(The Sports Xchange) - The 2016 NFL season will kick off with a Super Bowl 50 rematch between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers on Thursday, Sept. 8, at Sports Authority Field in Denver.
The 17-week, 256-game regular-season schedule, which concludes on Jan. 1 with 16 division games, was released by the National Football League on Thursday.
The Broncos-Panthers game is the first Super Bowl rematch on the opening weekend of the season since 1970 when the Kansas City Chiefs and the Minnesota Vikings met.
”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.”
Also on the opening weekend schedule is a clash between conference championship game participants New England and Arizona on Sunday night, Sept. 11.
The Patriots have not played the Cardinals on the road since 2004 and never at University of Phoenix Stadium, where New England has appeared twice in Super Bowls.
In Week 2, the Rams will play their first regular-season game in Los Angeles since moving back from St. Louis after last season, facing off against the Seattle Seahawks in a Sunday afternoon start.
The Minnesota Vikings open their new U.S. Bank Stadium in a Sunday night game during Week 2 against the Green Bay Packers. Minnesota is seeking back-to-back NFC North titles, which was last accomplished by the Vikings in 2008-09.
The annual Thanksgiving tripleheader on Thursday, Nov. 24, features the Vikings against the Detroit Lions in the opener, the Washington Redskins at the Dallas Cowboys and then the Indianapolis Colts playing host to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the nightcap.
Most Week 16 games will be played on Christmas Eve with the exception of the Steelers-Baltimore Ravens and the Chiefs-Broncos games on Christmas Day, which falls on a Sunday.
The league’s three games in London will be the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Colts on Oct. 2 at Wembley Stadium, the Rams against the New York Giants on Oct. 23 at Twickenham Stadium, and the Cincinnati Bengals against the Redskins on Oct. 30 at Wembley.
On Nov. 21, the Oakland Raiders and the Houston Texans will travel to Mexico City for the first Monday night game to be played outside the United States.
Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes