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Will a Super Bowl 50 rematch kick off 2016 season?

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Welcome to Depression Monday.

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Drudging through your seemingly endless workday, nursing a nagging headache, the realization washes over you: With the Super Bowl over we must wait 213 days for the next meaningful NFL game. Yuck.

Instead of dwelling on that disgusting fact, let's look forward to the start of the season -- skipping over the endless debates over rookie potential and free agency speculation.

We know the Denver Broncos will jump-start the season at Sports Authority Field at Mile High for NFL Kickoff 2016 Weekend on Thursday, Sept. 8. We also know the teams the Broncos will host next season:

San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots.

The final two are the probable favorites to kick off the season against the (likely) Peyton Manning-less Broncos.

Let's break down top three choices:

1a. Carolina Panthers

Yes, the Super Bowl wasn't the most entertaining game in the history of football, but the Kickoff game is as much about marketing for the NFL as it is about the game. The Panthers remain a great story, with a tremendous defense and a superstar quarterback. Despite the free flowing lava-hot takes about Cam Newton in the post-Super Bowl aftermath, the NFL's MVP remains on pace to be the face of the NFL.

The underlying plot line of Newton's redemption story and the divisiveness that spawns wherever he goes will only add to the intrigue to generate higher ratings.

With the Panthers getting receiver Kelvin Benjamin back and the Broncos with a bevy of free agents, there will be major question marks for both sides. Kicking off the 2016 season with a rematch would normally be a no brainer. Except...

1b. New England Patriots

Tom Brady (check), rivalry (check), pervasively hated team on national TV (check). Unlike the Super Bowl, the Patriots and Broncos have played close, entertaining games. The AFC Championship came down to a two-point attempt. Who wouldn't love to see that again to start the season?

Even if Manning walks away, as expected, the Broncos showed promise under Brock Osweiler (assuming John Elway can keep him in Denver), which included beating the Pats. Promoting a budding Brady-Osweiler rivalry would be quite fine with the NFL. The in-game chess match between the Broncos pass rush -- which dominated the Super Bowl -- and a Patriots offense line that was dismantled in the AFC Championship game provides enough fodder for the lead up.

This would be my choice for the kickoff if it weren't for the NFL's appeal of the Tom Brady Deflategate case. If the league wins the appeal and reinstates the quarterback's four-game suspension, he'd miss the kickoff. The NFL likely won't chance needing to promote a game sans Mannng and Brady.

3. Indianapolis Colts

For me, this matchup is far, far below those two. Andrew Luck's return would offer a good selling point. The Colts' wins over the Broncos the past two years give some gumption to the rivalry and would offer talking points for Denver coaches. The return of Chuck Pagano is also a positive for this matchup storyline.

In the end, the chances of an early blowout to open the season remain too high with a Colts team that lacked talent in 2015.

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