DENVER — Did the Broncos get a good schedule?
Well, define good.
If good means big-name opponents who move the TV ratings needle ... yes.
If good means a bye week positioned smack in the middle of the season ... yes.
If good means easy ... absolutely, positively, definitely not.
Blame the travel — and Patrick Mahomes.
The Broncos make five trips to the East Coast: at Pittsburgh, New York, New England, Atlanta and Carolina.
Their 18,000 travel miles are the 11th-most in the NFL. Some Broncos coaches would leave on Fridays for Sunday games on the East Coast; that’s likely out of the question in a season that will be played during a pandemic.
Then there’s Mahomes, the superhero quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs. You get him twice. Nobody wants Patrick Mahomes twice. That’s doubly true when the Chiefs own the Broncos. Kansas City’s won nine straight against Denver. Oof.
Based on opponents’ winning percentage from last season, the Broncos own the 12th most-difficult schedule in the NFL. Based on popular quarterbacks, they’re right around No. 1.
Ben Roethlisberger (Week 2), Tom Brady (Week 3), Cam Newton (Week 5), Mahomes (Week 7).
And that’s all before the bye in Week 8. With no preseason games this season, Vic Fangio’s defense figures to be tested from the jump.
“Our practices are structured very similarly to the way we did it last year,” Fangio said.
It’s worth noting the NFL stacked AFC West games on the back end of Denver’s schedule. Only one division game occurs before Week 10 — Week 7 vs. the Chiefs at Empower Field at Mile High.
The Week 9 game against the Atlanta Falcons originally was pegged for London. The COVID-19 pandemic postponed the trip, though the Broncos are hopeful they’ll be London-bound in 2021.
The highlight of the schedule figures to be Tom Brady’s return to Mile High — this time in a Tampa Bay Bucs uniform. Brady and ol’ buddy Rob Gronkowski return to the scene in Week 3.
The 61st season of Broncos football — and the first that’s been played during a pandemic — starts Sept. 14 against the Titans on “Monday Night Football.”