The scheduling overlords deemed a Super Bowl 50 rematch the 2016 Kickoff game, which Around The NFL's Gregg Rosenthal broke down in depth.
Road to a Broncos Return
It's a good thing Denver still boasts one of the top defenses in the NFL, as it will be tested right out of the gate. The Broncos face six quality starting quarterbacks in consecutive weeks to begin their Lombardi Trophy defense:
There's three No. 1 overall picks in that group and not a slouch among the sextuplet of signal-callers. Getting Newton and Luck at home to start the season should be a boon for Wade Phillip's defense, but the Colts have given Denver trouble both on the road and at home the past two seasons.
Following a Thursday night game in San Diego, Denver gets an extended break before meeting its former quarterback, Brock Osweiler, at home on Monday night in Week 7. Given all the reports that the quarterback was miffed at the franchise before departing, that will be a fun prime-time affair.
The final six games of the season following a Week 11 bye could be tasking for a veteran team. Denver plays two games against division rival Kansas City, who gave the Broncos trouble last season -- this year includes a prime-time contest on Christmas Day. They once again host AFC power New England Patriots in Week 15. Denver travels to potential upstart Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and closes the season at home against a much-improved Oakland squad in what could be a playoff-determining division matchup.
Path to redemption for Panthers
Three division games leading into a Week 7 bye are key for Carolina, which is attempting to win its fourth consecutive title: at Atlanta, then vs. Tampa Bay and at New Orleans. The opening slate sets up well for a fast start for the Panthers, which would allow them to quickly shutter memories of the Super Bowl loss.
On the backend of the schedule, Carolina faces a daunting back-to-back West Coast road trip at Oakland in Week 12 and at Seattle in Week 13, which is always a slugfest between the NFC powers.
If the Panthers are to repeat their 2015 successes, they'll have to finish strong on the road down the stretch. Carolina travels in four of its final six games, including a visit to the defending NFC East champion Washington Redskins on a Monday night in December before closing at Tampa Bay on Jan. 1.