Opening kickoff is just two weeks away now and there are some interesting matchups the NFL has setup for the first week.

Carolina Panthers @ Denver Broncos - Thursday 9/8 7:30

This is obviously an interesting matchup because it was Super Bowl 50 but there are other factors as well. Who will be the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos and how will that change Denver's game plan offensively? Trevor Siemian has taken over the starting job but as Gary Kubiak has eluded, there's still competition from Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch.

We already know about Cam Newton and the offensive firepower but did Denver show the blueprints on how to stop Superman and the boys? It's more likely that the Broncos defense is really just that good but teams have a scheme to mimic now and that could cause problems for Carolina. Defensively, how will Carolina be against the pass after losing Pro Bowl corner Josh Norman to the Redskins? It's likely they will (or should) play seven or eight in the box and make whoever is playing quarterback for Denver beat them through the air.

Denver rushed 411 times last season and averaged 4.2 yards per rush. Another interesting position battle is bound to happen at running back again for the Broncos. C.J. Anderson had 55 less caries than Ronnie Hillman during the regular season but had 23 for 90 yards and a touchdown during Super Bowl 50.

Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Jets - Sunday 9/11 Noon

I think this is my favorite matchup during week one simply because both of these teams tend to get overlooked and be underrated. The Bengals were 12-4 last season and lost a barnburner in the wild card game against Pittsburgh without quarterback Andy Dalton. Had Dalton played and the Bengals avoided their boneheaded penalties or Jeremy Hill doesn't cough up the football, the outcome could have been different. Also who doesn't enjoy watching the physicality of the hated Vontaze Burfict, Adam "Pacman" Jones and the Bengals defense.

The Jets just resigned quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick but before that they went out and got one of the most versatile running backs around in Matt Forte. Add him alongside receivers Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Fitzpatrick has some serious weapons. Marshall had 109 receptions last season for 1,502 yards with 14 touchdowns but what was most impressive were Marshall's insane catches with defenders hanging on him. Adding Forte to the mix could take away from some of Marshall's touches, or it could open Marshall up for more big plays.

New England Patriots @ Arizona Cardinals - Sunday 9/11 7:30

The Arizona Cardinals had the second best record in the NFL last season after going 13-3 but got blown out in the NFC Championship game against the Panthers. A game in which Carson Palmer threw four interceptions and lost two fumbles. Defensively the Cardinals were terrible too, they gave up a whopping 49 points. However, the Cardinals will get safety Tyrann Mathieu back after suffering a torn ACL last season. They also got defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche in the draft and obtained outside linebacker Chandler Jones from the Patriots to help solidify the trenches.

New England obviously has their own issues with Tom Brady's four game suspension being upheld by the courts. It's now up to backup Jimmy Garoppolo to lead the Patriots four weeks until Brady can return to the field. On a positive note, New England's defense showed that it can hold their own and not force the offense to score 35 points a game. A defense that was ranked 10th in points per game and 9th in yards per game last season.

See Also: