2017 Broncos Season, Schedule Released
On Thursday night, the NFL unveiled its 2017 schedule. The release is always a big deal, and just one of the ways that, in the midst of April and months prior to the start of the season, the NFL helps football come alive to fans.
But seeing Denver's schedule didn't fill me with joy... Heading into the schedule release we knew it would be brutal. Denver faces the toughest strength of schedule based on opponent records in 2016. That figures. Both the Chiefs and Raiders, who we play twice, were playoff teams with double-digit wins. We also play the Patriots, Giants, Dolphins and Cowboys, four other playoff teams who had good seasons, and the Colts and Redskins who narrowly missed the playoffs. So, yeah, the road will be tough.
On Thursday, we saw how tough. Here's the schedule:
Week 1: Home vs the Chargers on Monday night (final game of the opening weekend)
Week 2: Home vs the Cowboys, the NFC's top seed in 2016
Week 3: At the Buffalo Bills
Week 4: Home against the Raiders
Week 5: Bye
Week 6: Home against the Giants, Sunday night
Week 7: At the Chargers
Week 8: At the Chiefs, AFC Division Champs
Week 9: At the Eagles
Week 10: Home against the Patriots, defending Super Bowl champions
Week 11: Home for the Bengals
Week 12: At the Raiders
Week 13: At the Dolphins, a playoff team and Vance Joseph's old squad
Week 14: Home for the Jets
Week 15: At the Colts, Thursday night
Week 16: At the Redskins
Week 17: Home for the Chiefs
So, drink that in for a minute. We got this, no problem... Let's just say I have some thoughts:
* First, that opening night game... The second game of the opening Monday night double header is played late into the night and never goes as expected. Remember last year, when the 49ers hung 28 on the Rams in a home-opening win then didn't win again until they played the Rams late in the season. So, yeah, it's concerning. Not to mention, the Broncos have had a spotty record against the Chargers the past few seasons.
* The first four weeks are brutal. Sure, we get three of four at home. But we also play the Cowboys and the Raiders, two tough match ups, then have a bye in the first week byes happen.
* But if the start of the season is rough, coming out of the bye is worse. We host the Giants at home on Sunday night in a nationally televised game, then hit the road for three straight. The mid-point in that three game road schedule is a trip to Kansas City, always a tough game. Then the Broncos return home, finally, to face the Patriots, a game that is also always a tough test.
* Thanksgiving weekend finds the Broncos in Oakland, then traveling to Miami the first week in December. After a quick stop home for the Jets, the Broncos have a short week to face the Colts, another traditionally tough test, before going on the road again in Week 16 to face the Redskins, a team that figures to be in the playoff race til the end based on recent evidence.
* The final week of the regular season, which could have big playoff implications, has the Broncos hosting Kansas City. It will be a tough test to end the season.
All-in-all, this is a rough schedule for the Broncos and the new coaching staff. They play eight of 16 games against playoff teams from 2016, and they have an odd home-road balance. If the Broncos don't get off to a strong start they could be out of it by November.