Denver Broncos schedule analysis

Breakdown: The John Fox era will start in the national spotlight. The Broncos will host Oakland on Monday Night Football, Sept. 12 on ESPN on the back end of a doubleheader. This has become an AFC West tradition. The Raiders and Broncos opened the season in this game in Oakland in 2008.

The Broncos lobbied hard for this gig. It is the first time they have opened at home since 2004. So, this spotlight game will be a special way to begin the John Elway-Fox era.

If the Broncos are going to improve in 2011, they must start early. After playing Oakland to start the season, Denver hosts Cincinnati in Week 2. It plays at Tennessee on the road the next week before traveling to Super Bowl champion Green Bay in Week 4. The Broncos have to take advantage of the early slate because they are tied for the third toughest schedule in the NFL.

Complaint department: The Broncos will play all three of their AFC West roads games in a four game stretch, spanning weeks 9-12. These are the dog days of the season. If the Broncos haven’t faded by their ninth game, they must buckle down and try to stay in the division race with this tough stretch.

Bring a parka: The Broncos’ four final games should all be cold-weather affairs. Denver has three home games in that stretch. It’s one roadie is Dec. 24 at Buffalo. It should be a white Christmas Eve for the Broncos.

Broncos Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Monday, Sep. 12, Oakland, 10:15 PM

Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 18, Cincinnati, 4:15 PM

Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 25, at Tennessee, 1:00 PM

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 2, at Green Bay, 4:15 PM

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 9, San Diego, 4:15 PM

Week 6: BYE

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 23, at Miami, 1:00 PM

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 30, Detroit, 4:05 PM

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 6, at Oakland, 4:05 PM

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 13, at Kansas City, 1:00 PM

Week 11: Thursday, Nov. 17, NY Jets, 8:20 PM

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 27, at San Diego, 4:15 PM

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 4, at Minnesota, 4:05 PM

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 11, Chicago, 4:05 PM

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 18, New England, 4:15 PM

Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 24, at Buffalo, 1:00 PM

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 1, Kansas City, 4:15 PM