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Denver Broncos' schedule 2020: Fans must wait for AFC West slate

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The Broncos' biggest can't-miss game on the 2020 schedule (0:37)

Jeff Legwold tabs the Broncos' Week 3 matchup against the Bucs as the team's most intriguing matchup of the season. (0:37)

The Denver Broncos' schedule for 2020 was released Thursday.

The 2020 NFL season will kick off on Thursday, Sept. 10, with the Houston Texans at the Kansas City Chiefs. ESPN will have a Monday Night Football doubleheader on Sept. 14 featuring the Pittsburgh Steelers at the New York Giants (7:10 p.m. ET) and the Tennessee Titans at the Denver Broncos (10:20 p.m. ET).

Check out the full week-by-week schedule here. Here’s what is in store for the Broncos:

Game-by-game prediction

Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold is predicting a 9-7 finish:

Sept. 14: vs. Tennessee, Win

Sept. 20: at Pittsburgh, Loss

Sept. 27: vs. Tampa Bay, Loss

Oct. 4: at New York Jets, Win

Oct. 11: at New England, Loss

Oct. 18: vs. Miami, Win

Oct. 25: vs. Kansas City, Loss

Nov. 1: Bye

Nov. 8: at Atlanta, Win

Nov. 15: at Las Vegas, Loss

Nov. 22: vs. Los Angeles Chargers, Win

Nov. 29: vs. New Orleans, Loss

Dec. 6: at Kansas City, Loss

Dec. 13: at Carolina, Win

Dec. 19-20: vs. Buffalo, Win

Dec. 26-27: at Los Angeles Chargers, Win

Jan. 3: vs. Las Vegas, Win

Strength of schedule: 12th, .512

Breakdown

Despite four consecutive playoff misses and three consecutive losing seasons, the Broncos get some prime-time duty over the season's first month. The nation will get an early look at quarterback Drew Lock and the Broncos' revamped offense as they open the season as part of Monday Night Football’s doubleheader -- against the Titans -- and then have a Thursday night appearance in Week 4 against the Jets at MetLife Stadium. Overall, however, they have just three prime-time appearances scheduled with the possibility of getting flexed into one later in the season if things go well. The Broncos also face Tom Brady for the 18th time in Week 3, in Denver, but for the first time since Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady's teams have gone 7-6 against the Broncos in the regular season, 1-3 in the playoffs. The Broncos don’t play an AFC West game until October (Kansas City in Week 7), and they finish overall with three of their last five games on the road.

Out of the gate

The Broncos were 2-6 in the first half of the 2019 season, 3-5 in first half in 2018, 2-6 in the first half in 2017. They are slated to have three road games, all in the Eastern Time zone, among their first five games this time around, with trips to Pittsburgh, New England and to face the Jets. The Broncos once again will open as the second half of the Monday night doubleheader, and Denver is usually a good bet to win, having gone 10-3 in season openers since 2010 and 14-5 in openers since 2001. Last season’s 0-4 start marked the first time the Broncs had even started 0-2 since 1999, the season after John Elway had retired as a player and the Broncos were coming off back-to-back Super Bowl wins.

Honor roll

Broncos coach Vic Fangio has said he believes the team’s defense will be improved, and Denver will get its chance to prove it against some of the most prolific passers in league history. In addition to their two games against Patrick Mahomes, the Broncos could face the quarterbacks who are No. 1 (Drew Brees), No. 2 (Brady), No. 8 (Ben Roethlisberger) and No. 10 (Matt Ryan) all time in passing yards. Those are four of the 10 quarterbacks in league history to top 50,000 yards -- and four of the five active quarterbacks to have topped 50,000 yards. Philip Rivers is the fifth active quarterback to have topped 50,000 career passing yards and this will be the first time the Broncos don't face him in a regular-season game since 2004.