5. 2008: Broncos 41, Raiders 14
Giving this game a shoutout over Peyton Manning's seven-touchdown masterpiece in 2013's season opener feels criminal, but this 41-14 drubbing of the Raiders was such a sensational experience it has to be included on this list. Maybe I'm too nostalgic, or maybe that 2013 game has been talked about enough, nonetheless, I think this 2008 Monday Night smackdown in Oakland stands out as one the best week one Broncos games of the 21st century.
After a disappointing but promising 2007 campaign, the Broncos were looking to make a drastic leap forward with its talented young core in 2008. In a week one showdown with a bitter division foe, the Broncos seemed to have taken that leap.
Even without star wideout Brandon Marshall, the Denver offense pulverized the Oakland defense. Rookie receiver Eddie Royal hauled in nine receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut. Jay Cutler threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns, and in typical Shanahan fashion, four different running backs combined for 123 yards on the ground with three touchdowns.
The Raiders were held scoreless until the fourth quarter, and by then, the game was already decided. Unlike the other games on this list, this one was only exciting to Broncos fans. There was no dramatic finish, nor was there a critical story to follow. It was a simple beatdown from start to finish, and Broncos Country enjoyed every second.
No one knew at the time, but 2008 would be Mike Shanahan's final year as the Broncos head coach. The team was 8-5 heading into its final three games and needed just one more win to secure a playoff birth. Denver failed to grab that win, and Shanahan was fired after the season. It was an unceremonious end to Shanahan's 14-year run as Broncos head coach. At the very least, 2008 left behind an absolute gem of a game, a near-perfect outing by the Denver Broncos against the dreaded Raiders. What more could you want out of a week one game?