Chiefs-Patriots opener a near certainty

If the Chiefs-Pats game, which will be played at Gillette Stadium, does indeed turn out to be the National Football League opener, it would be a surprise for those like me that thought the opening game would be a Super Bowl rematch between the Pats and Atlanta Falcons.

That team would be the Kansas City Chiefs, whom The Boston Globe's Ben Volin reported "almost certainly" will be New England's Week 1 opponent.

The NFL's 2017 regular-season schedule is set to be announced later this week with the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots hosting the opening game on September 7.

We already know that the Falcons are on New England's home schedule this year via the previous list of opponents that was released, but the highly-anticipated rematch won't kick off the new year.

The Patriots' home schedule also will include games against the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans and Los Angeles Chargers, plus the three AFC East clubs.

The two teams finished as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the AFC last season, although an upset win by Pittsburgh at Kansas City kept the Chiefs from advancing to face the Pats in the playoffs.

The Chiefs defense should be an excellent test for the Patriots explosive offense, which will feature trade acquisition Brandin Cooks and Rob Gronkowski, who is returning from a back injury.

However, at home, he has gone a ridiculous 101-17, throwing for 255.4 yards per game (30,132 in total) with 220 touchdowns and just 59 interceptions (in 4,080 pass attempts) for a rating of 98.1.

That kind of versatility is invaluable in New England and has warranted heavy investment at the position in the past.

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  • Julie Sanders