Word has emerged from the NFL owners meetings in Florida that the Denver Broncos are expected to play the Dallas Cowboys in their final preseason game of 2014 on Thursday, Aug. 28, according to a Denver Post report.
That is notable not only because it will mark the first time pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware will be playing against the Cowboys, but also because of NFL scheduling logistics. Per the 'Post's Mike Klis, Denver playing on the road in their final preseason game would make it unlikely for the NFL to schedule them to also play in the league's season opener.
Free Agency Frenzy
Free Agency Frenzy
Because the Broncos will play on the road for their final preseason game, it's less likely they will open Week 1 of the regular season with the NFL's Thursday night, Sept. 4 opener at Seattle.
As is painfully obvious to Denver, the Seahawks are the defending Super Bowl champions, which carries the privilege of hosting the league opener Sept. 4. And the Broncos are on the Seahawks' home schedule. It's just not likely the teams would meet in Week 1.
The Seahawks are among Denver's 2014 road opponents (full list of 2014 opponents here) and many expected them to host the Broncos in Week 1. Last offseason, a source close to Denver's front office told me that the team was expecting to play the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football in Week 1. After the Baltimore Orioles would not allow the Ravens to use their shared stadium for the NFL's opener, the league was forced to shuffle their schedule.
The Ravens ended up opening the season in Denver and were promptly smashed, 49-27. The Broncos traveled to New York to face the Giants a week later in Week 2.
It looks as if Denver will not be playing in the opener for a second consecutive season, but it wouldn't be surprising to see them scheduled to open the year in prime time for a third consecutive year. In 2012, quarterback Peyton Manning debuted with the Broncos against the Pittsburgh Steelers on SNF in Week 1. Last year, the team was from moved from opening on SNF again to playing on Thursday, according to a source.
Among Denver's most intriguing 2014 opponents are the Colts (home), 49ers (home), Patriots (away), and as noted above, the Seahawks (away). With the 'Hawks seemingly ruled out, Indianapolis, San Francisco, and New England appear to be prime candidates to face Denver on SNF in Week 1 this fall.
As of now, though, everything is speculation. We'll know more about Denver's 2014 schedule in the coming weeks.