If you walk into the bathroom today, turn off the lights, light a candle and whisper, “there’s no season like football season,” three times you’ll be rewarded with a Carolina Panthers game later tonight.
No it’s not magic, but it feels magical. The transformation is complete. Football has come and tonight the Denver Broncos play host to the Carolina Panthers.
The homecoming of butts on couches and balls on television for Panthers fans comes with the bitter memories that the Lombardi Trophy did not make it south of the Mason-Dixon. Even more sour is the Vegas betting lines for the 2016-2017 season opener showing the Panthers as favorites this time around with a 3 point spread.
Despite the appearance Ron Rivera will be the first to say that this is not a rematch between two Super Bowl teams and his sentiment holds true when you look at the transformation that both sides underwent after the Super Bowl black out.
The Broncos will be first team since 2001 to trot out a new quarterback in the opening game after winning a Super Bowl. Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak will start Trevor Siemian, a 2015 7th Round Draft pick who has never thrown a regular season pass.
As the Broncos’ Siemian makes his progressions on the field he will see a similar transition in the Panthers. There will be a cornerback wearing the number 24 for the Panthers, but that won’t be the infamous trash-talker Josh Norman. Instead rookie James Bradberry will don the familiar number opposite of his fellow rookie counterpart Daryl Worley in “Thieves Avenue”.
Ron Rivera is no newbie to the game and knows the fire he’s throwing his rookies into against the Broncos. “I would anticipate that they would attack them. If you have young guys out there, people are going to attack them. That just makes sense,” Rivera said Monday.
Rivera was hesitant to name the rookies starters for the game Wednesday but both received significant snaps with the first team in practice and are expected to see plenty of time in tandem on the field. Rivera says that the corners who start, “will be a decision you guys see on the field,” leaving the possibility that Bené Benwikere or Robert McClain get the nod.
Rivera noted though that by the end of the game both these rookies will be thrown into the fire to learn what it’s like to transition from a college athlete into an NFL player.
Again the transition seems magical, but in reality it’s just football season.
Broncos host the Panthers Tonight at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.