DENVER -- The Broncos' tall order of snapping a five-year playoff drought begins with a Giant task.
With coach Vic Fangio needing a fast start in his third season, Denver opens against the New York Giants at 2:25 p.m. at Met Life Stadium on Sept 12. The Broncos have not enjoyed much success there, trounced in Super Bowl 48 and falling to the Jets in a forgettable effort in 2018.
Excuses, however, will prove hollow for Fangio this season as Broncos Country seeks a return to relevance.
Fangio is winless in September, going 0-7, a banana peel spine crunch of a tumble that explains why Denver has never been above .500 under his watch. The Broncos' spiral since Super Bowl 50 comes with consequences.
Denver will not appear on Monday Night Football this season for the first time in 29 years, ending a record streak. The Broncos own a 32-42-1 all-time record on Monday Night Football, including a 24-13-1 mark at home. The Packers can match the Broncos' record if they appear on MNF this season.
This schedule, however, offers a road to redemption for the Broncos. Nine teams on Denver's schedule failed to reach the playoffs last season. I haven't seen this many cupcakes since watching the reality show about Carlo's Bakery. The problem is the Broncos' opponents see them as a pastry as well.
The Broncos' first three games come against non-contenders: the Giants, Jaguars and Jets. The Broncos will travel to Jacksonville in Week 2, squaring off with No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence and new coach Urban Meyer. This marks the first time since 2003 that Broncos have opened with back-to-back road games.
Denver welcomes the Jets on Sept. 26. The Jets have not reached the playoffs since 2010. This stretch represents three winnable games for a Broncos team that is not built to survive another September slide.
The Broncos are 6-6 vs the Giants all-time, but have won only twice on the road. The Broncos went 5-11 last season, while the Giants posted a 6-10 record. Both teams feature questions at quarterback. Will Teddy Bridgewater, Drew Lock or Aaron Rodgers lead Denver? And is this the year Daniel Jones shows the Giants he is a franchise player?
Highlights of the schedule include facing Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger on the road in possibly his last season, promising quarterback Joe Burrow's arrival in Denver, record-setting rookie Justin Herbert and former Broncos standout Derek Wolfe on Oct. 3 as he now helps anchor the Ravens' defensive line. Denver also has a favorable bye in Week 11.
The one prime time game is Thursday night Oct. 21 at the Browns.
The Broncos host NFC East division champion Washington on Oct. 31. This is the type of game the Broncos must win if they want to snap the league's third longest active playoff drought. Washington features issues at quarterback, but is crossing its fingers that Ryan Fitzpatrick can provide magic. He nearly rallied Miami to a win last season in Denver. Washington boasts a gnarly defense, led by second-year pass rushing terror Chase Young.
The Broncos finished in last place in the AFC West a year ago. As such, improvement starts in their division.
The Broncos host the Raiders on Oct. 17 at 2:25 p.m. and face the Raiders in Sin City on Dec. 26. The Raiders swept the Broncos last season. As a nice change of pace, the Broncos finish with someone other than the Raiders, facing the Chiefs in the finale. Denver owns an 11-game losing streak against the Chiefs, tying their longest skid against Kansas City posted from 1964-1969.
BRONCOS 2021 SCHEDULE (All listed Mountain Times)
Week 1: Sept 12 at Giants, 2:25 p.m., FOX
Week 2: Sept. 19 at Jaguars, 11 a.m., CBS
Week 3: Sept. 26 vs. Jets, 2:05 p.m., CBS
Week 4: Oct. 3 vs. Ravens, 2:25 p.m., CBS
Week 5: Oct. 10 at Steelers, 11 a.m., FOX
Week 6: Oct. 17 vs. Raiders, 2:25 p.m., CBS
Week 7: Oct. 21 at Browns, 6:20 p.m., NFL Network/FOX/Amazon
Week 8: Oct. 31 vs. Washington, 2:25 p.m., FOX
Week 9: Nov. 7 at Cowboys, 11 a.m., FOX
Week 10: Nov. 14 vs. Eagles, 2:25 p.m., CBS
Week 11: Nov. 21 BYE
Week 12: Nov. 28 vs. Chargers, 2:05 p.m., CBS
Week 13: Dec. 5 at Chiefs, 11 a.m., CBS
Week 14: Dec. 12 vs. Lions, 2:05 p.m., FOX
Week 15: Dec. 19 vs. Bengals, 2:05 p.m., CBS
Week 16: Dec. 26 at Raiders, 2:25 p.m., CBS
Week 17: Jan. 2 at Chargers, 2:05 p.m., CBS
Week 18: Jan. 9 vs. Chiefs, 2:25 p.m., CBS
BRONCOS PRESEASON SCHEDULE
At Vikings Aug. 13 or 14
At Seahawks Aug. 20-23
Vs. Rams, Aug. 28, 7:05 p.m.