One of the most talked about stories of this offseason was Peyton Manning's destination. He landed in Denver and next year he lands in hell.
Well, pseudo-hell. Manning will find that his surgically-repaired neck will be tested in what is far from an easy schedule. The division opponents alone, while not impossibly difficult, will give Manning a nice test. You would expect Oakland and San Diego to be better. And some of Denver's non-division games are nasty including games against Pittsburgh, Houston, New Orleans, New England, Atlanta and Carolina.
Manning will play in five nationally televised games and will face four of the seven other division winners from 2011.
Across the league other big names that changed teams either via free agency or trade face equally brutal challenges. Mario Williams went from Houston to Buffalo and he'll see the Patriots as well as the 49ers and Texans. But overall, Williams will be able to slide much more gently into his new digs than Manning will his.
Tim Tebow is in New York and while there are silly predictions like the one from analyst Heath Evans who dumbly predicted Tebow would be the Jets' starting quarterback by Week 3 of the preseason, what is certain is that few players will be watched more than Tebow. While Tebow will have to deal with Jets fans, and Jets media and the scrutiny of being in New York, he will have something in his favor. The Jets' schedule isn't tough. They do face the Patriots twice, the 49ers and the Steelers, but the rest of their schedule is littered with chumps.
I think Manning is in deep trouble. He's great and the Broncos are good but that schedule is one of the toughest in football and would be a massive test for a healthy Manning let alone a player who has had multiple surgeries.
The big free agent name that will sneak up on people...Mario Williams. Look out for Buffalo.