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Pro Picks has enough trouble finding winners, outright and against the spread, during a normal season.

Our job might be more difficult than what the players and coaches are going through without a true pre-season, contact drills and cohesiveness.

Well, maybe not. But close.

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So excuse us if we struggle out of the gate on our way to, hopefully, something competitive with last season’s record (see below).

It all starts Thursday night with the Texans at the Chiefs. And, yes, with some fans (about 16,000, the hosts say). So it will be loud enough, if not quite raucous at Arrowhead Stadium.

Andy Reid finally has his Super Bowl ring and Patrick Mahomes has a baseball-type contract. Kansas City also appears to have a solid enough defence to go with its speed-of-light attack.

“We’ve done everything we possibly can to keep practices as fast as we can, but there’s nothing like a game,” Reid says. “You get a little bit of that in the pre-season. It’s still not as fast as the regular season, but at least you’re able to go through those things and knock the wrinkles out. Whether it’s the play-calling or the game-day procedure or actually playing in the game as a player, you’re kind of able to knock things out and smooth the wrinkles. So, we haven’t had that. I still think it’s going to be a good product.”

The Texans, meanwhile, rewarded their quarterback, Deshaun Watson, with a monster deal of his own, also well earned. But Watson doesn’t have his favourite target and, probably, Houston’s best player the past few years. Star receiver DeAndre Hopkins was traded to Arizona.

Houston, which held a 24-0 first-half lead in a playoff game at KC, is a 9 1-2-point underdog against the defending champions. Things figure to be pretty sloppy – not just in this game but everywhere. Still ...

CHIEFS, 30-20

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Nothing is more embarrassing than getting knocked out of a knockout pool in Week 1. We will start off with BUFFALO over the Jets.

Indianapolis (minus 8) at Jacksonville

Are the Jaguars going to be as bad as most everyone thinks? At least for this week, we hope so.

BEST BET, COLTS, 27-16

Seattle (minus 1 1-2) at Atlanta

Pro Picks really likes what the Seahawks are building, but this is a dangerous opening matchup.

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UPSET SPECIAL, FALCONS, 21-20

Green Bay (plus 2 1-2) at Minnesota

No home crowd could have a major impact here. Or not.

VIKINGS, 23-17

Tampa Bay (plus 3) at New Orleans

Tom Brady vs. Drew Brees is as spicy an opening matchup as the NFL could have come up with. Go with the Cajun spice.

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SAINTS, 26-20

Cleveland (plus 8 1-2) at Baltimore

The Browns could prove a lot here with a win. Or a lopsided loss.

RAVENS, 22-20

Dallas (minus 3) at Los Angeles Rams

Prime-time debut of Sofi Stadium – minus fans. The Cowboys are more talented.

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COWBOYS, 30-19

New York Jets (plus 6 1-2) at Buffalo

Hard to pick J-E-T-S when they have no No. 1 W-R-S.

BILLS, 20-9

Miami (plus 6) at New England

Dolphins are the only AFC East team that bothers Patriots, and that was with Brady. Yet ...

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PATRIOTS, 22-13

Arizona (plus 7) at San Francisco

We think the Cardinals will be lots of fun to watch in 2020. The 49ers will be, too.

49ERS, 30-27

Pittsburgh (minus 5) at New York Giants, Monday night

Big Ben’s return near the Big Apple. Expecting big things.

STEELERS, 30-16

Tennessee (pick-em) at Denver, Monday night

The Titans could be the AFC’s third-best team and here’s a chance to show it.

TITANS, 22-20

Philadelphia (minus 6) at Washington

If only the Eagles could stay healthy, it would be impressive how far they could get.

EAGLES, 17-13

Las Vegas (minus-3) at Carolina

The Raiders don’t do well on cross-country trips, but at least this one opens the season and is at a weak opponent.

RAIDERS, 21-16

Chicago (plus 3) at Detroit

Matt Patricia needs another good start – the Lions actually had one last year (2-0-1).

LIONS, 14-13

Los Angeles Chargers (minus 3 ) at Cincinnati

Joe Burrow hopes he can lead the Bungles back to being Bengals. Eventually he will.

BENGALS, 19-17

———

2019 RECORD

Season Totals: 138-123-5 against spread, 158-106-1 straight up.

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