The 2012 Denver Broncos' schedule has looked tough from the time it was released.
The home tilt starts with a rematch from last year's playoff game against the Steelers.
Opening night on national TV will be a huge game but the Broncos have a much tougher and bigger game at home this season.
The Houston Texans visit Sports Authority Field on Sept. 23 for a Week 3 match-up of teams with Super Bowl dreams.
Houston and Denver made it to the Divisional Round last season and expectations are higher this year.
The Texans are considered an AFC powerhouse.
Several experts are picking the Texans with a healthy Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson as the AFC representative in the Super Bowl and some see them winning the whole thing.
This early season game in Denver will give the Broncos a chance to see how close they are to being a Super Bowl team.
The Texans will bring a tough defense that, even with the loss of sack master Mario Williams, will be considered one of the best in the league. The defense is coached by former Broncos head coach Wade Phillips.
That is not the only Denver/Houston connection. Texans head coach Gary Kubiak was the offensive coordinator in Denver when they were winning Super Bowls and was also Broncos boss John Elway's backup for many years.
New Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning also has a lot of familiarity with the Texans. He played them twice a year since the Texans joined the league in 2002. Even though Manning did not face the playoff team Texans last season, he still knows a lot of the players and what they bring to the table.
This game could turn out to be an AFC Championship preview and with how tough the Broncos' schedule is, a win in a home game is a must.
Even though the Broncos have to win most if not all their home game this year, the Texans game in the biggest. With the match-ups and the story lines it will be a great AFC battle for the fans.
If the Broncos win it could send them into a special season with a lot of momentum and confidence. A loss could get in the team's head that they can beat good teams which could be a disaster with all the tough teams on the schedule.