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NFL Week 1 picks: Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots predictions

Leigh Copson in NFL 7 Sep 2017
  • Get our predictions for the opening game on Week 1 of the NFL season
  • Defending Super Bowl champions New England begin season at home to Kansas City

Just when we thought the story of the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era in New England could not become much more historic, the legendary Patriots pair orchestrated the most spectacular comeback in the history of the Super Bowl back in February.

21-3 down at half-time and 28-3 down in the third quarter, there appeared to be no way back for the New England Patriots as they took on the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. For most clubs that would be the case, but not for New England. A huge turnover swung momentum in their favour and the Patriots took full advantage, rattling off 19 unanswered points to force overtime, and in the extra period Brady & Co. completed easily the greatest comeback in NFL history as James White dived in for the game-winning touchdown.

Brady and Belichick lifted the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the fifth time in their tenure with New England and immediately the bookmakers made the Patriots the favourites to go all the way once again this season. And let’s be honest, you can hardly blame them. While New England have not boasted the services of many elite, big-name players over the years, they have a system that seemingly brings success no matter who you plug into it. And with Brady and Belichick back for another year, it would surprise no-one to see the pair orchestrate another Super Bowl success.

But before the pair can even think about another Super Bowl ring there is the small matter of successfully negotiating the regular season, which begins with a Thursday Night Football matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The bookmakers are not expecting Super Bowl success for the Chiefs this season – they are as long as 33/1 – but they are predicting a return to the post-season for Kansas City, who won the AFC West with a 12-5 record before dropping a close one to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Divisional Round. They will return with a defense that allowed less than 20 points per game while racking up turnovers, but on offense there are some question marks following some off-season moves in the draft and in free agency, so it is hard to get too excited about Andy Reid’s men.

I certainly do not fancy their chances of making a winning start to the season. Simply put, New England are the better team and they will want to celebrate raising their latest Super Bowl banner in style. The absence of Julian Edelman is a blow, but Brady still has plenty of options at wide-out and in the backfield, and that depth should ensure they have openings to keep the ball moving and find the endzone. This Kansas City offense will not be able to match that pace.

And for my second recommendation, I am backing Brandin Cooks to find the endzone in his first competitive appearance for New England. The former New Orleans Saint has earned high praise from Brady during pre-season and his importance to this offense has almost certainly increased following that injury to Edelman. Cooks could see plenty of looks on Thursday night as the Chiefs double up on Rob Gronkowski and pay close attention to those diverse Patriots running backs, and that could result in him scoring a touchdown at some point in the game.

NFL picks for Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots:

Winning margin: Patriots by 1-13 points
Anytime touchdown scorer: Brandin Cooks (5/4 with Paddy Power)

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