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5 Players Who Will Shine In Week 1 For The New England Patriots

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Week 1: 5 Players Who Will Shine For The New England Patriots

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

After a very interesting offseason, the New England Patriots enter the season once again as a legitimate Super Bowl contender. There are plenty of familiar faces back, but there were also many changes made, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

Wes Welker is now catching passes from Peyton Manning, Brandon Lloyd is looking for a job and Aaron Hernandez is trying not to spend the rest of his life behind bars. To help fill the void left by these pass catchers, the Patriots brought in wide receiver Danny Amendola via free agency. Amendola is a big injury risk, but the talent and upside is surely there. Also, the Patriots drafted Aaron Dobson in the 2nd round and Josh Boyce in the 4th back in April. Ahead of both Dobson and Boyce on the depth chart right now is undrafted rookie Kenbrell Thompkins, who has impressed all preseason. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is struggling with injuries and it is unknown when he will be ready to go. Zach Sudfeld, another undrafted rookie, has also been impressive and will try to help fill the tight end void. The names may be different, but I think we still see a very productive offense in New England this season.

Defensively, the Patriots seem to be getting better by the season. They could still use some work in the secondary, but their pass rushing is much better than in the past and they are very stout against the run. Also, New England had 41 takeaways last season, which was the second most in the NFL. They have guys who have a knack for causing turnovers, which is obviously a big plus. I expect the Patriots' defense to be solid this season.

The Patriots open the season on the road against the Buffalo Bills, who are welcoming in a new head coach in Doug Marrone and a new starting quarterback in first round rookie E.J. Manuel. While I do like the young offensive talent that the Bills have, especially running back C.J. Spiller, they are very unproven and the defense is uninspiring. I have a hard time seeing them knocking off the Patriots on Sunday.

As long as Tom Brady is the quarterback and Bill Belichick is the head coach in New England, this team will be competitive. Brady welcomes in many new targets this season, but I do not think they will miss a beat. They are serious contenders in the AFC and it all starts this Sunday against the Bills. Here are 5 players who will shine for the Patriots in Week 1.

Daniel is a writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @D_Schmelzer, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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Danny Amendola

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Many think that Amendola was brought in to be the replacement for Welker, but I think he can be more than a slot receiver. Amendola is bigger, faster and has better hands than Welker. He does well in the slot, but he can play the outside receiver position as well. Amendola is struggling with a groin injury, but it appears that he will be ready to go on Sunday. The Bills are going to be without Stephon Gilmore, who is their best cornerback, and safety Jairus Byrd will probably not play either. Brady seems to already have a great rapport with Amendola and I expect him to have a big game on Sunday.

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Tom Brady

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This one is a no-brainer. Brady is one of the best quarterbacks of all-time and I think he still has plenty left in the tank. He has performed well in the past with a new receiving corps, and I see no reason why it will be any different this time around. You can expect a great game out of Brady every time out, and this one will not be an exception.

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Chandler Jones

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The Patriots drafted defensive end Chandler Jones in the first round of the 2012 draft. He was solid as a rookie but only racked up six sacks in 13 games started. I like Jones' talent and most players take the biggest step in their careers in year two. I think that sack total will rise for Jones this season, and it starts on Sunday against an underwhelming Bills' offensive line.

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Zach Sudfeld

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Sudfeld was one of the biggest surprises of the 2013 preseason. He was one of Brady's favorite targets and proved that he belongs on a NFL field. Sudfeld is 6-foot-7 and controls his body very well. I see nobody on the Bills' defense that can stop him one-on-one. Until Gronkowski returns from injury, I think Sudfeld will be a key part of the Patriots' offense, especially in the red-zone. I would not be surprised to see Sudfeld score a touchdown or two on Sunday.

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Aqib Talib

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Aqib Talib is one of the most important members of the 2013 Patriots. He is a legitimate NFL corner on a team that has struggled to defend the pass. Talib took the New England defense to the next level when he arrived last season, and I think he continues to be a key part this year. Talib will probably be matched up with Stevie Johnson on Sunday. Johnson is a very important player for the Bills, and I think Talib will shut him down.