COMMENTARY | We've known the "who" and the "where" for a while now.
And with the National Football's ballyhooed event televised on two different networks earlier Thursday evening, we now know the "when" as they pertain to the Denver Broncos' 2013 regular-season schedule.
We still have to wait some 4 months and change before things kick off for real Sept. 5, but we can start breaking the whole Orange and Blue itinerary down right now, complete with some (very) early final score forecasts …
Thursday, Sept. 5 vs. Baltimore Ravens
Let's see: The first game of the 2013 NFL season ... Home opener ... Defending Super Bowl champs coming to town … Broncos itching to atone for a crushing, 38-35 overtime playoff defeat … Elvis Dumervil starting a new season at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, only this time wearing purple and black. I'd say this is going to be a date worth that 4-month-and-change wait.
(Very) early prediction: It won't quite make up for a playoff loss, but … Broncos, 34-17
Sunday, Sept. 15 at N.Y. Giants
It's Manning Bowl III and what the Peyton and the Broncos hope will be the first of two trips to the New Meadowlands next season with the Super Bowl set to be contested there in February.
(Very) early prediction: Eli gets the best of big brother for the first time in the NFL … Giants, 31-28.
Monday, Sept. 23 vs. Oakland Raiders
The Broncos' lone Monday Night Football appearance comes against the hated Silver & Black.
(Very) early prediction: Like the 2012 game in Denver, this is no contest … Broncos, 37-10.
Sunday, Sept. 29 vs. Philadelphia Eagles
For the third time in their past four meetings, the Broncos and Eagles will square off in Denver.
(Very) early prediction: Under new coach Chip Kelly, Philly could surprise after a 4-12 disaster a year ago, but winning at Peyton's place is simply asking too much … Broncos, 30-22.
Sunday, Oct. 6 at Dallas Cowboys
This one was rumored to be slated for Thanksgiving, but Orange and Blue Crew will have to settle for an early-October visit to Jerry World.
(Very) early prediction: It's close, but Denver downs Dallas for the fifth straight time … Broncos, 24-21.
Sunday, Oct. 13 vs, Jacksonville Jaguars
Broncos' defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio faces the franchise he coached for eight-plus seasons.
(Very) early prediction: The Broncos bully the down-and-out Jags, who haven't had a winning season since 2007 … Broncos, 40-13.
Sunday, Oct. 20 at Indianapolis Colts
The Broncos visit Indy, but this time Peyton has a horse instead of a horseshoe on his helmet in what should be an electric Sunday night contest against Andrew Luck and Co.
(Very) early prediction: The Colts make a game of it, but Manning will simply be too geared up for this one and makes it a happy homecoming … Broncos, 30-24.
Sunday, Oct. 27 vs. Washington Redskins
Mike Shanahan returns to the Mile High City and will be bringing along a fella by the name of RGIII.
(Very) early prediction: It's not a happy homecoming for Shanny as Denver hits the midway point with a 7-1 record … Broncos, 27-20.
Sunday, Nov. 3 Bye
You never want to rest on a roll, but the bye week falls at an ideal time for Denver.
Sunday, Nov. 10 at San Diego Chargers
Former Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy gets a shot at his former team.
(Very) early prediction: The Bolts, a team in transition, prove no match for the … Broncos, 30-20.
Sunday, Nov. 17 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
With a new coach (Andy Reid) and QB (Alex Smith), K.C. figures to be one of the league's most improved teams.
(Very) early prediction: Still, that improvement isn't enough to prevent Denver from running its win streak to eight … Broncos, 24-13.
Sunday, Nov. 24 at New England Patriots
Sunday night stage … Manning vs. Brady … Wes Welker returns to Foxborough … AFC playoff seeding implications … this has all the ingredients of must-see NFL TV.
(Very) early prediction: Denver suffers its first setback in more than 2 months with its fourth consecutive loss in New England … Patriots, 30-27.
Sunday, Dec. 1 at Kansas City Chiefs
Broncos try to rebound as they face the Chiefs for the second time in three weeks.
(Very) early prediction: Bad news, Bronco fans, the calendar has flipped, and Denver falls to 2-18 all-time in K.C. in the month of December … Chiefs, 24-22.
Sunday, Dec. 8 vs. Tennessee Titans
The suddenly-reeling Broncos host Chris Johnson and Co. in only their second home date since before Halloween.
(Very) early prediction: It's good to be home … Broncos, 45-17.
Thursday, Dec. 12 vs. San Diego Chargers
It's Denver's allotted fifth prime-time appearance of the season, and it's also the team's home finale.
(Very) early prediction: Denver brooms the Bolts for the second straight season, finishes 8-0 at home and wraps up a third straight AFC West title in the process … Broncos, 36-21.
Sunday, Dec. 22 at Houston Texans
Get ready for a late-season AFC showdown in Houston, where Manning is 7-2 all-time against the Texans.
(Very) early prediction: Make it 7-3 as Houston needs the game a little more … Texans, 27-23.
Sunday, Dec. 29 at Oakland Raiders
The Broncos finish the regular season on the road for only the second time in the past eight seasons.
(Very) early prediction: The Raiders will have long been out of postseason contention, missing the playoffs for the 11th straight season, and Denver takes full advantage to finish 12-4 and earn the second seed in the AFC … Broncos, 31-16.
Ken Pomponio has spent the past 25 years as a sports journalist who has been published extensively in print and online. He's been an avid follower of the Denver Broncos and the NFL since early childhood, and can be found on Twitter @kenpomp.
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