Manning Handed Tough Start

  • Last Updated: April 18 2012, 14:24 BST

Peyton Manning has been given one of the toughest starts imaginable as he will make a very public debut for the Denver Broncos in their first game of the new NFL season - against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Peyton Manning: Will debut against Pittsburgh

The traditional Thursday night opener of the new season had already been released with Super Bowl champions New York Giants hosting the Dallas Cowboys on September 5.

The full schedule was released by the NFL on Tuesday and Manning's first game for Denver will be a huge one against the league's best defence from last season.

The Steelers and Manning are no strangers to each other after numerous big AFC battles down the years, but a neck injury ultimately led to Manning being released by the Indianapolis Colts after missing last season.

As if Pittsburgh needed more firing up, Denver were the team that knocked them out of the play-offs last season thanks to a late TD throw from Tim Tebow - who has since left the Broncos to join the Jets.

"There will be a lot of attention paid to Peyton Manning's first game with the Denver Broncos, so it will be exciting to start out that way," said Steelers president Art Rooney.

It doesn't get any easier for Manning and Denver as after their Sunday night nationally televised clash with Pittsburgh they travel to Atlanta in week two for a Monday Night Football clash - meaning the four-time MVP's return to action will be a very public affair.

The first Sunday of the NFL season on September 9 also sees the San Francisco 49ers take on the Green Bay Packers, while plenty of attention will be on New Orleans, and not just because they will host the next Super Bowl.

The Saints have had coach Sean Payton suspended and interim coach Joe Vit is also banned for the first six games, while their opening day opponents Washington will most probably have Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III in their ranks after next week's draft.

14 games will be played on Thursday nights for the first time, starting in the second week of the season with Chicago and Green Bay renewing NFC North rivalries at Lambeau Field.

Two more games will be played outside of the USA once again, with Wembley Stadium hosting the St Louis Rams against the New England Patriots in October, while the Buffalo Bills again play in Toronto against Seattle in December.

Thanksgiving Day is synonymous with NFL games, and this year there seems to be one of the best line-ups in recent memory, with a tasty Turkey Day triple.

Detroit look like real contenders and they host another in their traditional game on November 22 against the Houston Texans, who many believe could have gone to the Super Bowl last year but for terrible injuries at quarterback.

The Dallas Cowboys are also traditional Thanksgiving hosts and they welcome Washington to Texas who will know a bit more about star QB Griffin should they draft him as expected.

A third game on the day features the Patriots facing off against bitter AFC East rivals the Jets, who could have Tebow at the helm by then, or still Mark Sanchez, or both!

The play-offs begin on January 5, 2013, with the Super Bowl being held in New Orleans on February 3.