Broncos projected to have 5th easiest schedule in 2021, will play Detroit for 17th game

Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) huddles with teammates in the second quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Empower Field at Mile High.
Dec 29, 2019; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) huddles with teammates in the second quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, the NFL owners voted for the league to start its new 17-game schedule format this season.

The 17th game will be played against the team from the opposing conference that finished in the same spot in their conference standings. The conference hosting the game will flip each season, with the AFC hosting in 2021 and the NFC in 2022.

As a result, the Broncos will now play the Detroit Lions in Denver this season for their 17th game.

Now with those 17 games finalized, we can look at the Broncos’ opponents and they’ll have a much easier scheudle than they’ve had in years past.

They’re currently projected to have the fifth-easiest schedule based on 2020 win-loss records. Their 2021 opponents had a combined record of 128-144 (.471), tying Denver with the Miami Dolphins in terms of ease of schedule.

Only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, and Philadelphia Eagles are projected to have easier schedules next season.

That also means the Broncos have the best schedule in their division. The Raiders have the worst one in the division, as their 2021 opponents had a record of 142-128-2 (.526), good for the eighth-most difficult schedule in the entire league. Las Vegas is then followed by Kansas City, with the 11th-most difficult schedule in the NFL and a combined opponent record of 138-132-2 (.511). The third-easiest schedule in the division belongs to the Chargers, who rank 17th overall with a combined opponent record of 133-137-2 (.493).

The ease of Denver’s schedule has a lot to do with them being able to play the NFC East, as well as their one-off games against Detroit, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Jets.

Though Denver isn’t without marquee games. All six in-division games should be highly competitive, as will their matchups with the Ravens, Browns and Steelers. Denver will have to win a few of those hotly-contested battles to weasel into the playoffs.

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