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After coming up just short in a Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the New England Patriots will begin their quest for their sixth Super Bowl title when the 2018 season kickoffs against the Houston Texans this Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

In what will be a rematch of last season’s thrilling 36-33 Patriots victory, Tom Brady will look to once again outduel Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson, and find an answer for a Texan defense that can give a team fits if given space to attack.

And including postseason head-to-heads, this will be the seventh meeting between the Patriots and Texans since Jan. 2013, and with the Patriots having won the last six meetings and with four of those victories coming at The House That Brady Built.

Here are the 98.5 The Sports Hub staff’s picks for how it will all shake down Sunday afternoon in Foxboro…

Ty Anderson (Writer/columnist, 985TheSportsHub.com)

The Patriots are typically slow starters, and they had massive trouble with the Texans’ Deshaun Watson last year. So much so that they needed big time plays from Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks in the closing moments of last year’s epic final. Both those players are gone and Tom Brady seems extremely limited in targets he can trust if this game turns into another shootout. Also: At some point, don’t the Texans have to beat the Patriots to be considered legitimate? Week 1, with the Patriots still very much figuring out what they have on both offense and defense this season, seems like their ‘time.’

Texans 31, Patriots 23.

Christian Arcand (Co-host, The Adam Jones Show)

I don’t think we will see the same kind of offensive fireworks we saw when these two teams met up last season, but I think Brady will be able to dissect Houston’s defense when he needs to. I anticipate a shaky start for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson but I think he will rebound later in the game and make this closer than it will appear to be in the first half. Houston’s defense will get stops and the Patriots defense will have their moments, but overall I think this will be a win for New England that will have Pats fans sweating out the fourth quarter.

Patriots 24, Texans 20.

Matt Dolloff (Writer/producer, 985TheSportsHub.com)

Not only are the Patriots being excessively doubted entering this season, the Texans are also coming in a little overrated. Not sure why everyone is just accepting that Deshaun Watson is going to get right back to lighting the world on fire when he played only six games last season, he’s coming off a torn ACL, and the league has some tape to help prepare for him. And while J.J. Watt remains a phenomenal player until proven otherwise, his injuries have to catch up to him at some point too. His next regular season sack against Tom Brady will be his first. Brady still has enough weapons to score at a high level, while the Patriots’ defensive line against the Texans’ offensive line is the biggest mismatch in the game. Not a blowout, but a comfortable win for the Patriots that will have us wondering what we were all so worried about – for a day, anyway.

Patriots 31, Texans 17.

Adam Jones (The Adam Jones Show)

On paper, Houston is formidable. Dynamic quarterback. Dominant receiver. Imposing defense. But I just don’t trust Bill O’Brien. His conservative ways have done him in against the Patriots before and they will again. It’ll be a grind for Tom Brady and the offense, but the Pats start off Week 1 in the win column.

Patriots 20, Texans 17.

Tony Massarotti (Felger and Mazz)

Are the Pats as loaded as they have been in other years? No. But they don’t stink. So can we stop with the overreactions and panic? Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus haven’t played in almost a year. Texans won’t be sharp, either.

Patriots 27, Texans 17.

Matt McCarthy (98.5 The Sports Hub)

If the last few years have told us anything, we know the Patriots have a tendency to start slow. With few reliable options at wide receiver, I expect the Patriots offense to struggle against Houston’s stout defense. Deshaun Watson gave the Pats defense fits last year and I expect more of the same on Sunday. Until the Patriots prove they can contain mobile quarterbacks, I have no reason to feel good about their ability to stop someone as dynamic as Watson, even if he is coming off a knee injury.

Texans 27, Patriots 23.

Mike ‘Sarge’ Riley (98.5 The Sports Hub)

It was a nail-biter the last time these two teams met in Foxboro. I can see that happening again, especially without Julian Edelman. But Tom Brady will have to rely on Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan and the run game here. And for Houston, Deshaun Watson has DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller as his two top targets. But I just don’t see the Patriots losing two straight home openers. And a “Sarge Stat” for you: The Patriots are 14-2 all-time in home openers at Gillette. They get No. 15 on Sunday.

Patriots 31, Texans 27.

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