The NFL released the official 2022 regular-season schedule to much fanfare on Thursday night. However, the leaks were like a colander and most of the details were known well before the big release on NFL Network.
After being passed over mostly in prime-time games last season, the Denver Broncos have become the NFL’s star attraction. Acquiring a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback will do that for a team and Russell Wilson brings star power.
The Broncos will have five prime-time games and with the flex schedule, possibly more. Without further ado:
There is a bit of history involved in Denver’s 2022 schedule. It’s as close to an exact replica of the 2010 campaign as it can get.
It can’t be replicated exactly since the NFL expanded the season to 17 games, but the Broncos play every team they faced off against in 2010 (except for the addition of the Carolina Panthers) and the team travels to Wembley Stadium again.
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Don’t worry, Broncos Country, this is a much different team than the one Josh McDaniels destroyed from the inside out and the results should be considerably different. Let’s dive into the schedule and break it all down.
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Week 1 at Seattle Seahawks (Monday Night Football)
The Broncos come out of the gate with a bang. The opener could not come with more fanfare. It could be billed as a revenge game for both Wilson and Drew Lock, but let’s face it, Wilson is better by light years and is a star in the NFL.
The talk will be squarely focused on Wilson and his return and there’s no guarantee Lock will even play. The hype leading up to the game will be more exciting than the actual game. With Wilson returning to Seattle with something to prove and the fact the Seahawks have entered rebuild mode, this has the makings of a Broncos rout.
Week 2: vs. Houston Texans
This is a great game to come home to after traveling to Seattle. This game should go the Broncos’ way and it is a good opportunity to get the team off to a 2-0 if they take care of business in Week 1. Not only is it at home, but the Texans are likely going to be the cellar-dwellers of the entire NFL.
As the newest team in the league, there is not a long history of the Broncos facing off against the Texans. The two teams have met eight times and the Broncos have gotten the better of them in five of those contests.
There is quite the history between the Broncos and Texans, though. Gary Kubiak’s first head-coaching gig was in Houston and he brought in several Broncos coaches, players, and personnel people. We all know his next head-coaching stint brought the Mile High City Super Bowl 50.
Week 3: vs. San Francisco 49ers (Sunday Night Football)
The old-timers would love to forget the 55-10 drubbing of the Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV at the hands of the Niners. Even with that historic lopsided victory, the Broncos vs. 49ers series is tied up at 7-7 all-time, and if Denver could come out of Week 3 leading the head to head matchup, the team would itself up with a nice little lead for the playoff run.
The Niners have swung between Super Bowl contenders and cellar-dwellers under the guidance of Kyle Shanahan. This is mostly due to quarterback play.
2022 is shaping up to be one of those seasons that the Niners take a step back. The incumbent, Jimmy Garoppolo, had offseason surgery and reports indicate that the heir apparent, Trey Lance, is not living up to expectations. This could be a victory for the Broncos, especially since it will be the second of back-to-back home games.
Week 4: at Las Vegas Raiders
No matter how many times the Raiders move, the rivalry vs. the Broncos stays the same. The hated opponent has the head-to-head lead all-time, unfortunately, but the Raiders built that lead back in the early days in the AFL.
The Broncos have been chipping away at it, but still trail 53-68-2. This Broncos team is much more formidable than what the Raiders have seen of late.
Wilson makes Denver a contender and should put an end to the season sweeps. However, this away game being wedged in between two home games doesn’t bode well for victory.
Week 5: vs. Indianapolis Colts (Thursday Night Football)
The history of Colts-Broncos has a lot of flavor — the most intense being the famous trade of John Elway to the Mile High City. The close runner-up is the release and subsequent signing of Peyton Manning, who led the Broncos to four straight division titles, two Super Bowl appearances, and one World Championship.
The two clubs have met 25 times and the Broncos have a slight edge in historical performance, winning 14 of those contests. The Colts will be a formidable opponent if newcomer Matt Ryan has any gas left in the tank. It is fortuitous that the Broncos get Indy at home.
Week 6: at Los Angeles Chargers (MNF)
Even in the Broncos’ slump the past five seasons, they seem to give the Chargers all they can handle, winning seven of the last 11 contests. The Chargers have loaded up to win it all this season behind their talented young quarterback Justin Herbert.
We have seen this before with the Chargers. They field wildly talented teams with elite quarterback play, only to fall short. In fact, the Chargers have had future Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks (Dan Fouts, Drew Brees, and Philip Rivers) under center for 34 years and have zero Super Bowl wins.
The Broncos just seem to have their number, with a record of 69-54-1 in the head-to-head competition. As we have all seen, the Broncos traveling to visit the Chargers lately sounds like a home game.
Week 7: New York Jets
The Broncos have often taken out their frustrations on the Jets over the past four seasons. They have won three of the last four by a combined score of 86-28, with two shutouts. It has been a very weak consolation prize in the past five losing seasons.
The Broncos own the 38-game series with a record of 21-16-1. The Jets are definitely improving under the guidance of head coach Robert Saleh, but they may still be a season away from contention. The Broncos should be able to take care of business at home.
Week 8: at Jacksonville Jaguars (in London)
The Broncos are traveling to London for this contest and having a home game prior is helpful. It has been more than a decade since they have played a regular-season game in London.
Traveling that distance can render any team vulnerable and for as bad as the Jaguars have been over the past decade, they have played well against the Broncos. The head-to-head series is tied up at 6-6. However, the Broncos took care of business, with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback last year against the Jaguars with a sound drubbing in Jacksonville. It’s safe to say that Wilson will be able to do the same in this matchup.
Week 9: Bye
Week 10: at Tennessee Titans
The Broncos have a long history versus the Titans. They faced off many times in the AFL when the Titans were known as the Houston Oilers and like the Raiders and Chiefs, the Oilers beat up on the Broncos winning 14 of the 19 contests.
After the merger, the Broncos have not been that same pushover and have beaten the Titans in five of the last eight contests and even in the losses, the score differential has been three points or less. This is going to likely be a battle of two contending teams.
Week 11: Las Vegas Raiders
This will be a must-win for the Broncos to stay in the division title race if they lose the Week 4 game in Las Vegas. Josh McDaniels returns to the Mile High City, this time as head coach of the Raiders.
Week 12: at Carolina Panthers
The Broncos have had little problem dispatching the Panthers since they own the head-to-head matchup at 5-1. The Panthers were also the victim in Super Bowl 50 and that legendary Broncos defense.
Anything can happen as the visiting team, but this matchup is favorable for the Broncos since the Panthers have not been able to bounce back from four straight losing seasons and have questions at quarterback.
Week 13: at Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens-Broncos match-ups have always been interesting. Back in the early 2000s, the Ravens were the only team that could consistently shut down the Broncos’ vaunted rushing attack.
This is obviously a different era and even though the Broncos will be going back to the zone blocking scheme that made that rushing attack so potent, the Ravens are no longer a defensive-first team. The Ravens hold a 6-7 advantage in head-to-head competition and the Broncos could even up the series with a victory in Baltimore. However, back-to-back away games, with the second being a formidable opponent, does not bode well for the Broncos.
Week 14: vs. Kansas City Chiefs (SNF)
Not traveling to Kansas City in December is a huge boost to the Broncos’ chances in this contest. The Chiefs are notoriously tough to beat at home in the last month of the year.
This is a rivalry that dates back to the very beginning of both franchises. They faced off back in the American Football League days and the Chiefs owned that rivalry back then. Kansas City went 19-1 against the Broncos, building a big lead in the head-to-head record.
The Broncos had chipped away at that lead and were two games away from tying it up, until they lost 13 games in a row over this miserable stretch post-Super Bowl 50. With that said, the Broncos are due for a win.
Denver had it in the bag last season, until Melvin Gordon’s untimely fumble. At home, the Broncos hope to win this contest and get the monkey off their back.
Week 15: vs. Arizona Cardinals
The Broncos have had their way with the Cardinals, winning nine of the 11 games they’ve played in their history. The last meeting was in 2018 when Von Miller guaranteed that the Broncos were going to beat them badly. The Broncos did just that, winning 45-10.
However, this Cardinals team is not the patsy of the recent past. The one question mark is how much the contract dispute between the front office and quarterback Kyler Murray will impact the performance of the Cardinals. Back-to-back home games will benefit the Broncos.
Week 16: at Los Angeles Rams (Christmas)
Visiting the Super Bowl champions on Christmas Day and coming away with a victory will be no easy task. Not only are the Rams a very good team, but they are also one of the few NFC teams that post a winning head-to-head match-up record vs. the Broncos.
The Broncos have struggled against the Rams and have dropped four straight dating back to their days in St. Louis. This will be a good measuring stick late in the season to see just how far the Broncos can go in 2022.
Week 17: at Kansas City Chiefs
Just when we thought the Broncos caught a break not traveling to Kansas City late in the season, the NFL schedule makers did the team a little dirty. Not only will this game only be three weeks removed from the first meeting between the two teams, the league lined up back-to-back division games to end the season for Denver.
It’s always tough to visit the Chiefs in the winter and the last two games of the season are likely to hold high importance.
Week 18: vs. Los Angeles Chargers
This seemed like more likely a contest versus the Chiefs for the division title. Instead, the Chargers coming to the Mile High City to finish out the season after visiting the Chiefs will be tough back-to-back games.
The last two games will likely be for all the marbles in the division.
The Broncos don’t have an easy schedule, but it is manageable. With Wilson at the helm, this team could win 11 games and make some noise in the playoffs.
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