Carolina Panthers vs Denver Broncos Live NFL First game Online Main Event 2016. When the Carolina Panthers travel to Denver to kick off the 2016 NFL season against the Broncos on Thursday, they’ll do so as 3-point favorites to win on the road. That should be your first clue that this isn’t just a Super Bowl 50 rematch.
The Broncos beat the Panthers in the Super Bowl just seven months ago, but the game was more lopsided than even the 24-10 score suggests. The Panthers held Peyton Manning to just 141 passing yards, but the three fumbles Carolina’s offense lost to Denver made it difficult for the Panthers to stay competitive in the Super Bowl.
What: Carolina Panthers (0-0) at Denver Broncos (0-0)
When: Thursday, Sept. 8, 5:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, CO
Players to watch: Carolina – RB Jonathan Stewart (Oregon), TE Ed Dickson (Oregon), QB Derek Anderson (Oregon State), OG Mike Remmers (Oregon State), LB David Mayo (Scappoose H.S.). Denver – S T.J. Ward (Oregon), DT Darrion Weems (Oregon), DT Kyle Peko (Oregon State).
Keys to the game: The Panthers led the NFL in scoring in the 2015 regular season but the speed of the Broncos’ front seven caused league MVP Cam Newton and his offensive line fits in Super Bowl 50. The Panthers, who lost running back Jonathan Stewart in that game after he ran for seven yards on seven carries in the first half, want to work at their own pace and not forget their ground game. The approach mandates success on early downs, and avoiding the edge rushing tandem of Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. Newton has huge receivers in Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess plus tight end Greg Olsen who can win one-on-one if protected.
Trevor Siemian is in at quarterback for Denver, and managing mistakes trumps all for the 2015 seventh-round pick. The Panthers applied immense pressure in the Super Bowl but a mostly new offensive line stands between Carolina’s pass rushers and Siemian. With a new-look group minus cornerback Josh Norman, the Panthers’ secondary is not as intimidating from behind center. Siemian has a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to take shots off of play-action, but expect mostly a short-range passing game to guard against giveaways. That plan emphasizes running back C.J. Anderson, who is still growing familiar with his front five.
Matchup to watch: Broncos C Matt Paradis vs. Panthers DT Kawann Short: Paradis is the only starter in place from the Super Bowl 50 starting offensive line of the Broncos. He’s feisty but needs help to usher Short, a Pro Bowl pass rusher in a contract year, away from Siemian.
Player spotlight: Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin: He could be limited to 35 snaps in his first game back from a torn ACL, but the 6-5 target caught nine touchdown passes in 2014 and can get behind the defense.
Fast facts: This is the first Super Bowl rematch played on Kickoff Weekend since 1970. … Only eight teams have repeated as Super Bowl champs since 1967. New England, in 2004, was the last to go back-to-back. … Newton led the NFL with 45 total touchdowns last season (10 rushing).