The Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens played the first game of the NFL season on Sept. 5. However, the Broncos and Ravens are more interested in playing the last game of the season five months from now. Although Baltimore played the final game of last season, Denver looked more like a Super Bowl winner in its 49-27 victory.
The Broncos hope that Peyton Manning’s record-tying seven touchdowns will set the tone for a record setting season and a championship. Yet there’s no guarantee that Manning and Denver will be this good 20 weeks from now. Back in Sept. 2012, no one saw the Ravens winning the Super Bowl either, at least not in the way they ultimately did.
It has become a tradition for the Super Bowl champion to play in the NFL’s annual Thursday night kickoff game -- even if the champion Ravens didn’t host this year’s opener. But it certainly isn’t a tradition for the year’s eventual Super Bowl winner to play in the first game, as it has only happened one time since 2002.
Here is a list of the teams that won the season opening kickoff in the last 11 years, and what happened to them afterwards -- which the Broncos will need to take as a cautionary tale.