Five nationally televised games—including a home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football—and matchups with four of the seven other 2011 Division Champions—will highlight quarterback Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos’ 2012 regular-season schedule, which was released by the National Football League last Tuesday.
This year’s five contests featured in primetime in the national spotlight are the second-most in franchise history for a single-season (had six back in 2006). The Broncos open their 2012 campaign at home for the second straight season when they host the Steelers on Sunday, Sept. 9, at 8:20 p.m. ET in their 34th all-time appearance on Sunday Night Football.
It is just the second time in franchise history (1994-95) that the team has opened successive seasons in primetime.
The Week 1 get-together with the Steelers marks a rematch of the Broncos’ 29-23 overtime victory in the 2011 AFC Wild Card Round and the first Sunday Night Football appearance for the club since the 2008 season.
Denver will make its 64th all-time appearance on Monday Night Football in Week 2 at Atlanta on Sept. 17. The Broncos will be appearing on program for the 21st consecutive year, extending the league’s longest active streak and representing the second-longest streak in NFL history.
It is the eighth time in club annals that Denver has played on Monday Night Football and Sunday Night Football in consecutive weeks. A clash with the Houston Texans on Sept. 23 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High the following week will represent the third consecutive contest against an opponent that earned playoff berth in 2011.
Denver will open AFC West divisional play the following Sunday at home against the Oakland Raiders on Sept. 30 before playing a pair of road contests.
Next, Manning will rival against his equal in quarterback Tom Brady as the Broncos will journey to New England for a showdown against the defending AFC-Champion Patriots on Oct. 7, which extends the team’s streak of playing one of the previous season’s Super Bowl teams to 13 years.
The team then returns to Monday Night Football as they will square off against the Chargers on Oct. 15, marking the third time in the past four seasons that the two divisional foes have matched up on Monday Night Football in San Diego. It is the 23rd season in team history that the club has appeared on Monday Night Football multiple times and the first since 2009.
After a bye in Week 7, Denver returns home on October 28 to take on the New Orleans Saints in the club’s second Sunday Night Football matchup of the season.
The Broncos then take to the road in three of the next four weeks with games against the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 4 and the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 11, before returning home against the Bolts on Nov. 18. The Broncos then continues divisional play with a game at Kansas City on Nov. 25.
A home game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 2 precedes the club’s final two road contests of the regular season. Denver kicks off its third multiple-contest road trip of the 2012 campaign with a battle against Oakland on Dec. 6 on Thursday Night Football on NFL Network.
The team completes its road schedule with a game against the AFC North champions in the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 16 – the third time in four years that the two clubs square off at M&T Bank Stadium and closes its schedule with a pair of Sunday home tests against the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 23 and the Chiefs on Dec. 30.
It marks the fourth straight year that Denver’s season finale has been played at home and the second consecutive season that the final game has been against the Chiefs.
The 2012 regular season schedule features seven contests against clubs that qualified for the playoffs last season. Moreover, their opponents combined for a record of 139-117 (.543) in 2011 for the second-best winning percentage in the league.