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Broncos like Super Bowl rematch, five prime-time games for 2016 NFL schedule

There's a lot to like about the 2016 schedule for the defending Super Bowl champs.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

How sweet will it be for Mile High fans to watch the Denver Broncos host their Super Bowl 50 victims in a Thursday night season opener on Sept. 8?

About as sweet as it will be for the Broncos themselves to go up against a motivated and revenge-filled Panthers team. Just imagine how a prime-time Mile High crowd is going to welcome Cam Newton.

Head coach Gary Kubiak was diplomatic, recognizing perhaps that his Broncos team lost a few more players from its Super Bowl squad than the Panthers. But that "Orange Rush" defense is still mostly intact.

"We're opening up with a great football team that won 17 games and that we played last. There is a lot of familiarity there with them. It's a tough schedule," Kubiak said, adding he thinks the opener with the Panthers is "great. 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."

Although likely motivated to have a better showing this time around, Cam Newton is probably the one guy not too excited about the rematch.

In fact, he's so discombobulated from the Super Bowl still that he can't type coherently in attempting to call this a revenge game:

But that Super Bowl rematch isn't all there is to like about the Broncos' 2016 schedule just announced Thursday night.

A Week 11 bye plus home games against the Panthers, Patriots and Texans makes for a great schedule.

"I think it's a great schedule for our fans. If you look at the home schedule, there are a lot of great football teams coming in," said John Elway. "The bye week falls well for us - late in the year. We have kind of a semi-bye when we have San Diego on Thursday night (Week 6). We have Houston on the following Monday night, so we have a break there. I think it's a good schedule."

For the fifth year in a row, the Broncos will have five prime-time games, including Sunday night contests at AFC West rivals Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs.

C.J. Anderson probably isn't the only one shocked that the Broncos' home game against the Patriots Dec. 18 isn't on primetime, but the Northern California native and former Cal Bear is happy to be playing under the night's lights for the Oakland game.

But the prime-time matchup many Broncos fans - and players - will have circled on their calendars is the Monday Night Football contest at home against Brock Osweiler and the Texans in Week 7.

The media hype that week just might get out of hand.

Elway was equally diplomatic about that matchup.

"It will be nice to have Brock come back here," Elway said of the quarterback who apparently never spoke with the Broncos about the team's counter offer to stay in Denver. "They are a good football team. They are going to be a team that's going to compete for the AFC. With Indy coming in, New England coming in, Carolina coming in and Houston coming in...we have a lot of top-notch teams coming in."

Brandon Marshall is not only looking forward to that Texans game, but he apparently has a very personal "revenge game" in mind in Week 13:

A photo posted by Brandon Marshall (@bmarshh54) on

The Broncos' prime-time game at Kansas City Week 16 falls on Christmas Day, which should make for a great Christmas gift when the Broncos make it a 2-0 run against the Chiefs next season.

Kubiak isn't sure his wife will like the idea of the Broncos playing on the holiday, but the coach knows it's part of the game.

"I've done that many times before," Kubiak said. "It will be a tough place to play. We always have great games there."

And if you're wondering whether Mark Sanchez - who just might be the starting quarterback in September - is gearing up for the undoubtedly intense Super Bowl rematch opener and 14th toughest strength of schedule - you shouldn't be: