The time has finally come; NFL football is officially back.
The first game of the 2016 season starts tonight with the Denver Broncos taking on the Carolina Panthers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. What a great way to kick off the regular season with the Super Bowl 50 rematch, in what should be a fun game to watch.
The Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, and San Diego Chargers will begin their seasons this Sunday, so let's get you up to speed with what's happened in the AFC West.
After finishing the 2015 campaign as the best team in the NFL, coming away with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, the Broncos will start their season against the Panthers. The Super Bowl 50 victory was former Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning's last game in the NFL, and the team was tasked with finding a new signal-caller this offseason.
Veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez was brought in and assumed to be the next quarterback in the Mile High City, but after training camp and the preseason, Denver opted to go a different direction. Second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian will be making his first NFL start tonight against the Super Bowl 50 runner up.
Siemian has plenty of weapons to utilize in the offense, from running back C.J. Anderson to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. On Wednesday, the Broncos signed Pro Bowl wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to a three-year contract extension, according to DenverBroncos.com. General Manager John Elway added on his Twitter account, "He plays with intensity & we love the way he competes."
There's no doubt that the Broncos defense will be stout, as they proved all last year to be one of the best in the league. The team inked star linebacker Von Miller to a six-year deal keeping him with the team through the 2021 season.
The reigning Super Bowl MVP will lead the defensive unit into battle against the athletic quarterback Cam Newton and Co. as they kick off the 2016 season at 5:30 p.m. PT in Denver.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are set to begin their regular season on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. PT against the San Diego Chargers. The early division battle is an important one, and although it's not an indication of how the season will pan out for either side, it'll be interesting to see how this affects both teams going forward.
Heading into Week 1, injuries still remain a concern for Kansas City as running back Jamaal Charles and linebacker Tamba Hali were limited in practice on Wednesday, according to Chiefs.com. Charles is coming off his second ACL injury in five years. Hali is also nursing a knee injury, and has dealt with knee swelling over the past two seasons.
In other news, the team dealt fourth-year cornerback Marcus Cooper to the Arizona Cardinals for an undisclosed draft pick. During his tenure with the team he recorded three interceptions and 61 tackles.
While the Chiefs remain hindered at certain positions, Head Coach Andy Reid has continued to develop the squad. The team started the 2015 season 1-5 before rattling off a 10-game win streak. In a talented division with several strong competitors, it'll be interesting to see how the Chiefs perform this year.
San Diego Chargers
When contract negotiations were completed between rookie defensive end Joey Bosa and the Chargers, it was questioned whether or not he would be ready for Week 1. This theory has become a reality, General Manager Tom Telesco confirmed Thursday that the rookie would most likely miss Sunday's game. Bosa sat out of the team's practice on Wednesday with a minor hamstring injury, according to NFL.com.
Bosa has yet to suit up for the Bolts in pads, and if he played Sunday it would be his first time in full pads. The sense around the organization was that Bosa wouldn't be ready to play come Week 1 anyway. He missed significant time with his teammates and coaches during his contract holdout and needs to be caught up to speed.
The highly valued defensive end most likely won't take the field on Sunday, considering the team shouldn't risk injuring him more. It remains to be seen when Bosa will take the field, but until he does, he'll continue to keep working with the team to develop.
The Bolts will travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium this Sunday at 10:00 a.m. PT.