The Denver Broncos faced the Carolina Panthers in the most recent meaningful NFL game, and the two teams will meet again to kick off the 2016 regular season. It’s a rematch of Super Bowl 50 on Thursday night in the first game of Week 1.
Thursday marks the 13th straight year in which the Super Bowl winner has played in the season opener. The defending champs are nearly unbeatable in the first game of the season, going 10-2 since 2004. Denver, however, isn’t expected to have an easy time continuing the trend, entering the contest as home underdogs with a new starting quarterback.
Trevor Siemian has been named as Peyton Manning’s replacement, making his first ever start on Thursday’s nationally televised broadcast. Prior to appearing in three preseason games, Siemian’s only action involved taking a knee as the Broncos headed to halftime of last year's Week 15 game in Pittsburgh.
"The thing about replacing Peyton -- nobody is going to replace Peyton," Siemian said when he was named the starter. "Those shoes are a little too big to fill. For me, I’m not reading too much into anything and trying to be the best teammate and leader I can be."
Denver didn’t need great quarterback play to defeat Carolina on Feb. 7. In fact, Manning had maybe the worst performance of any Super Bowl-winning quarterback in history, winning on the strength of the Broncos’ defense.
The Panthers return their starting quarterback, who was the NFL’s top overall player in 2015. Cam Newton led Carolina to a 15-1 record in his MVP season, but he was sacked six times in the Super Bowl and completed less than 50 percent of his passes.
Just hours before kickoff, Carolina is a three-point favorite at Las Vegas and online sportsbooks, per OddsShark, and the over/under is 40.5 points. The Panthers were even bigger favorites in Super Bowl 50.
Start Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC
Online Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra