Power Ranking Denver Broncos' 2013 Schedule from Easiest to Hardest Games

Jon Heath@http://twitter.com/JonHeathNFLContributor IApril 19, 2013

Power Ranking Denver Broncos' 2013 Schedule from Easiest to Hardest Games

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    On Thursday evening, the NFL announced the 2013 regular-season schedule.

    As expected, the Denver Broncos received the max six scheduled prime-time games.  The Broncos will play on five different networks, appearing on NBC three times.

    Denver's schedule is jam-packed with storylines, starting with a season opener against the defending Super Bowl champions.

    Let's take a look at all of the team's 2013 games, in order of easiest to hardest.

16: Jacksonville Jaguars

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    When: Week 6, Sun., Oct. 13 at 2:05 p.m. MT.       

    Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High

    Network: CBS

    The Broncos have a relatively easy schedule early on, playing the Jaguars at home just six weeks into the season.  In 2012, the Jaguars were 2-14.

    On paper, it doesn't get much easier than this.

15: Tennessee Titans

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    When: Week 14, Sun., Dec. 8 at 2:05 p.m. MT.

    Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High

    Network: CBS

    Don't expect this game to be flexed into prime time.  The Titans went 6-10 last season and do not appear to be notably improved going into 2013.

    Another easy game on paper.

14: Kansas City Chiefs (Home)

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    When: Week 11, Sun., Nov. 17 at 2:05 p.m. MT.

    Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High

    Network: CBS

    The Broncos' division rivals have historically given them a run for their money, but Denver was able to sweep the AFC West last season.  Going 3-0 at home is the first step.

13: Oakland Raiders (Home)

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    When: Week 3, Mon., Sept. 23 at 6:40 p.m. MT.

    Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High

    Network: ESPN (Monday Night Football)

    Last season, the Broncos beat up the Raiders 26-13 late in the season on Thursday Night Football.  Apparently that's good enough for prime time, as the league has again given the division foes another prime-time game.

    Maybe the Raiders will make it interesting this year.  We're not holding our breath.

12: San Diego Chargers (Home)

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    When: Week 15, Thurs., Dec. 12 at 6:25 p.m. MT.

    Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High

    Network: NFL Network (Thursday Night Football)

    Last season, the Chargers built an early 24-0 halftime lead against the Broncos on Monday Night Football.  The Broncos rallied to come back and win, 35-24.

    That set the Broncos on a dominating run, going on to sweep the AFC West and claim the AFC's No. 1 seed with a 13-3 regular-season record.  This year, San Diego will get a shot at revenge.

11: Dallas Cowboys

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    When:  Week 5, Sun., Oct. 6 at 3:25 CDT.

    Where: Cowboys Stadium

    Network: CBS

    This game was expected to be played on Thanksgiving, but the league decided to make it early in the season.  It's hard to imagine Tony Romo topping Peyton Manning, but stranger things have happened.

10: Oakland Raiders (Road)

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    When: Week 17, Sun., Dec. 29 at 1:25 p.m. PST

    Where: O.co Coliseum 

    Network: CBS

    Playing in Oakland will obviously be harder than hosting the Raiders in Denver, which is why this game is ranked so high.  As the saying goes, "any team can be defeated on any given Sunday."

9: Philadelphia Eagles

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    When: Week 4, Sun., Sept. 29 at 2:25 p.m. MDT

    Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High

    Network: FOX

    Quarterback Michael Vick has played historically well in Denver, and with Chip Kelly now running Philly's offense, this game figures to be a must-watch.  If it was in Philadelphia, an upset would be plausible, but that seems unlikely to happen in Denver.

    It's not unrealistic to project the Broncos starting the season 4-0.

8: Indianapolis Colts

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    When: Week 7, Sun., Oct. 20 at 8:30 p.m. ET.

    Where: Lucas Oil Stadium  

    Network: NBC (Sunday Night Football)

    This is the game everybody is going to want to watch.  Peyton Manning returns to Indianapolis to face his successor, Andrew Luck.

    Is it October yet?

7: San Diego Chargers (Road)

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    When: Week 10, Sun., Nov. 10 at 1:25 p.m. PST.

    Where: Qualcomm Stadium 

    Network: CBS

    Everybody remembers the comeback, but the Chargers did build a 24-0 lead the last time the Broncos played in San Diego.  If they can build a lead again (and actually hold onto it), this game could turn out to be another thriller.

6: Kansas City Chiefs (Road)

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    When: Week 13, Sun., Dec. 1 at 12 p.m. CST.

    Where: Arrowhead Stadium 

    Network: CBS

    It may seem surprising to see this game ranked so high, but Denver is 17-24 all-time at Arrowhead, one of the toughest stadiums in the NFLThe Broncos were blowing teams away in the second half of last season; they barely squeaked by the Chiefs 17-9 on the road.

    That's just one touchdown and a two-point conversion.  And Brady Quinn was K.C.'s starting QB.

    This year, Alex Smith will be leading the Chiefs offense, making them a tougher challenge.

5: New York Giants

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    When: Week 2, Sun., Sept. 15 at 4:25 p.m. EDT.

    Where: MetLife Stadium    

    Network: CBS

    Somehow, this game was not scheduled in a prime-time slot.  At least we won't have to wait long to see it.

    With NBC scoring three Broncos games and NFL Network and ESPN also grabbing prime slots, CBS is no doubt excited about scoring the Manning Bowl.

    Surprised we not playing the Giants in prime time... No prime time Manning Bowl this yr.. Lol

    — Robert Ayers Jr (@1_900_ayersjr) April 19, 2013

    You're not alone, Robert.  We were also surprised but are still expecting an epic showdown.

4: Houston Texans

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    When: Week 16: Sun., Dec. 22 at 12 p.m. CST

    Where:  Reliant Stadium    

    Network: CBS

    This game figures to have huge playoff implications late in the season.  Two of the powerhouses in the AFC, the Broncos and Texans will face off in the next-to-final game of the regular season.

    Another game that arguably deserved a prime-time slot, this figures to be a classic.

3: Washington Redskins

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    When: Week 8, Sun., Oct. 27 at 2:25 p.m. MDT.

    Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High

    Network: FOX

    Similarly to CBS landing the Manning Bowl, FOX has to be excited about landing Mike Shanahan's return to Denver, a game that could have easily been given to a prime-time-airing network.  

    Shanahan will probably have a few tricks up his sleeve.  The question is: Will he have Robert Griffin III?

    Griffin was electrifying last season, but injuries rattled him in the playoffs.  If Griffin is healthy, this is a must-watch.  If Griffin is injured again, this game loses much of its appeal. 

2: Baltimore Ravens

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    When: Week 1, Thurs., Sept. 5 at 6:30 p.m. MDT

    Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High 

    Network: NBC (Thursday Night Football)

    The 2013 NFL season opener is against the defending Super Bowl champions—the same team that knocked them out of the playoffs in January and signed away one of their top defenders in Elvis Dumervil.

    Pressure much?

    This will either be one of the best games of the year or a complete blowout. For Broncos fans, those two options are considered one in the same.

1: New England Patriots

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    When: Week 12, Sun., Nov. 24 at 8:30 p.m. ET

    Where: Gillette Stadium    

    Network: NBC (Sunday Night Football)

    Two years ago, the New England Patriots defeated the Denver Broncos and Tim Tebow out of the playoffs.  Last year, they thumped Peyton Manning's Broncos early in the season.

    This offseason, Denver landed Wes Welker, Tom Brady's favorite target, in free agency.

    Meeting in Week 12, both the Broncos and Patriots will be operating on all cylinders by the time this game rolls around. It will be the 14th edition of Manning vs. Brady.

    The season cannot come soon enough!


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