BOSTON (CBS) — It’s finally time for football in New England.

Though the Patriots made all their fans happy last February with a historically epic Super Bowl victory, they’ve all been eager to see the team return to action over the past six months. Fortunately, the wait is just about over.

And when the Patriots do kick off against the Chiefs on Thursday night in front of a national audience, here’s what our experts expect to happen on the field.

Steve Burton, WBZ-TV

In every game the Patriots play, they’ll have a bull’s-eye on their back, starting with Kansas City. The Chiefs were 12-4 a year ago and the Pats have the utmost respect for them. But Tom Brady can’t wait to try out his new weapon on Thursday night. From Brandin Cooks to Rex Burkhead to Rob Gronkowski being back. It’s a banner night.

Patriots 27, Chiefs 17

Dan Roche, WBZ-TV

The Patriots begin life without Julian Edelman on Thursday night, but it shouldn’t slow then down too much. And, they have a healthy Gronk, which will create mismatches everywhere else. I also think the Pats will utilize what they feel is the best running back matchup vs KC — whether that’s Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, James White or Mike Gillislee — running he ball or catching it out of the backfield.

Alex Smith can move the ball effectively, but KC will be without lead back Spencer Ware. I think this is a game where the Pats secondary and linebacker corps will need to play well. Expect to see a lot of Patrick Chung on Travis Kelce. Tyreke Hill’s speed will be another weapon for the Pats D and special teams to deal with.

Kansas City is a solid team, but the Pats should have the edge at home on Opening Night.

Patriots 31, Chiefs 20 

Levan Reid, WBZ-TV

Always hard to predict the first game of the season. I have no idea what the Pats or the Chiefs are going to look like.

This is what I do know: The Pats are playing at home on banner night. Tom Brady is still under center and he can make anything happen. I’m expecting a pair of long touchdowns from No. 12 to his newest weapon, receiver Brandin Cooks.

Defensively, this Pats secondary has a chance to be the best in the league.

Patriots 31, Chiefs 17

Adam Kaufman, 98.5 The Sports Hub/WBZ NewsRadio 1030

The Patriots are prepared to raise their fifth championship banner in front of commissioner Roger Goodell, as 70,000 fans are waiving towels of his red-nosed face. It’s hard not to wonder if the Chiefs will even get on the board in Foxboro’s NFL opener. Tom Brady may be 40 and may be without his favorite receiver in Julian Edelman, but he’s also 8-0 with an average of 26.8 points a game in his career in home season-openers. Along the way, the future Hall of Famer has passed for 19 touchdowns, just three interceptions, 2,098 yards, and posted a 109.5 QB rating. This one could be over at halftime, but it’s more likely New England pulls away late. Ratings will be there regardless. Football’s back!

Patriots 34, Chiefs 13

Mike “Sarge” Riley, 98.5 The Sports Hub/WBZ NewsRadio 1030

Welcome back football! Tom Brady and Dont’a Hightower each said this week the season opener is always the hardest one, but I think the Pats will ride the success of their home opening record (14-1 at Gillette Stadium) into Thursday night. It won’t be easy, but who said it should be?

Patriots 27, Chiefs 19

Tune in to Thursday’s season opener on 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship station of the New England Patriots. Coverage begins at 5:30pm with Patriots Preview with kickoff set for 8:30pm. Tune in to three hours of postgame coverage following the game on 98.5FM, and catch Patriots 5th Quarter on myTV38 to see Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s press conferences live! 

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