NFL Opener Thursday Night Preview

The 2016 NFL season happens to be 12th straight year in which a defending Super Bowl champion looks to repeat - something we have not had happened since the 2004 New England Patriots, remember! - and so let's see if the here-and-now Denver Broncos can get "mission accomplished" this season.

In case a buddy of yours tries to stump you with a trivia question, let 'em know that the Broncos are one of seven franchises that have repeated as Super Bowl champs (see 1997 and '98 seasons) to go along with the Green Bay Packers (SB 1 and 2), the Miami Dolphins (SB 7 and 8), the Pittsburgh Steelers twice (SB 9 and 10; SB 13 and 14), the San Francisco 49ers (SB 23 and 24), the Dallas Cowboys (SB 27 and 28) and the aforementioned NE Patriots (SB 38 and 39).

On Thursday Night, it's ...CAROLINA at DENVER - 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
The Las Vegas number-crunchers established the Broncos as 2.5-point betting favorites a while back but that quickly zoomed in the other direction and so here's the "revenge-minded" Carolina Panthers laying a FG price in this kickoff game ... is that a mere over-reaction to the fact that Denver's starting novice QB Trevor Siemian here? The new kid on the block is hardly expected to fill the shoes of Peyton Manning (or Brock Osweiler, for that matter) but be sure Broncos' head coach Gary Kubiak wants his new gunslinger to challenge a defense that sports three new faces and no CB Josh Norman (see Washington Redskins).

On the flip side, 2015 MVP QB Cam Newton can't be blamed for spending every waking moment thinking about OLB Von Miller but expect the Panthers' do-it-all signal-caller to play-fake often and try to keep Miller and Company at bay - we say a very important part of this game will be what Carolina does in short-yardage situations 'cause Newton could look for some long balls to WRs Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess if give the time.

Spread Notes - Denver is 5-2-1 versus the vig in its last eight season-opening games and the Broncos won all three of their games last year when placed in the home underdog role (against Green Bay and then New England twice). On the flip side, Carolina covered 10-of-13 games a year ago when playing outside the NFC South.

In other NFL Week 1 News/Notes ...

Is it us ... or is the fact that Philadelphia rookie QB Carson Wentz starting the Week 1 home game against the Cleveland Browns one of the really crazy things in recent league history? C'mon, the draft's second overall pick played in the first preseason game, suffered rib injuries and now is getting the nod to start here?

The weekend past trade of disgruntled QB Sam Bradford to Minnesota for first- and fourth-round draft choices was a sound move by the rebuilding Eagles but starting wet-behind-the-ears Wentz over Chase Daniel? Kooky stuff ...

There are three divisional matchups on the Week 1 Sunday card - that's Tampa Bay at Atlanta, San Diego at Kansas City and the New York Giants at Dallas -- and there are some significant pointspread ditties to consider:

Betting Favorites are a rock-solid 14-6 ATS (against the spread) in the last 20 games played in the Bucs-Falcons NFC South series the past 10 years; The Chiefs bested the Chargers by a composite score of 43-6 last year - and still San Diego managed a spread split as the Bolts covered as 10.5-point pups in the 10-3 loss at Arrowhead Stadium; And the Giants have covered five of their last seven games played in Dallas including last year's hard-to-stomach 27-26 loss-but-cover as 7-point underdogs.

The NFL begins Thursday night with the nationally televised Super Bowl rematch of the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos and I intend to begin the season in just the same manner I crushed the opening weekend of the college season.  Click here and Win Thursday Night for $25