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One of the spoils of being champion: The Patriots will kick off the NFL season on Sept. 7 by hosting the Chiefs.

New England earned that honor with its record comeback to beat Atlanta in the Super Bowl. Its opening opponent in a Thursday night game won the AFC West last season.

The Falcons visit Chicago in their first game.

The rest of the opening weekend will feature what seems like a yearly occurrence, with Dallas hosting the Giants on Sunday night. They finished 1-2 in the NFC East in 2016.

On Monday night, New Orleans is at Minnesota, followed by the Chargers, in their first game representing Los Angeles since 1960, at Denver.

Five games will be held abroad, beginning with Baltimore vs. Jacksonville in London on Sept. 24. The next week, Miami hosts New Orleans. In Week 7, the Rams host the Cardinals, followed the next week by Minnesota vs. Cleveland.

New England is the visitor against Oakland at Mexico City on Nov. 19.

Extra points

An angry and emotional Eli Manning has denied providing fake game-used memorabilia to a collector, insisting he will be vindicated.

Giants quarterback Manning addressed the accusations after a plaintiff in a 2014 lawsuit recently filed a motion to compel testimony that included an email from Manning to a team equipment manager asking for two helmets that could pass as game-used items.

... Cardell Hayes, the man who killed retired Saints star Will Smith and wounded his wife during a traffic dispute last year was sentenced to 25 years in prison for manslaughter.

... Aaron Hernandez’s family wants to donate his brain to science, but Massachusetts officials are refusing to release it despite turning over the rest of his body to a funeral home, the former NFL star’s lawyer said.

Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for murder, apparently killed himself in his prison cell on Wednesday.

... Khalil Mack had his fifth-year contract option exercised by the Raiders, presumably keeping him with the team through the 2018 season.

... Bills offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio was taken to a hospital for observation after police found him without any pants on in a suburban Buffalo field.

Erie County Sheriff’s spokesman Scott Zylka said deputies were responding to a complaint of a suspicious person when they came upon Kouandjio around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Zylka said the player was cooperative in answering deputies’ questions, and added no charges have been filed.

It’s unclear what Kouandjio was doing or how he got into the field, located about a 5-minute drive from Bills headquarters. Kouandjio was not present for the team’s voluntary veteran minicamp.

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