The Broncos' 2020 schedule will be released Thursday at 5:30 p.m. MT, but I couldn't wait to try to predict Denver's upcoming slate.
My best guess at this year's schedule can be seen below, and I used a couple of guiding principles to piece it together. First, I slotted all four of the Broncos' games against NFC opponents for the beginning of the schedule. These games are the least important for playoff seeding, as division games are most important for determining a division champion and conference games are used as a tiebreak for wild-card berths. If the NFL needs to truncate the season because of COVID-19 concerns, it would make sense to cancel inter-conference games over any others.
Similarly, the NFL will want to maximize the potential of playing the six division games. Therefore, I projected those games would all happen over the final eight weeks of the season.
The final game of the season was relatively easy to predict, as the Broncos have had an even rotation of season-ending division opponents since the 2015 season. The Broncos finished with the Chiefs in 2017, the Chargers in 2018 and the Raiders in 2019 — so I think it's the Chiefs' turn again in 2020.
Finally, although the Broncos are an up-and-coming team, I had a hard time finding a third prime-time game for Denver. The Buccaneers and Saints are both big draws, but I doubt the Broncos would have back-to-back prime-time games. I suppose the Broncos' game against Pittsburgh could be a "Sunday Night Football" matchup, as both teams have strong fan bases. In this projection, though, the Broncos go a third consecutive season without a "Sunday Night Football" appearance.
Got your own ideas about the schedule? Tweet at me at @AricDiLalla and let me know!
Week 1: at Carolina Panthers
Week 2: New Orleans Saints
Week 3: at Atlanta Falcons (Monday Night Football)
Week 4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 5: Buffalo Bills
Week 6: at New York Jets
Week 7: Bye Week
Week 8: at New England
Week 9: Miami Dolphins
Week 10: at Kansas City Chiefs
Week 11: at Las Vegas Raiders (Thursday Night Football)
Week 12: Los Angeles Chargers
Week 13: Tennessee Titans
Week 14: at Los Angeles Chargers
Week 15: at Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 16: Las Vegas Raiders
Week 17: Kansas City Chiefs