Broncos schedule 2023: Dates & times for all 17 games, strength of schedule, final record prediction
The Broncos pulled off one of the biggest trades of the 2022 offseason when they acquired quarterback Russell Wilson from the Seahawks. That was expected to answer the team's longstanding dilemma at the sport's most important position.
Instead, Wilson's first season in Denver proved to be a disaster. The Broncos sported the worst scoring offense in the NFL at 16.9 points per game. First-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett looked lost on the sideline when it came to clock management and offensive scheming, and he was fired before his first season even ended.
By the end of the year, the Broncos were 5-12 and without their own first-round pick because of the trade to acquire Wilson. As such, they needed to retool around him quickly in the hopes of salvaging their $242.6 million man.
Denver did that by coaxing Sean Payton out of retirement and sending the 29th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft — acquired in the Bradley Chubb trade — to New Orleans to facilitate it. The hope is that Payton and a plethora of reinforcements in the trenches, highlighted by free agent acquisitions Ben Powers and Mike McGlinchey, can fix the offensive woes that plagued the Broncos in 2022.
The good news is that the Broncos have a defense that is ready to win now, and with an upgraded offense should have a chance to have Denver in the running for a playoff spot.
So what's the bad news? Well, Denver's schedule isn't exactly favorable, so that could handcuff the team as it looks to battle for a wild card spot in the loaded AFC.
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Here is a complete breakdown of the Broncos’ 2023 schedule, including dates, start times and analysis for all 17 games.
Denver Broncos schedule 2023
Below is a look at the Broncos' full schedule for the 2023 NFL season:
|Week||Date||Opponent||Kickoff time (ET)||TV|
|1||Sept. 10||vs. Raiders||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|2||Sept. 17||vs. Commanders||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|3||Sept. 24||at Dolphins||1 p.m.||CBS|
|4||Oct. 1||at Bears||1 p.m.||CBS|
|5||Oct. 8||vs. Jets||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|6||Oct. 12||at Chiefs (TNF)||8:15 p.m.||Amazon Prime|
|7||Oct. 22||vs. Packers||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|8||Oct. 29||vs. Chiefs||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|10||Nov. 13||at Bills||8:15 p.m.||ESPN|
|11||Nov. 19||vs. Vikings||8:20 p.m.||NBC|
|12||Nov. 26||vs. Browns||4:05 p.m.||Fox|
|13||Dec. 3||at Texans||4:05 p.m.||CBS|
|14||Dec. 10||at Chargers||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|15||Dec. 16/17||at Lions||TBD||TBD|
|16||Dec. 24||vs. Patriots||8:15 p.m.||NFLN|
|17||Dec. 31||vs. Chargers||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|18||Jan. 6/7||at Raiders||TBD||TBD|
Denver will play in the AFC West, which didn't quite live up to its toughest-in-the-league reputation last season, but still possesses two teams that made the 2023 NFL playoffs — the Chiefs and Chargers. The Broncos will also play teams from the AFC East and NFC North in addition to their last-place schedule.
The Broncos will play seven games against teams that made the playoffs last season. That will include two games each against the Chiefs and Chargers as well as matchups with the Bills, Dolphins and Vikings.
Broncos strength of schedule
The Broncos will have the 13th-hardest strength of schedule in the NFL for 2023, per Sharp Football Analysis. This analysis is based on the projected win totals for each of Denver's opponents for the upcoming season rather than their record in 2023.
Denver actually had the 10th-easiest strength of schedule during the 2022 NFL season, so the Broncos will face stiffer competition than they did last year. That is thanks to their matchups with the loaded AFC East and solid-looking NFC North.
Given Denver's issues winning games last season, few will be encouraged by this uptick in schedule difficulty. It will be up to Sean Payton and Russell Wilson to establish that last year's main issue was Nathaniel Hackett and not several of the other roster issues that the Broncos have.
Toughest tests: All three of the Broncos' divisional road games figure to be tough, and having to face the Chiefs and Chargers will be difficult. The road game against the Chiefs is probably the hardest matchup on Denver's schedule, and the team would be lucky to escape the division with a 3-3 record overall.
Elsewhere, traveling to Buffalo and Miami for games against the Bills and Dolphins will test just how Wilson can play in both cold and hot weather. Playing the Bears at the ever-tough Soldier Field will be difficult as well, and the Lions probably have the edge over Denver at Ford Field.
Among the Broncos' non-divisional home games, their battle with Aaron Rodgers and the Jets figures to be the most difficult. That said, Rodgers threw for just 77 yards in his lone start in Denver back in 2015, so perhaps the Broncos defense can find a way to stymie him.
It's reasonable to expect the Broncos to be underdogs frequently in 2023, even if they are better than they were last season. They simply are playing a lot of strong teams with good coaches and solid home-field advantages.
Biggest breaks: The Broncos will have a couple of easier games on the schedule, at least. They get to play the Texans, and while that is a road game, Denver should be far enough ahead of the rebuilding Texans to earn a victory there.
Denver will also play host to Sam Howell and the Commanders in 2023. That will give the Broncos' defense a chance to tee off on an inexperienced quarterback in his first year as a starter.
But aside from those two games, the Broncos don't have many games that qualify as obvious wins or favorable matchups. They could beat the Patriots, Browns and Raiders at home, but none looks like a particularly easy contest.
NFL QB RANKINGS 2023: AFC | NFC
Bottom line: The Broncos are a tough team to figure out heading into 2023. Yes, they should be better than they were in 2022 with Hackett gone, but there remain questions about just how much of the problem fell on Wilson at quarterback.
If he can't bounce back under the leadership of Sean Payton, it will be hard to trust this Broncos team to compete for a playoff spot.
The Broncos simply don't have a favorable enough schedule to overcome some of the issues that could hold them back. Their receiving corps is solid, but injury prone. Javonte Williams is coming off a torn ACL, so he may not be 100 percent. And while the offensive line is better, there are still questions about whether Wilson will be able to avoid negative plays and sacks as he scrambles around in the backfield.
Would it be surprising to see a full bounce-back from Wilson in a better offense? No, it wouldn't. But would it be a surprise to see his regression continue and handcuff the Broncos? Also no.
All that's to say that though the Broncos will be better in 2023, they aren't out of the woods yet. As such, it's probably best to expect them to fall just short of their projected win total of 8.5 this season.
Record prediction: 8-9