The 2016 NFL season will kickoff with a Super Bowl rematch from last year. The Denver Broncos will host the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football. Kickoff is set for 8:30 EST at Sports Authority Field and will be televised on NBC. Our Week 1 odds show the Panthers listed as a 3.5-point road favorite with the total set at 42 points.

Panthers vs Broncos Spread Betting Preview

The Broncos defeated the Panthers 24-10 in Super Bowl 50. Denver took control early on a defensive touchdown and never looked back. The Panthers had a 315-194 edge in total yards and 21-11 advantage in first downs. However, they were done in by 4 turnovers and 7 sacks by the Broncos defense.

Free Betting Pick & Prediction on the Game Odds: Broncos +3.5

I’m actually a bit surprised to see the Broncos catching over a field goal at home. I really think Denver should be the ones favored in this game. Getting points at home with a strong team is always a key factor I look for when making my free NFL picks.

A lot of that has to do with Denver starting Trevor Siemian at quarterback. The Broncos watched Peyton Manning retire and Brock Osweiler sign with the Texans. Siemian showed enough in camp to not only win the starting job, but allow Denver to cut Mark Sanchez.

As most of you know, the Broncos got to and won the Super Bowl last year with horrific quarterback play. Who is to say they can’t do it again? Siemian doesn’t have to put up huge numbers, he just has to take care of the football. I believe he can do just that.

Denver still has two weapons at receiver in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. These two aren’t getting a ton of hype going into this contest, but I think they could be the difference. Carolina shockingly let star corner Josh Norman leave town. There’s a chance they end up starting two rookies at corner in this game. Keep in mind they also didn’t resign veteran safety Roman Harper.

The Broncos are also going to be able to move the chains with the running game. The Carolina defense is loaded up front, but this will be a tough test for them. The thin air of Denver is not easy to prepare for and something a lot of these players haven’t experienced.

At the same time, the Broncos defense is absolutely loaded. They lost some nice players up front, but the main guys are all back. The secondary is arguably the best in the NFL. Carolina’s offensive line couldn’t handle the pass rush in the Super Bowl. I don’t think it will be any different here.

Typically I’m a bit hesitant backing the team that just won the Super Bowl. However, this is a rare instance where I think the defending champ comes in with a chip on their shoulder. There’s some experts who are saying they won’t even make it back to the playoffs. This team has something to prove and what better way to do that than against the Panthers.

Lastly, you can’t underestimate home field advantage in these big prime time games. Especially when it comes to Denver. This is one of the more difficult places in the NFL to play. I’ll gladly take the field goal and the hook, but I think the Broncos win this one outright.