Before he became a Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning was a god in Indianapolis.

Andrew Luck kicked that deity to the street.

The 2014 season will begin with Manning and the Broncos playing Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in a prime-time Sunday night game Sept. 7 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

"I think that is always exciting to see how you open, where do you open and who you open with," Broncos coach John Fox said in a statement. "That's what all this offseason stuff is going to be geared toward. I think we have a home-heavy schedule the first half of the season and a road-heavy schedule late in the year.

"It's hard to say as far as opponents and schedules and all that kind of stuff, because you never know year to year. They're all tough."

As is the norm when Manning is the team's quarterback, the Broncos have the maximum five prime-time games scheduled in 2014. Besides Game 1 against the Colts, the Broncos will also play night games against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Oct. 19; the San Diego Chargers on Thursday, Oct. 23; at Kansas City on Sunday, Nov. 30; and Monday, Dec. 22, at Cincinnati.

There is also a possibility the Broncos could be "flexed" into a sixth prime-time game.

However, two of the Broncos' marquee games — at Seattle in Game 3 on Sept. 21 and at New England in Game 8 on Nov. 2 — will not be played in prime time.

The game at Seattle will mark a rematch of Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2 in New Jersey, where the Seahawks ripped the Broncos 43-8.

Counting their preseason game, the Broncos and Seahawks will play against each other three times in an eight-month span.

As for the Patriots, maybe the nation is finally tiring of the Manning-Tom Brady matchup. The NFL's two most decorated quarterbacks have gone head-to-head 15 times, with Brady's team winning 10. Manning, however, outplayed Brady in leading the Broncos to a 26-16 win in the AFC championship game last season in Denver.

So old is the Manning-Brady story line that the networks are now more intrigued with Manning-Luck.

Manning is arguably the NFL's top star, a status that began with 14 seasons in Indianapolis and continued during his three seasons with the Broncos. A bum neck forced Manning to miss the entire 2011 season. His age (then about to turn 36), injury risk and the chance to select Luck from Stanford with the No. 1 overall draft pick conspired for the Colts to release Manning outright.

In March 2012, Manning signed with the Broncos. He has led the franchise to back-to-back 13-3 records and No. 1 AFC playoff seeds, although Manning and the Broncos have yet to win it all, as he did for Indianapolis in the 2006 season.

Manning led the Broncos to Indianapolis during Game 7 of the regular season. Luck and the Colts barely held off a Manning-led comeback and won 39-33.

A few highlights of the Broncos' 2014 schedule

• The Broncos had better hit the ground running (and passing), because they play five of their first seven games at home.

"I think when you look at it, we have to start fast," Broncos general manager John Elway said. "We have three playoff teams the first three weeks with the Colts, Chiefs and the Seahawks. We have to get off to a quick start."

• The payback to the favorable early schedule is after they play the AFC West rival San Diego Chargers on a Thursday night game Oct. 23, the Broncos play six of their next eight games on the road.

• The Broncos' Week 4 bye is their earliest in-season vacation since 2006, when they also had a bye week after their third game.

Mike Klis: mklis@denverpost.com


2014 Broncos schedule

Sept. 7 — vs. Indianapolis Colts, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 14 — vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 2:25 p.m.
Sept. 21 — at Seattle Seahawks, 2:25 p.m.
Sept. 28 — BYE
Oct. 5 — vs. Arizona Cardinals, 2:05 p.m.
Oct. 12 — at New York Jets, 11 a.m.
Oct. 19 — vs. San Francisco 49ers, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 23 — vs. San Diego Chargers, 6:25 p.m.
Nov. 2 — at New England Patriots, 2:25 p.m.
Nov. 9 — at Oakland Raiders, 2:05 p.m.
Nov. 16 — at St. Louis Rams, 11 a.m.
Nov. 23 — vs. Miami Dolphins, 2:25 p.m.
Nov. 30 — at Kansas City Chiefs, 6:30 p.m.
Dec. 7 — vs. Buffalo Bills, 2:05 p.m.
Dec. 14 — at San Diego Chargers, 2:05 p.m.
Dec. 22 — at Cincinnati Bengals, 6:30 p.m.
Dec. 28 — vs. Oakland Raiders, 2:25 p.m.

Preseason schedule

Aug. 7 — vs. Seattle Seahawks, 7 p.m.
Aug. 17 — at San Francisco 49ers, 2 p.m.
Aug. 23 — vs. Houston Texans, 7 p.m.
Aug. 28 — at Dallas Cowboys, 6 p.m.