Denver Broncos have smaller prime-time spotlight in 2018 schedule

The Broncos are counting on Case Keenum to play like he did last season and get them back to the playoffs. Steve Flynn/USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has released its 2018 regular-season schedule. Here's a look at what's in store for the Denver Broncos.

Breakdown: If results from 2017 mean much, the Broncos will get a chance to get off to a quality start if Case Keenum proves to be the answer at quarterback. From the start of the season until their Week 10 bye, the Broncos have just three games against teams that made the playoffs last season and all three of those games are in October -- Oct. 1 and Oct. 28 against the Kansas City Chiefs to go with Oct. 14 against the Los Angeles Rams. Four of their six games following that bye are on the road and last season the Broncos were dismal away from Denver with a 1-7 mark.

No longer ready for prime time: After a steady diet of nationally televised games and prime-time matchups during Peyton Manning's tenure at quarterback and even the two seasons that followed the Super Bowl 50 win, the Broncos will work the day shift plenty in 2018. They have four games scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Mountain time. As it stands, unless they are flexed late in the season or their Saturday game (Dec. 15) gets the 6:20 p.m. Mountain time start instead of the afternoon slot, they have just three prime-time games -- Oct. 1 against the Chiefs, Oct. 18 against the Arizona Cardinals and Dec. 24 against the Oakland Raiders.

Better late than early: The Broncos hope a later bye week works out far better than the early bye did this past season. In 2017, the Broncos rolled into their Week 4 bye at 3-1, having just dominated the Dallas Cowboys in a 42-17 victory in Denver. They got their coveted rest and returned only to lose their next eight games and didn't win again until a Dec. 10 victory over the New York Jets. This time around, the Broncos get an extended weekend after their Thursday night game in October and then don't get their bye until Week 10. Four of their last seven games, following the bye, are on the road.

Strength of schedule: T-25th, .477

Broncos Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

  • Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, Seattle, 4:25 p.m.

  • Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, Oakland, 4:25 p.m.

  • Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

  • Week 4: Monday, Oct. 1, Kansas City, 8:15 p.m.

  • Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, at N.Y. Jets, 1 p.m.

  • Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m.

  • Week 7: Thursday, Oct. 18, at Arizona, 8:20 p.m.

  • Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.

  • Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, Houston, 4:05 p.m.

  • Week 10: BYE

  • Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m.

  • Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, Pittsburgh, 4:25 p.m.

  • Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

  • Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m.

  • Week 15: Saturday, Dec. 15, Cleveland, 4:30 p.m.

  • Week 16: Monday, Dec. 24, at Oakland, 8:15 p.m.

  • Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m.