The teams will meet Sept. 8 in a nationally televised Thursday night opener in Denver, according to a league source.
The full NFL schedule will be released later Thursday night.
Denver defeated Carolina 24-10 in Super Bowl 50 in February. Linebacker Von Miller was named the game's Most Valuable Player after collecting 2.5 sacks against quarterback Cam Newton. Two of those resulted in fumbles that led to touchdowns.
The Panthers, who went 15-1 in the regular season, return most of the team that has won the NFC South the past three years. The Broncos have lost several key players this offseason, including quarterback Peyton Manning, who retired last month.