Finally, real NFL football is back in our lives.
The 2016 season kicks off Thursday night in the traditional format of the defending Super Bowl champs hosting the first regular-season game. However, it will be a rare opening night Super Bowl rematch as the Denver Broncos face the Carolina Panthers.
It was just seven months ago that Denver upset Carolina to win Super Bowl 50 by a 24-10 margin. The game marks the first Super Bowl rematch played on opening weekend since 1970 when the Kansas City Chiefs opened the season against the Minnesota Vikings after defeating the Vikings 23-7 in Super Bowl IV.
The Broncos enter the game with a .655 winning percentage (36-19-1) in season-opening games, the second-best record in the NFL. Improving that record will prove to be a tall order as Denver begins 2016 with Trevor Siemian at quarterback, who replaces future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.
Carolina doesn't have the issue, as reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton once again has Carolina looking like a strong Super Bowl contender. However, Denver made Newton look average in the Super Bowl, thanks to a stout defense that returns Von Miller, Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware and Chris Harris to what should be a top-five unit this year.
Here is everything you'll need to watch and follow the first NFL game of the 2016 season.
Carolina Panthers (0-0) at Denver Broncos (0-0)
When: 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 8
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High - Denver, CO.
Radio: Sirius 83, XM 226, SXM 226 (804 online)
Weather: 86°/53° / Partly Cloudy / 10 mph SSE wind / 0% precip. (Complete forecast)
Regular Season Series: Broncos lead all-time series 3-1
Announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
Online NFL Streaming: NBC Sports
Replay: NFL.com Game Pass
Odds: Carolina enters this game as a 3-point favorite, according to Odds Shark. The over/under is set at 41.5.
My Pick: Carolina -3 and under 41.5.