Denver Broncos schedule analysis

Breakdown: Peyton Manning’s first game as the Broncos’ quarterback will be against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the same team that former Denver quarterback Tim Tebow beat in the playoffs in his final game with the team. The NFL will put Manning in the immediate spotlight -- his Broncos debut and first game since the 2010 season will be on Sunday night in Week 1.

The Broncos have two Monday night games, starting in Week 2 at Atlanta. They play in Week 6 at San Diego as well. The prime-time power of Manning is strong. Denver hosts New Orleans in Week 8 on Sunday night football and plays at Oakland in Week 14 on Thursday night.

The Broncos have the second toughest schedule in the NFL, but they play three of their first four games at home and they play their final two games of the season at home.

Complaint department: It’s simply a byproduct of the tough schedule. There are no breaks. The season looks like one tough stretch. Denver must take advantage of starting and finishing the season at home.

The Ryan Clark factor: The Steelers’ standout safety missed the final game of his 2011 season and he will miss the first game of his 2012 season. He has a physical condition that makes it highly dangerous for him to play in the high altitude of Denver. He lost his spleen and gall bladder after playing a game there in 2007. Just a another reason the Steelers are probably not thrilled to go back to Denver so soon after the painful playoff loss.

Broncos Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, Pittsburgh, 8:20 PM

Week 2: Monday, Sept. 17, at Atlanta, 8:30 PM

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, Houston, 4:15 PM

Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, Oakland, 4:05 PM

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, at New England, 4:15 PM

Week 6: Monday, Oct. 15, at San Diego, 8:30 PM

Week 7: BYE

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28, New Orleans, 8:20 PM

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, at Cincinnati, 1:00 PM

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11, at Carolina, 1:00 PM

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, San Diego, 4:15 PM

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, at Kansas City, 1:00 PM

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, Tampa Bay, 4:05 PM

Week 14: Thursday, Dec. 6, at Oakland, 8:20 PM

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, at Baltimore, 1:00 PM

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, Cleveland, 4:05 PM

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, Kansas City, 4:15 PM