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John Elway: Broncos must 'come out of the chute fast'

The Denver Broncos open in prime time for the fourth consecutive season, but it comes at a cost.

John Elway's club faces a tough slate of games in September, with three matchups (vs. Colts, vs. Chiefs, at Seahawks) against teams that made the playoffs in 2013.

"When you first look at it, it really means we're going to have to come out of the chute fast," Elway acknowledged Wednesday night on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access: Schedule Release '14."

"... We have three playoff teams and with Kansas City in the second week -- a divisional game that is so important -- then going up to visit the Seahawks, the defending world champs."

If there's a silver lining to Denver's stiff test early in the season, it's that five of the first seven games are played in the thin air of Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

"I think the way that you look at schedules, the bottom line is we've got to win those games at home," Elway explained. "With five out of the first eight at home, we've got to start fast."

On Wednesday's schedule release edition of the "Around The League Podcast," we debated whether an older team like the Broncos would be better served by having its bye week fall later in the season.

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Elway agreed with Dan Hanzus that Week 4 is not ideal.

"That bye week is a little bit earlier than we'd like it," Elway said. "But it falls where they fall. And so hopefully we can get through that, those first three, and then have some success there and then get rested in the fourth week."

For all of Elway's concerns, though, he can rest assured that the schedule softens considerably in November and December.

With a current roster even stronger than the one that was clearly the class of the conference last season, the Broncos remain a strong bet to represent the AFC West in the playoffs.

The "Around The League Podcast" NFL Schedule Extravaganza will change the way you look at everything.

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