NEW YORK -- The Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens will open the 2013 season at Denver in the now-traditional Thursday night kickoff game.
The NFL champs usually host the opener, but the Orioles are home Sept. 5 and could not move their game. So $121 million quarterback Joe Flacco and the Ravens were sent to Denver -- to face Peyton Manning and the team they beat in double overtime on their way to the Super Bowl.
Baltimore preferred beginning the season Thursday night on the road rather than at home on Sunday.
Other schedule highlights announced Thursday: Manning returning to Indianapolis on Sunday night, Oct. 20; Manning against younger brother Eli and the Giants in Week 2 at the Meadowlands; and coach Andy Reid returning to Philadelphia with the Chiefs on Thursday night, Sept. 19.
The New England Patriots will start their season at Buffalo on Sept. 8 then play their home opener four days later in a Thursday night game against the New York Jets.
Five of the Patriots 16 games will be against teams that had winning records last season. One of them, the Denver Broncos, visits the Patriots on Nov. 24 with former New England wide receiver Wes Welker, who left as a free agent.
The other four are on the road at Atlanta (13-3) on Sept. 29, Cincinnati (10-6) on Oct. 6, Houston (12-4) on Dec. 1 and Super Bowl champion Baltimore (10-6) on Dec. 22. The Ravens beat the Patriots 28-13 in Foxborough in the AFC title game last season.
Five of the games will be played at night.