Denver Broncos' schedule features tough early stretch

With uncertainty surrounding the offense, the Broncos will likely need to lean heavily on their defense again next season. Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Breakdown: The Denver Broncos will face the Carolina Panthers (in the season opener), the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots in Denver in addition to their traditional AFC West opponents. The Broncos will have an early look at where things stand given they will open in the Super Bowl rematch with the Panthers, followed by Week 2 game against the Colts to go with a road game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3. The Broncos will also have to wait to face the Kansas City Chiefs, given both games against the division rival fall in the final six weeks of the season -- including a Christmas night game in Arrowhead Stadium. Also waiting in December is a game against the New England Patriots, a rematch of the AFC Championship Game.

Circle the date: When quarterback Brock Osweiler said signing with the Houston Texans was his best opportunity to succeed over the long haul, it got the attention of many of his former teammates. Osweiler and the Texans will come to Denver for an Oct. 24 game. What the Broncos have done at quarterback by that time remains to be seen. But it's clear there were, despite what all involved have said, some hard feelings about Osweiler's exit. Broncos general manager John Elway said the team wanted to keep players who wanted to be in Denver. Osweiler was obviously happy at the chance to play outside the long shadow cast by Elway and Peyton Manning.

Pack up and go: The Broncos will have to handle their business on the road if they are going to have a chance at their sixth consecutive division title. When November opens until the end of the regular season they will play five of their final eight games on the road. The Broncos do have their bye week in there -- Week 11 -- but it presents their most difficult stretch of road games of the season. And it includes, at least at the moment, two games in the early time slot -- 11 a.m. MT kickoff -- at Jacksonville and at Tennessee.

Strength of schedule: 14th, .504

Broncos Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

  • Week 1: Thursday, Sept. 8, Carolina, 8:30 p.m.

  • Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 18, Indianapolis, 4:25 p.m.

  • Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 25, at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

  • Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 2, at Tampa Bay, 4:05 p.m.

  • Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 9, Atlanta, 4:05 p.m.

  • Week 6: Thursday, Oct. 13, at San Diego, 8:25 p.m.

  • Week 7: Monday, Oct. 24, Houston, 8:30 p.m.

  • Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 30, San Diego, 4:05 p.m.

  • Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 6, at Oakland, 8:30 p.m.

  • Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 13, at New Orleans, 1 p.m.

  • Week 11: BYE

  • Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 27, Kansas City, 4:25 p.m.

  • Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 4, at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.

  • Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 11, at Tennessee, 1 p.m.

  • Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 18, New England, 4:25 p.m.

  • Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 25, at Kansas City, 8:30 p.m.

  • Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 1, Oakland, 4:25 p.m.