The 2012 NFL schedule has been released and the Denver Broncos will appear in the league-maximum of five prime time games this fall. The NFL and the networks are taking a big leap of faith that Peyton Manning will be able to return from multiple neck surgeries and 20 months off from football.
Last season, the Indianapolis Colts, a team that finished 2-14, put up duds in its multiple prime time games without Peyton Manning on the field. The likes of Kerry Collins, Dan Orlovsky and Curtis Painter all went under center for the Colts. If John Elway's Plan A of Peyton Manning fails, that currently leaves the Broncos with no real Plan B. As Sports Illustrated's Don Banks writes:
For Denver's sake, and the NFL's, Manning had better be ready from the first snap of the regular season on. Caleb Hanie, at the moment, is the Broncos backup quarterback. And we all know what happened in Chicago last season when he was forced to center stage.
The Broncos are expected to draft a quarterback in the later round of the 2012 NFL Draft, but there's unlikely to be saving grace with that selection should Manning falter. The Broncos are all in with Peyton Manning. It's a good hand the Broncos have, but will there be anything to trump it?