As one of the most storied franchises in the NFL, the Denver Broncos have been a part of some legendary week one games. Since 2000, the Broncos have had an outstanding 15-8 record in season openers, so with the 2023 season around the corner, it's time to look at the five best Broncos season openers of the 21st century in no particular order.
Top 5 Denver Broncos Week 1 games since 2000
2016: Broncos 21, Panthers 20
In a rematch of Super Bowl 50, the Broncos edged the Panthers 21-20 in a thrilling season opener in Denver. After an entire offseason to stew on the results of the previous year's Super Bowl, the Panthers came into this game with a vengeance.
Carolina marched down the field on its opening drive and went up 7-0 after Cam Newton found Kelvin Benjamin in the endzone. Denver fullback Andy Janovich eventually tied the game after scoring a touchdown on his first career carry, but led by Trevor Siemian in his first career start, the offense struggled to carry the momentum.
Much like the year prior, Denver leaned on its ferocious defense to keep the game close. Still riding the momentum of a Super Bowl championship, the Broncos' defense laid a bevy of monstrous hits- and personal fouls- on opposing Panthers. Darian Stewart's helmet-to-helmet hit on Cam Newton is perhaps the play this game is remembered most for, as it perfectly encapsulates the violent nature of this week one brawl.
The Denver offense eventually found its footing, but the Broncos still trailed 17-14 midway through the fourth. That was when Chris Harris Jr. intercepted Cam Newton deep in Panther territory. The pick set up a go-ahead touchdown that put the Broncos up 21-17. Carolina mustered another field goal and even got in range to attempt a game-winner in the final seconds, but Graham Gano's kick sailed wide to the left and Denver took the victory.
2016 didn't end particularly well for the Broncos, but week one will always be a classic. A good balance of offense and defense, a dramatic finish, a compelling story, the hype of opening night- this game had just about everything one could hope for in a football game.