We already knew the Denver Broncos' 2012 schedule looked brutal on paper. We also know that "on paper" doesn't mean much in the NFL.
Starting out at home
The schedule makers seemed to recognize the Broncos' tough slate and made up for it with three of their first four games at home. That's the good news. The bad news is that those four matchups don't feature any team with a losing record from a year ago: Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Houston and Oakland.
Living in prime time
Denver will play on Thursday, Sunday and Monday night. It will play in prime time five times overall, which is the maximum for this original schedule release.
Division schedule is backloaded
The Broncos will have to survive against their brutal non-division schedule before worrying too much about the AFC West. Only one of their first five games and two of their first nine games are against division foes.
Six playoff opponents in the first eight games
Every out-of-division game in the first half of the season features a 2011 playoff team. It doesn't get much tougher than that. On paper.
Manning versus Brady comes early
The short term: Survive the initial gauntlet of games at 3-3 or better. It won't be easy.