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Denver Broncos quarterback Kendall Hinton runs into an empty stadium before his first NFL start against the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 29, 2020, at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver. Hinton, who was on the practice squad, was activated because the Broncos' three quarterbacks were ineligible because of COVID-19. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

The NFL 2021 schedule is here and for the first time in 29 years — the longest active streak in the NFL — the Broncos may not be playing on "Monday Night Football."

Denver is slated to play only one prime-time game in 2021 when it visits the Cleveland Browns in Week 7 on Thursday, Oct. 21. As for the rest of the Broncos’ schedule, which was released Wednesday along with the entire NFL schedule, almost all their games are set to be played Sunday afternoons.

The main reason behind this is because the Broncos haven't had a winning season in four years, which is partially why Denver’s schedule is as easy as it is. The opponents’ combined record is 127-143-2 and their average winning percentage is .471, which is tied for 27th worst in the league compared to other teams’ schedules. Of those 17 games, only five teams made the playoffs in 2020.

Of course, the Broncos could be flexed into Sunday or Monday night games if they’re competing for a playoff spot in the back half of the season or, say, they trade for Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Flexible scheduling will be used between Weeks 11-18, with flexible scheduling being allowed twice in Weeks 5-10. There is also the possibility the Broncos play Saturday, as there will be two Saturday games in Week 18.

Some of the highlights of Denver’s 2021 schedule include a relatively easy three-game stretch to begin, traveling to face the Giants and Jaguars and Weeks 1 and 2 and then coming home to face the Jets in Week 3. Those three teams combined to go 9-39 last season. This will provide coach Vic Fangio a good opportunity to get his first win in September, after going 0-7 in the month the last two seasons.

The Broncos also won’t have to face the Kansas City Chiefs — one of the favorites to return to the Super Bowl — until Dec. 5. But they will have a couple of tough non-divisional road trips before then, going to Cleveland on Oct. 21 and Dallas on Nov. 7. And just like they start the season, the Broncos will end the season playing two of their last three games on the road. They'll also play three preseason games, at the Vikings, at the Seahawks and home against the Rams. 

Here’s a look at the Broncos’ schedule:

Week 1: at New York Giants

Date: Sunday, Sept. 12

Time: 2:25 p.m.

Channel: Fox

Analysis: The Giants own a 7-6 all-time record against the Broncos, with their last matchup coming in 2017 when Denver lost at home, 23-10. The Giants are coming off a 6-10 season missing the playoffs.

Week 2: at Jacksonville Jaguars

Date: Sunday, Sept. 19

Time: 11 a.m.

Channel: CBS

Analysis: Denver is 5-6 all time against Jacksonville, losing the last matchup, 26-24, in 2019. The Jaguars are coming off a 1-15 season and missing the playoffs.

Week 3: vs. New York Jets

Date: Sunday, Sept. 26

Time: 2:05 p.m.

Channel: CBS

Analysis: The Broncos hold a 20-16 all-time record against the Jets. The two teams met last year with the Broncos winning 37-28. The Jets are coming off a 2-14 season and missing the playoffs.

Week 4: vs. Baltimore Ravens

Date: Sunday, Oct. 3

Time: 2:25 p.m.

Channel: CBS

Analysis: The Broncos are 6-8 all time against the Ravens, last facing them in 2018, which resulted in a 27-14 loss. The Ravens are coming off an 11-5 season, losing to the Bills in the AFC divisional round.

Week 5: at Pittsburgh Steelers

Date: Sunday, Oct. 10

Time: 11 a.m.

Channel: Fox

Analysis: The Broncos and Steelers have met 33 times, with the Broncos leading the series 20-12-1. They also met last year in Pittsburgh, with the Steelers winning 26-21. The Steelers are coming off a 12-4 season, losing to the Browns in the AFC wild card.

Week 6: vs. Las Vegas Raiders

Date: Sunday, Oct. 17

Time: 2:25 p.m.

Channel: CBS

Analysis: The Broncos have only beaten the Raiders twice in their last five meetings, losing both games last year. The Raiders lead the all-time series 67-54-2 and are coming off an 8-8 season and missing the playoffs.

Week 7: at Cleveland Browns

Date: Thursday, Oct. 21

Time: 6:20 p.m.

Channel: Fox, NFL Network, Amazon Prime

Analysis: The Broncos and Browns have met 30 times, with the Broncos holding a 24-6 record. They last met in 2019, with the Broncos winning 24-19. The Browns are coming off an 11-5 season, losing to the Chiefs in the AFC divisional round.

Week 8: vs. Washington Football Team

Date: Sunday, Oct. 31

Time: 2:25 p.m.

Channel: Fox

Analysis: Washington and Denver have played 14 times, with the series tied 7-7. The Broncos lost their last matchup, 27-11, in 2017. Washington is coming off a 7-9 season, losing to the Buccaneers in the NFC wild card.

Week 9: at Dallas Cowboys

Date: Sunday, Nov. 7

Time: 11 a.m.

Channel: Fox

Analysis: The Broncos have played the Cowboys only 13 times in franchise history, with Denver leading the series 8-5. They last met in 2017, with the Broncos winning 42-17. The Cowboys are coming off a 6-10 season and missing the playoffs.

Week 10: vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Date: Sunday, Nov. 14

Time: 2:25 p.m.

Channel: CBS

Analysis: Like the Cowboys, the Eagles and Broncos have only played 13 times, but Philadelphia leads the series 8-5. They also played in 2017, with the Eagles winning 51-23. The Eagles are coming off a 4-11-1 season and missing the playoffs.

Week 11: BYE

Date: Sunday, Nov. 21

Week 12: vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Date: Sunday, Nov. 28

Time: 2:05 p.m.

Channel: CBS

Analysis: The Broncos lead the series 69-53-1, splitting their two games last year with the Chargers. The Chargers are coming off a 7-9 season and missing the playoffs.

Week 13: at Kansas City Chiefs

Date: Sunday, Dec. 5

Time: 11 a.m.

Channel: CBS

Analysis: The Broncos haven’t beaten the Chiefs since 2015, losing their last 11 games against their division rival. The Chiefs lead the series 67-55 and are coming off a 14-2 season, losing to the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl.

Week 14: vs. Detroit Lions

Date: Sunday, Dec. 12

Time: 2:05 p.m.

Channel: Fox

Analysis: The Lions are the added 17th game for the Broncos, having only played Denver 13 times. The Broncos lead the series 8-5, with the two teams playing last in 2019 as the Broncos won 27-17. The Lions are coming off a 5-11 season and missing the playoffs.

Week 15: vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Date: Sunday, Dec. 19

Time: 2:05 p.m.

Channel: CBS

Analysis: The Broncos hold a 22-10 series lead over the Bengals, meeting last in 2018, which resulted in a 24-10 win for the Broncos. The Bengals are coming off a 4-11-1 season and missing the playoffs.

Week 16: at Las Vegas Raiders

Date: Sunday, Dec. 26

Time: 2:25 p.m.

Channel: CBS

Analysis: The Broncos will finish the season with three divisional games, starting with the Raiders the day after Christmas. If Denver hopes to make the playoffs, starting with a win in Las Vegas down the final stretch will surely help its cause.

Week 17: at Los Angeles Chargers

Date: Sunday, Jan. 2

Time: 2:05 p.m.

Channel: CBS

Analysis: The Broncos likely can’t split games with the Chargers again if they want to make the playoffs. Denver will likely be fighting Los Angeles and Las Vegas for second in the AFC West, which might land them in the playoffs for the first time in five seasons.

Week 18: vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Date: Sunday, Jan. 9

Time: 2:25 p.m.

Channel: CBS

Analysis: The Chiefs are the clear favorites to win the AFC West for a sixth-straight season and are again Super Bowl contenders. This may mean they rest their starters come Week 18, which can hand the Broncos their first win over Kansas City in six years.

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