncos will be seeing their former assistants or head coaches seven times in 2013 (Shanahan, McCoy, Dennis Allen, Josh McDaniels, Gary Kubiak).
With the exception of the Week 15 Thursday night game versus San Diego, each of Denver's Week 11 through 17 matchups are eligible to be flexed - either into the SNF slot, or out of it in the case of the New England game (obviously not happening).
As for whether it's an easy or difficult schedule, IAOFM readers know quite well there's no telling at this juncture. We'll have answers in about eight months...
We've added Denver's schedule as a new feature which can be found in the header.