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The top 5 most-compelling matchups on the Broncos' 2024 schedule

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos' 2024 schedule is here, and that means it's time to take a look at the most-compelling games on Denver's slate.

With a pair of prime-time games and several reunions on the calendar, there's plenty of exciting matchups during the upcoming season.

Let's get to it.

[Note: This ranking is the opinion of the author and does not represent the organization.]

5. Broncos at Saints (Week 7)

One of two prime-time matchups on the Broncos' schedule, Denver's "Thursday Night Football" game against the Saints will represent Head Coach Sean Payton's homecoming to New Orleans. Payton led the Saints to nine playoff appearances and a Super Bowl XLIV win during his tenure, and he'll head back to the bayou in his second season leading the Broncos. A good number of Broncos coaches and players will also return to face their former team. The Saints are led by Payton's former defensive coordinator Dennis Allen and former Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. A number of Payton's former draft picks — including running back Alvin Kamara and cornerback Marshon Lattimore — remain on the Saints, as well.

4. Broncos vs. Chargers (Week 6)

The Chargers' hire of Jim Harbaugh makes Los Angeles one of the most intriguing teams on Denver's schedule. The coaching matchup of Payton vs. Harbaugh features two of the game's elite coaches, and there's also the potential of an all-Oregon quarterback battle if Bo Nix starts for Denver against Justin Herbert. In this matchup, the Broncos will look to keep a three-game winning streak and five-game home winning streak going against the Chargers.

3. Broncos vs. Chiefs (Week 18)

The Broncos will close their season against the Chiefs for the first time since 2021, and this game should serve as a measuring stick for the progress the Broncos will have made in 2024. Last year, Denver earned its first win against Kansas City since 2015 at Empower Field at Mile High, and this game will give the Broncos an idea of where they stand against the back-to-back Super Bowl champions. With a win, Denver would earn back-to-back home wins over the Chiefs for the first time in a decade. Ideally, the Broncos will remain alive in the playoff race heading into Week 18, and there would be no better way to secure a ticket back to postseason than with a win over a division rival.

2. Broncos vs. Steelers (Week 2)

Could you ask for a more compelling home opener? After a two-year stint with the Broncos, Russell Wilson could return to Denver in Week 2 as the Steelers' starting quarterback. The Steelers' uncertainty at the quarterback position and the lack of a prime-time assignment are the only elements that keep this game out of the No. 1 spot, as Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has indicated former first-round pick Justin Fields will also compete for the starting job. In addition to Wilson's potential return, Nix could also make his first home start of his career. If Jarrett Stidham gets the nod, it could be a matchup between last year's quarterback room in Denver. And if Zach Wilson is called upon, we could see a rematch between last year's game in Denver between the two Wilsons — though the roles will have reversed. The home opener is always full of excitement, and this year's schedule only amplifies that.

1. Broncos at Seahawks (Week 1)

This is a very different matchup than the Broncos' 2022 journey to Seattle to open the season, but it's compelling,nonetheless. Denver's season opener grabs the No. 1 spot on this list, in part, because of the unknowns. That begins with the Broncos' quarterback position, where Stidham, Wilson and Nix will battle for the starting job. Will Stidham maintain hold of the job and look to take the next step in his NFL career in Week 1? Will Wilson earn the spot by showing the talent that led to the Jets taking him the with No. 2 overall pick? Or will Nix win the job in training camp and make his highly anticipated debut in Week 1?

There's also uncertainty in Seattle following a coaching change, as former Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald took over for Pete Carroll following the 2023 season. In short, it's hard to know what to expect in this Week 1 game, which should make it highly entertaining.

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