Denver Broncos | News

2013 Slate Oozes Storylines


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **We've known the whos and wheres of the 2013 schedule since late December. Now we know the whens -- which reveals a slate that oozes storylines.

-- For openers, it's Baltimore, thanks in part to the Major League Baseball schedule, which had the Orioles at home on Sept. 5, forcing the Ravens to forego the recent tradition of having the defending champions open at home on a Thurday night. This will be the Broncos' 23rd game against a defending Super Bowl champion; they are 12-10 in that scenario, including 7-3 at home. The Broncos have lost three consecutive games to defending world champions, falling at Indianapolis in 2007, to the Steelers in 2009 and at Green Bay in 2011. This will be the Broncos' first opening game against a defending world champion since 2000 (a 41-36 loss at St. Louis), and their first home Week 1 game against the Lombardi Trophy holders since 1981, when Denver dealt the Raiders a 9-7 loss at Mile High Stadium.

-- Week 2 is Manning Bowl III. Peyton's side won the previous two games, 26-21 in 2006 at the Meadowlands and 38-14 in 2010 in Indianapolis. It also marks former Giants Defensive Coordinator John Fox's sixth game against the Giants since leaving to become the Panthers' head coach in 2002; he's 3-3 in those games, including a playoff win in January 2006.

-- Road games against the Giants and Cowboys will mark the Broncos' first regular-season visits to MetLife Stadium and Cowboys Stadium, respectively. This will be the fourth time since 2006 and eighth time since 1998 that a Broncos schedule features at least two stadiums in which the Broncos have never played a regular-season game. The Broncos played a preseason game at Cowboys Stadium in 2011.

-- We shouldn't have been surprised that one of the games with the Raiders was slated for prime time. The teams' Week 3 prime-time duel will be the 17th on Monday Night Football; the Broncos hold an 8-7-1 edge in those games. This will be the 11th time in the past 19 seasons that the teams have played on Monday night, and the 14th in the last 19 that at least one of their games has been in prime time.

-- Six games will be against rookie head coaches; the first is in Week 4 against Chip Kelly's Philadelphia Eagles. History says to expect a high-scoring affair; the winning team has scored at least 28 points in the last seven games of the series, dating back to 1986. The Broncos have averaged 39 points per game in their last three meetings with the Eagles.

-- It was a bit of a stunner that the Broncos were bypassed for Thanksgiving, given that Raiders-Cowboys is a considerably less appetizing matchup, on paper, of the two possible duels. But if there's one clear fact of Thanksgiving football, it is this: people will watch no matter who plays, which we learned during the Lions' 10 consecutive losing seasons from 2001-10. (And through seven consecutive losing Lions seasons from 1984-90.)

-- Would you believe that Jacksonville has had one of the biggest hexes over the Broncos of any team in recent memory? Denver has lost five of its last six to the Jaguars and has never defeated them at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Jack Del Rio was 4-1 against the Broncos, but now he's on Denver's side.

-- The Broncos have lost five in a row, six of the last seven and eight of the last 10 against the Colts. Of course, that was largely because of Peyton Manning. When Manning started and finished a game for the Colts, they're 8-1 against the Broncos, including playoffs. The Colts' record against the Broncos in all other meetings is 2-10.

-- One of the first games that catches the eye is the Week 8 home clash with Mike Shanahan's Washington Redskins. This will be the seventh time in Broncos history that they've faced one of their former head coaches, and the first since Oct. 4, 2009, a 17-10 Broncos win over the Wade Phillips-led Dallas Cowboys. The Broncos are 4-2 in these games -- 1-1 against Ray Malavasi, 0-1 against Lou Saban, 2-0 (including a Super Bowl XXXIII win) against Dan Reeves and 1-0 against Phillips.

-- The longest road trip (New England, 3,508 miles round-trip in Week 12) is immediately followed by the shortest (Kansas City, 1,066 miles round-trip).

-- Denver and New England might as well be division rivals. Their Week 12 clash is their 17th (including playoff games) in the last 19 seasons. Denver will go back to New England in 2014 no matter how the teams finish; the Broncos face the AFC East that season, and the matchups will be reversals of their 2011 games (Denver will be at the Jets and Patriots and host the Bills and Dolphins).

-- Like Broncos-Raiders, Manning-Brady is a sure bet in primetime. This will mark the fifth primetime duel between the two. Another was scheduled in 2008, but Brady was injured and replaced by Matt Cassel. Manning is 3-1 against Brady in primetime, regular-season games.

-- The home finale against San Diego will be the Broncos' sixth game on NFL Network. Denver has won four consecutive games on the in-house channel, and is 4-2 overall on it. The Broncos are 7-9 all-time in Thursday games (including Thanksgiving); in Thursday games not played on a holiday, they are 3-2.

-- This will be the first time since 2008 and just the second since 2006 that the Broncos have closed a regular season on the road. The consecutive road games at the end of the year are the Broncos' first since 2003, when they closed with an Indianapolis-Green Bay road swing. The Colts and Packers both eventually won their divisions, and the Broncos needed to win at least once to secure a playoff bid, which they did with a 31-17 win at Indianapolis.

-- While the Broncos have closed every season since 2008 and 11 of the last 18 with an AFC West rival, this is the first time since 1995 that Denver has played the Raiders in the regular-season finale. In the 17 seasons that followed, Denver closed with San Diego six times, Kansas City three times and even former division rival Seattle once without finishing with Oakland. Even non-division foes San Francisco and Indianapolis popped up twice to end the year in that span. Denver had been scheduled to finish 2001 with the Raiders, but that became the next-to-last game after the Week 2 contests were moved to the end of the season after the post-9/11 postponement.