NFL 2016: Panthers and Broncos’ rematch opens new season

Carolina Panthers get an immediate chance to avenge their defeat at Super Bowl 50 by the Denver Broncos, with the two teams set to kick-off the 2016 NFL season on Thursday, September 8 in Denver.

The 256-game regular season schedule was released by the league on Thursday, with the Broncos-Panthers game the first Super Bowl opening day rematch since 1970 when the Kansas City Chiefs faced the Minnesota Vikings.

“I think it’s great,” Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. “It’s a big challenge for our team. It gets our attention really quick.”

“We know that we’re going to have to have a really good offseason. We’ve got some changes going on with our football team, but our standard will be the same. We’ll look forward to it.”

Last year’s Conference championship losers the New England Patriots and the Arizona Cardinals are also set to meet on the opening day, while 2013 Super Bowl winners Seattle Seahawks host the Miami Dolphins.

The highlight of Week 2 sees the Rams play for the first time in Los Angeles since their move from St. Louis. The Seahawks are the visitors to the Memorial Coliseum.

Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers will renew hostilities in the second week, with their previous meeting still fresh in the memory.

Their match-up in the Wild Card round back in January saw the Steelers come from behind to clinch am 18-16 victory, but the game was marred by controversy, with plenty of head-to-head confrontations, late hits and penalties.

The Seahawks’ trip to face the Patriots is the standout game on Week 10.

The Patriots defeated the Seahawks at Super Bowl 49 and the pair were hotly tipped to meet up again in last season’s final but both came up short.

The traditional Thanksgiving tripleheader on Thursday November 24 sees the Vikings take on the Detroit Lions, while the Washington Redskins travel to face the Dallas Cowboys.

The Indianapolis Colts host the Steelers in the day’s final game.

As part of the league’s continued commitment to global expansion there will be three games in London during October.

The Jacksonville Jaguars face the Indianapolis Colts on October 2 at Wembley Stadium, with the Rams meeting the New York Giants at Twickenham Stadium on October 23.

Wembley will host the third game between the Bengals and the Redskins on October 30.

The first ever Monday night game to be played outside the US takes place in Mexico City on November 21 as the Oakland Raiders tackle the Houston Texans.

There are two Christmas Day games, with the Steelers facing the Baltimore Ravens and the Chiefs hosting the Broncos.

The final round of regular season games are scheduled for New Years’ Day 2017.