Denver Broncos schedule: Analyzing prime time games

Sayre Bedinger
Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) grabs a loose ball ahead of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl 50 at Levi
Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) grabs a loose ball ahead of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl 50 at Levi /

Denver Broncos schedule: Analyzing the prime time games for the reigning Super Bowl champions, starting with a Super Bowl 50 rematch…

The road to Super Bowl 51 starts with the Super Bowl 50 champion Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night football, which our Ty Walden reported on earlier Thursday evening…

The Broncos, despite the lack of Peyton Manning, are still one of the most popular teams and biggest audience draws for the NFL, and were given the maximum five prime time games. Those five prime time games include three appearances on NBC’s Sunday Night Football (including the Thursday night opener), one on NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football, and one on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.

Let’s examine the Broncos’ prime time matchups…

Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers (Thursday, September 8th, NBC)

The rematch of Super Bowl 50 is going to be the NFL’s season opener, and the juices are already flowing…

The Panthers will have a key player back this time around in Kelvin Benjamin (presumably) who was out all of this past season with a knee injury suffered in the offseason. Benjamin’s presence will provide Cam Newton with his favorite target from two seasons ago, but we don’t want to start assuming he’s going to be able to get the football out of his hands very quickly, now…

The intrigue in this game is quite obvious, even though these teams aren’t rivals or anything. The Broncos had an early season matchup in 2014 with the Seattle Seahawks, who had just dismantled them in the previous Super Bowl. The Broncos were much more competitive this time around, but the Seahawks prevailed in overtime.

Broncos at Chargers (Thursday, October 13th, NFL Network/CBS)

The Broncos have been getting a divisional game pretty much every year on the NFL Network Thursday night slate of games, and this one comes in a week six matchup against Philip Rivers and the Chargers.

The last time the Broncos went to San Diego in a week six primetime matchup was just four years ago, when they trailed 24-0 at halftime. Peyton Manning and the Denver offense mounted one of the most incredible comebacks I have seen, coupled with some huge plays on defense and special teams by Elvis Dumervil, Chris Harris Jr., and Tony Carter.

And of course, Von Miller.

The Broncos wound up winning the most improbable Monday Night Football comeback as only they could, and it wound up being the catalyst for a winning streak that lasted through the end of the regular season.

It was also the start of the Broncos’ ownership over San Diego, who has beaten Denver one time since Peyton Manning’s arrival.

Broncos vs. Texans (Monday, October 24th, ESPN)

This game was the one that many thought would be the opener of the season, but how could the NFL go wrong with a Super Bowl rematch in that spot?

This game is going to be incredible. The Broncos will welcome back to town the quarterback who could be the guy leading the Super Bowl champions, but he decided not to for $2 million more per season. We’ll never forget you, Brent…

With Osweiler’s return to Denver comes the matchup that many fans are going to have been chomping at the bit to see. The Broncos players are ready for him, as well.

Broncos at Raiders (Sunday, November 6th, NBC)

The Broncos get a shot at the Raiders in prime time, on the road. Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, Khalil Mack, and the crew in Oakland are vastly improved, so the NFL is probably really excited about this November matchup.

It’s Broncos vs. Raiders, and unlike the last few years (with the exception of 2015), this should be a competitive game between two teams that could legitimately be contenders for playoff spots.

Broncos at Chiefs (Sunday, December 25th, NBC)

This is the Broncos’ final prime time game of the season. In case you’re keeping score at home, that’s three divisional games in prime time, all of which are away games.

Thanks NFL.

The last game the Broncos played in Kansas City was a wild comeback on Thursday Night Football in week 2 of the 2015 season, where Bradley Roby scooped up a Jamaal Charles fumble and took it for a touchdown to put the cherry on top of Denver’s insane late-game rally.

The Chiefs are going to be contending for the playoffs, likely, so this should be a game with huge divisional stakes.