The National Football League released the schedule for its 256-game season last night. It will start with the Giants hosting the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 5, continuing a tradition in which the Super Bowl champion has been host for every opener since 2004.
Peyton Manning will make his Denver Broncos debut with a home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the opening week of the 2012 season.
“We’re excited about that,” Broncos Executive Vice President John Elway said. “Any time you have a guy behind the center named Peyton Manning, you’re going to get a lot of attention.”
Four-time NFL Most Valuable Player Manning was released by the Indianapolis Colts to avoid making a $28 million payout after he missed a season following neck surgeries. In his first game for Denver, Manning will face a Steelers team that ranked first in overall defense last season.
“The opening game in Denver obviously will be an interesting way to start the season,” Steelers President Art Rooney said. “There will be a lot of attention paid to Peyton Manning’s first game with the Denver Broncos, so it’ll be exciting starting out that way.”
Win Over 49ers
The Giants, who defeated the 49ers 20-17 at Candlestick Park on Jan. 22 to advance to the Super Bowl, also will play the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals in non-division games on the road. The New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns and Steelers will be their non-division opponents at home.
The New York Jets also will begin the season at home, against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 9.
The Jets face the Houston Texans, Colts, San Diego Chargers, Arizona Cardinals and 49ers at home in non-division games. They will play the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Steelers, St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks on the road in non-division games.
The Colts, 2-14 last year without Manning, will face four playoff teams: Detroit, Green Bay, Houston and New England,
“We are looking forward to a very competitive schedule, especially an always tough AFC South slate,” said new Colts coach Chuck Pagano. “This team continues to gel and build chemistry with each passing day and we will continue to labor at a high level.”
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