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Rick Zamperin: Saints will go boom, Bills will go bust in 2018

Lincoln Financial Field will host the NFL's 2018 season opener between the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons.
Lincoln Financial Field will host the NFL's 2018 season opener between the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons. Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kickoff to the 2018 NFL season arrives Thursday night and millions of football fans are licking their chops in anticipation of what’s to come.

And as with every new season, there are a ton of questions to be answered.

Will the Philadelphia Eagles repeat as Super Bowl champions? (I say no) Will the Cleveland Browns actually win a game this season? (Yes, it will happen) And which teams will be the biggest busts and surprises? (see below)

Not surprisingly, the New England Patriots are the early favourites to win Super Bowl LIII (that’s 53 for the Roman numerally challenged) even though five-time champion Tom Brady is 41.

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Oddsmakers have the Eagles, Los Angeles Rams and Minnesota Vikings not far behind, with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints the only other teams with odds that are better than 20/1.

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Looking for a Super Bowl longshot? Look no further than the AFC East, where VegasInsider.com lists the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins as 150/1 underdogs.

I’d hate to be a fan of one of those teams. Wait a minute, I am. (Dolphins, *sigh*)

The team I think that will be the biggest bust is the Buffalo Bills. Sorry Bills fans, this isn’t my fandom for Miami coming through, I just don’t see Buffalo winning anywhere close to the nine games they won in 2017. I’m thinking the Bills win more, like, five. Hello Nathan Peterman.

The Houston Texans are my biggest movers in 2018. After winning only four games last year, the team will be bolstered by a healthy J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson and could be a 10-win club.

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OK, now on to the real fun part — selecting the next Super Bowl champion.

The AFC is once again much easier to whittle down because until New England is toppled, they will remain the team to beat. Pittsburgh is right there, and you can make a case for Kansas City and Jacksonville to go all the way to Atlanta on Feb. 3.

The NFC is much more wide open. The Eagles, Vikings, Saints, Rams and Packers all have a legitimate shot at raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy. But then again, before last season, who picked Philly to win it all?

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There are so many things that can happen between now and the frigid February that will be here before you know it, but I think the New Orleans Saints will beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl LIII.