Each year the NFL tries to make a big deal out of every little thing they do because, well, they can. At this time of year, the league hypes up its schedule release by putting it on primetime television and releasing all schedules at the same time.
However, every year by the time the official release rolls around at 20:00 EST most have been leaked in some way — the Broncos schedule was known in its entirety hours before by piecing together various leaks.
Nonetheless, seeing the schedule provides a new sense of excitement — and maybe a little dread — knowing the new season is approaching quickly, albeit some four months away.
The Broncos will have the second toughest schedule this year, CBS Sports reported in February. Their opponents went 136-117-3 in 2018 for a .573 win percentage in 2018.
The Broncos have only four games in 2019 with a win probability of higher than 50%, including both games against the Oakland Raiders.
Those are not great odds but a lot can change as the offseason progresses, especially when you factor in that the Broncos are going to be a completely different team than in recent years.
The NFL Schedule is here! Projected win probability by week for each team: pic.twitter.com/vYU5O6Fb0j— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) April 18, 2019
Naturally, the New England Patriots have the second-easiest schedule, but there is some good news for Broncos Country because the Raiders have the toughest schedule.
At this stage of the 2019 season, here are few of the intriguing matchups for the Broncos, in no particular order.Embed from Getty Images
Week 1 — @ Oakland Raiders — Mon. 9.9.19
It’s always exciting to start the season against a division rival.
The Raiders have been awful of late, and the rivalry hasn’t been as competitive as in previous years, but a lot has happened since Jon Gruden returned as head coach, and there will be further changes this offseason with the Raiders owning three first-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Among their score of acquisitions this offseason, they have added drama-queen wide receiver Antonio Brown after he forced his way out of Pittsburgh, along with former Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall.
The Broncos haven’t been much better than the Raiders the past two seasons but with a new quarterback in Joe Flacco and a completely revamped coaching staff, this will be a very different looking team.
This game will be one of only two primetime games for the Broncos and is most likely the last time they will play at Oakland Coliseum with the impending move of the Raiders to Las Vegas next year.
Broncos Country will have to wait longer to see their team as this is the second game of a Monday Night Football double-header.Embed from Getty Images
Week 2 — vs Chicago Bears — Sun. 9.15.19
The main attraction to this game is obviously a reunion between new Broncos head coach Vic Fangio and his former team.
Fangio served as the Bears’ defensive coordinator since the 2015 season, which saw the Bears’ defense go from being ranked 30th in the league when he started to third in the league last season.
The Broncos have been carried by their defense in recent years and hope Fangio’s expertise will provide another boost on that side of the ball after two disappointing seasons.
Chicago has become a strong contender after winning the NFC North division last year and was one missed-field goal away from advancing in the playoffs.
Bears head coach Matt Nagy and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky are familiar with Fangio’s defensive schemes and will look to take advantage of that while still retaining a top-tier defense.
On the flipside, Fangio is well aware of Nagy and Trubisky, and they will look to exploit their weaknesses in his first home game in Denver.Embed from Getty Images
Week 11 — at Minnesota Vikings — Sun. 11.17.19
Another reunion of sorts for the Broncos as former head coach Gary Kubiak will be on the other sideline helping manage the Vikings’ offense.
The Broncos will also get an up-close look at Kirk Cousins, the quarterback a lot of Broncos Country wanted them to sign in 2018.
The Vikings also have former Broncos quarterback Kyle Sloter as a backup, and recently signed free agent former Broncos wide receiver Jordan Taylor.
With Joe Flacco now leading the Denver offense, it will be a battle of top-tier quarterbacks and strong defenses.Embed from Getty Images
Week 7 — vs Kansas City Chiefs — Thu. 10.17.19
The second primetime game for the Broncos also comes against a division rival, but this team was one of the best in the AFC last year.
Patrick Mahomes dazzled in his first year as starting quarterback for the Chiefs last season, throwing for over 5,000 yards, 50 touchdowns, and only 12 interceptions.
He made throws across the field, across his body, and with his opposite hand that you just don’t see from your typical quarterback.
Under Andy Reid’s tutelage, Mahomes became a star in the making but this year he may be without one of his main targets. Last year, speedy receiver Tyreek Hill accounted for 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Only tight end Travis Kelce had more receptions (103 to 87) and targets (150 to 137), but Hill averaged 17 yards per reception with 570 yards after the catch.
The NFL is investigating Hill for potential child assault, which could result in a significant suspension — see Adrian Peterson’s suspension in 2014.
If Hill is suspended, or placed on the NFL Commissioner’s Exempt List for any amount of time, it will remove a huge weapon for the KC offense.
Hill’s absence could allow the Broncos defense to pressure Mahomes more while still maintaining coverage in the secondary.
But even if Hill is active for this game, Fangio was able to slow down high powered offenses like the LA Rams last year and could do that against the Chiefs this year.
Week 9 — vs Cleveland Browns — 11.3.19: a very talented team with an inexperienced head coach.
Week 15 — at KC Chiefs — 12.15.19: could be a battle for the AFC West crown.
What do you think, Broncos Country? Which games are you most excited about?