Broncos to open against Bengals
The Broncos will open their 50th season under new coach Josh McDaniels on Sunday, Sept. 13, against the Bengals at Cincinnati, the league announced Tuesday.
It’s the eighth time in their history the Broncos will start the season against the Bengals.
It’s also the fifth consecutive year the Broncos will start the season on the road. The main reason they haven’t started at home is because of scheduling conflicts with CBS, which broadcasts games when the road team is from the AFC.
CBS broadcasts the U.S. Open men’s singles final on the first Sunday of the NFL season and does not have a 2 p.m. MDT broadcast window for the NFL. That means for the Broncos to open at home on a Sunday, their opponent would have to be an NFC team so the game could be broadcast by Fox.
Because the Broncos previously were announced to play the New York Giants on Thanksgiving night at Invesco Field at Mile High, the only option would be for the Dallas Cowboys to play Week 1 at Denver.
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Instead, the Cowboys will play in Denver on Oct. 4.
The Broncos will have their home opener the next week, Sept. 20 against the Cleveland Browns.
The Broncos are 31-17-1 in Week 1 in their history, but only 8-11 on the road. They have won their past two Week 1 games on the road, at Oakland and at Buffalo.
It will be the first meeting between the Broncos and Bengals since the Broncos won 24-23 on Christmas Eve 2006 when Cincinnati missed a PAT in the final minute that would have tied the score.
The Broncos haven’t played in Cincinnati since 2004, when they lost 23-10. Overall, the Broncos lead the series 16-8, including 5-6 in Ohio.
The Broncos and Bengals have met in Week 1 seven previous times, with the Broncos having gone 5-2, but 1-2 in Cincinnati.
In 2003, the Broncos won 30-10 in Cincinnati. In 1991, they won 45-14 at home. In 1984, the Broncos won 20-17 at home. In 1979, the Broncos won 10-0 at home. In 1976, the Bengals won 17-7 in Cincinnati. In 1973, the Broncos won 28-10 at home. And in 1968, the Bengals won 24-10 in Cincinnati.
The Broncos have the 19th-toughest schedule based on teams’ 2008 records. The Broncos opponents this year went 122-132-2 (.480) last season.
And there will be some intriguing matchups.
Besides the three AFC West opponents (San Diego, Oakland and Kansas City), the reigning Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers will visit Denver on Nov. 9 for a Monday Night Football matchup.
The two games against the Chiefs (at Kansas City on Dec. 6, in Denver on Jan. 3) will match McDaniels on one sideline against Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassell, who was groomed under McDaniels last season in New England. McDaniels tried to trade for Cassell in late February only to miss out, and it led to a falling out with quarterback Jay Cutler, who eventually was traded to the Chicago Bears.
On Oct. 11, three-time Super Bowl champion New England plays at Invesco Field. It will match McDaniels, who was the Patriots’ offensive coordinator the past three seasons before coming to the Broncos, against his mentor, New England coach Bill Belichick.
The Thanksgiving night game Nov. 26 against the Giants at Invesco Field will be the Broncos’ first Thanksgiving game since 2006, when they lost at Kansas City, and first at home since 1963. The Broncos are 3-7 all time on Thanksgiving, 0-2 at home.
And the Broncos’ streak of appearing on Monday Night Football will reach its 18th year, the longest active streak in the league. They will play at San Diego on Oct. 19 and host the Steelers on Nov. 9.
There are no Sunday night games scheduled for the Broncos, though that could change later in the season under NBC’s flex scheduling.
The Broncos are entering their first season with McDaniels. He was hired in January after Mike Shanahan was fired after 14 seasons and two Super Bowl championships.
But the Broncos have missed the playoffs each of the past three seasons and have one playoff win since winning Super Bowl XXXIII in January 1999.