NFL Schedule 2012: Peyton Manning's Broncos Debut Among The Highlights

The 2012 NFL schedule was released on Tuesday night, giving us the entire 256-game schedule for the 2012 season. Here are our immediate reactions and things to look forward to.

Apr 18, 2012 - Although we already knew the opponents for every team, the NFL on Tuesday night released the 2012 NFL schedule with the dates and times of every game. The NFL is somewhat unique in the that every team can legitimately say before the season that it has a shot to compete for the playoffs. The playoff field annually has a turnover rate of about 50 percent, so even those teams that missed the playoffs last season have good reason to feel they can make a playoff run.
There are a ton of highlights to go over with the schedule release. Here are a few of them, including the best games each week.
Peyton Manning's debut comes in Denver. Mark your calendars -- 8:20 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9. Manning lines up as a Bronco for the first time against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's gonna be strange seeing him in Broncos colors. Pittsburgh's defense is about as tough as a first game as you can get.
The NFL obviously expects Manning to be healthy. Why else would they put Manning and the Broncos in primetime in a whopping four of their first eight games? The Broncos got five total primetime games, which is the max you can receive. The fact that four of them are coming so early in the season suggests the league thinks Manning will be healthy.
Harbaugh vs. Schwartz in Week 2. The surprise team in last year's playoffs, 49ers, lands a total of five primetime games, starting with the Lions in Week 2. Why is the Lions game significant? The handshake reunion. I'm sure they've made up by this point. And learned how to shake hands. San Francisco is one of the up-and-coming teams in the league so they're getting some good treatment from the league. I'm already looking forward to the game against the Patriots, which should be one of the best defenses against one of the best defenses.
A total of eight teams received the maximum five primetime games. Those teams are the defending champion New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers.
New England only has four primetime games. Not a big deal but it seems strange that the Patriots, of all teams, wouldn't have the max number of primetime games.
Giants will set a new NFL record this year. The Giants will be the first team in NFL history to play a game on a Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday and Monday in one season. The Wednesday game comes from the season opener against the Cowboys, then the Thursday Night Football game, the regular Sunday games and then Monday Night Football.
Thanksgiving lineup has two huge rivalries. The Texans and Lions are the first Thanksgiving game and while it'll be a cool game, it's hardly a rivalry. You can't say the same for the two other Thanksgiving day games -- Redskins vs. Cowboys and Patriots vs. Jets. For Washington, this game comes only five days after playing the Eagles. Hope Robert Griffin III is in good shape.
Two games will be international. In Week 8, the Rams will "host" the Patriots at London's Wembley's stadium. In Week 15, the Bills will "host" the Seahawks in Toronto.


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