NFL Soup|Tuesday, May 21, 2013

2013 NFL Picks: Week One Writer Picks 

The NFL is back.

Week One finally gets underway Thursday evening, when the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens head west to take on the Broncos in Denver in a rematch of last season’s thrilling AFC Divisional Round matchup.

Our experts will be here each and every week to pick every game of the season, with NFL Soup bragging rights on the line. Big deal, I know.

So, let’s get the party started, America.

Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos

Kevin Roberts: Denver Broncos – Denver is at home and the Ravens are without way too many key players from a year ago. They won’t be able to keep up with Peyton Manning and co.

Keet Bailey: Denver Broncos  Peyton Manning at home gets the Broncos’ upcoming season started with a bang. 

Taylor Smith: Denver Broncos  Baltimore still has the better defensive team, especially with Von Miller and Champ Bailey out for Denver, but they’ll still struggle to stop that high-flying offense. 

Gregg Ring: Denver Broncos  The Ravens will have some growing pains with all the new faces and the Super Bowl hangover won’t help. Peyton Manning and the Broncos win this one easily.

Terrence Kirker: Denver Broncos  Have to think the Broncos want revenge. Everyone healthy to start the year so advantage: Denver. 

Jonathan Pollak: Denver Broncos – The league has been plastering Joe Flacco posters all over Denver in an effort for Peyton and co. to “get revenge” on Baltimore. Elvis Dumervil could be an X-factor, though, now that he’s switched sides.

Ben Thaler: Denver Broncos  This year’s Ravens are not the same team that won the Super Bowl, and that will be made clear when they run into Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. 

Brian Thorne: Denver Broncos  Peyton Manning redeems himself and has a near-career game against a Ravens defense that isn’t as good as it used to be. Joe Flacco can’t replicate his postseason magic and plays like the average QB he is despite his monster contract. 

Michael Cellars: Denver Broncos – The Ravens are celebrating their Super Bowl championship on the road, in the place where it truly kicked-off. Manning and co. get their revenge in the season opener. 

Consensus: Denver Broncos (9-0)

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills

Kevin Roberts: New England Patriots The Bills are beyond screwed even if E.J. Manuel starts and C.J. Spiller has the game of his life. 

Keet Bailey: New England Patriots  Patriots defense against E.J. Manuel? LOL.

Taylor Smith: New England Patriots – I think the Bills are on their way, but they’ve still got a long way to go. 

Gregg Ring: New England Patriots – 

Terrence Kirker: New England Patriots Who’s playing QB for Buffalo?

Jonathan Pollak: New England Patriots – Consistently great team vs. consistently terrible team that may not have an NFL-caliber quarterback? Ick.

Ben Thaler: New England Patriots – Say what you will about the Patriots’ depleted receiving corps, I’ll take Tom Brady and Bill Belichick over E.J. Manuel and Doug Marrone any day.

Brian Thorne: New England Patriots – Brady and Belichick against a depleted secondary and rookie QB. This one is over eariy. 

Michael Cellars: New England Patriots – Against the Bills, it doesn’t really matter who Tom Brady is throwing to. 

Consensus: New England Patriots (9-0)

Cincinnati Bengals Chicago Bears

Kevin Roberts: Chicago Bears – Andy Dalton routinely chokes against tough defenses and this one is Chicago’s home opener. Yeah, he’s in trouble. 

Keet Bailey: Chicago Bears – The Bears’ defense is too tough at Soldier Field. 

Taylor Smith: Cincinnati Bengals – Who, exactly, on that Chicago offensive line is supposed to be keeping Geno Atkins off of Jay Cutler’s back?

Gregg Ring: Cincinnati Bengals – Fresh off an appearance on Hard Knocks, the Bengals should go on the road and handle the Bears. The Bengals’ D should get after Cutler and slow down Forte. Andy Dalton will be able to make enough happen to get it done. 

Terrence Kirker: Chicago Bears – Both offenses should be good this year, but the Bears’ defense is that much better. 

Jonathan Pollak: Cincinnati Bengals – Da Bears’ new offense could be good, but that awful O-line versus an excellent Bengals defense is asking for trouble.

Ben Thaler: Cincinnati Bengals – This is gonna be a tight one with both teams boasting an improved offensive attack. In the end, though, I think the intimidating Bengals defense led by Geno Atkins front and center will prove to much for Jay Cutler and the Bears. 

Brian Thorne: Chicago Bears – The game should be close, so big plays will make the difference, and in that area, the Bears’ defense will come up bigger than the Bengals’. They match-up well and feature very similar weapons but home field advantage decides this one. 

Michael Cellars: Cincinnati Bengals – I have high hopes for the Bengals this season, as long as Andy Dalton pulls it together. I think the Bears have a few questions to still answer, and so they lose a nail-biter to begin the year. 

Consensus: Cincinnati Bengals (5-4)

Miami Dolphins Cleveland Browns

Kevin Roberts: Cleveland Browns – I like both of these teams as young squads on the rise, but I’ll take the Brownies at home. 

Keet Bailey: Miami Dolphins – The battle of the second-year quarterbacks ends closely in favor of the ‘Phins. 

Taylor Smith: Cleveland Browns – For some reason I picked the Browns to finish in second place in their division, so they’d better beat the freaking Dolphins at home. 

Gregg Ring: Cleveland Browns – This is actually an intriguing matchup between two teams that are up-and-coming. Look for the underrated Cleveland D to win it for the Browns. 

Terrence Kirker: Cleveland Browns – The Dolphins look confused and don’t seem to be in sync. Trent Richardson should be the difference.

Jonathan Pollak: Miami Dolphins – The Browns should improve this season, but aren’t there yet. Ryan Tannehill and Lamar Miller do just enough.

Ben Thaler: Cleveland Browns – I think Cleveland’s improved defense along with the monster that is Trent Richardson will take down the Fish in Week One, despite Brandon Weeden throwing two picks. 

Brian Thorne: Cleveland Browns – Trent Richardson runs enough to give the Dolphins’ defense fits, opening up holes in the passing game. Watch for TE Jordan Cameron to exploit linebackers as they focus on stopping the run. 

Michael Cellars: Cleveland Browns – I even have high hopes for the Browns (which is, for them, a .500 season) under new management. Too much Trent Richardson for the Dolphins to handle in this one. 

Consensus: Cleveland Browns (7-2)

Minnesota Vikings Detroit Lions

Kevin Roberts: Detroit Lions – If the Detroit D we saw in preseason is legit, they could be a problem. They have the home advantage and Minny’s secondary is mincemeat. 

Keet Bailey: Detroit Lions – The Lions, Ford Field…Greatest Show on Turf Part II?

Taylor Smith: Detroit Lions – I’ve never been a believer in Christian Ponder, and I’m not starting now. 

Gregg Ring: Detroit Lions – Calvin Johnson and Adrian Peterson might rack-up 500 yards between the two of them in this game. I wouldn’t could on a whole lot of defense, and Stafford is my bet in a shootout over Sam Ponder’s husband.

Terrence Kirker: Detroit Lions – Tough call here, but I think Reggie Bush is the X-factor in a high-scoring close game. 

Jonathan Pollak: Detroit Lions – People forget that both of these teams actually have good defenses. Take the Lions and the under. 

Ben Thaler: Detroit Lions – When the best WR in the league meets the best RB in the league, I take Matthew Stafford over Christian Ponder. 

Brian Thorne: Detroit Lions – The addition of Reggie Bush will overextend the Vikings’ defense and the secondary won’t be able to contain the passing game. Defensively the Lions won’t shut down the running game, but will do enough to keep it in check. 

Michael Cellars: Minnesota Vikings – Two words: Adrian Peterson.

Consensus: Detroit Lions (8-1)

Oakland Raiders Indianapolis Colts

Kevin Roberts: Indianapolis Colts – The Raiders don’t have a QB or a defense and they’re on the road. Good luck with all of that. 

Keet Bailey: Indianapolis Colts – Colts start the season off a bit Luck-y. 

Taylor Smith: Indianapolis Colts – The 2013 installment of the Oakland Raiders may have the worst on-paper roster I’ve ever seen for an NFL team. 

Gregg Ring: Indianapolis Colts – The Raiders might be the worst team in football and the Colts are certainly on the rise. Look for Luck to shred the Raiders and look for Pryor to struggle. 

Terrence Kirker: Indianapolis Colts – Luck should be able to pick the Raiders apart. Oakland is still a mess. 

Jonathan Pollak: Indianapolis Colts – Things are bad in Oakland. Things are better in Indy, and this is about as easy a start as they could have asked for. 

Ben Thaler: Indianapolis Colts – Terrelle Pryor is the definition of an inexperienced NFL quarterback. His first win will not come against the Colts. 

Brian Thorne: Indianapolis Colts – An improved defense and a strong offense will overpower the Raiders in all areas of this contest. 

Michael Cellars: Indianapolis Colts – If it weren’t for the Texans, the Colts would be an almost unanimous pick to win the division this year. They’ll be too much for the Raiders on both sides of the ball. 

Consensus: Indianapolis Colts (9-0)

Atlanta Falcons New Orleans Saints

Kevin Roberts: New Orleans Saints – The Saints need to make a big impression early. With Sean Payton back, they could steal the win. 

Keet Bailey: New Orleans Saints – Welcome back, Coach Payton.

Taylor Smith: Atlanta Falcons – The Saints had one of the worst defenses in the history of football last year, and they didn’t do much to improve it coming into this season, either. Rob Ryan is supposed to fix that thing?

Gregg Ring: New Orleans Saints – I think the Falcons are the better team but the emotion of playing in the Superdome coupled with the return of Sean Payton is enough for the Saints to snag a division win in Week One. 

Terrence Kirker: Atlanta Falcons – Though Sean Payton is back, the addition of Steven Jackson to Atlanta is a huge plus. I have to like Atlanta’s offense to start.

Jonathan Pollak: Atlanta Falcons – This should be a great game to watch. Whichever defense does anything at all will win.

Ben Thaler: New Orleans Saints – The Saints will surprise a lot of people around the NFL when they beat the Falcons on Sean Payton’s return to the Superdome.

Brian Thorne: New Orleans Saints – Neither team will play enough defense to affect the outcome of the game, so New Orleans will count on Coach Payton and Drew Brees to secure the victory. Crowd noise and Saints voodoo are just enough to defeat Atlanta.

Michael Cellars: New Orleans Saints – I’m sure the Saints, with the return of Sean Payton after a year being suspended, will look to make a statement in 2013. No better place to start than against a division rival in the Superdome. 

Consensus: New Orleans Saints (7-2)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers New York Jets

Kevin Roberts: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Jets don’t have a quarterback and the Bucs D is on the rise. Whoever is under center is in trouble.

 Keet Bailey: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Do the Jets have a serviceable quarterback on the roster? 

Taylor Smith: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I don’t really need to bother explaining this. 

Gregg Ring: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Jets are overmatched against nearly every team in football. Doug Martin should have plenty of running room as Tampa wins the “Revis Bowl.”

Terrence Kirker: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Jets are in a nosedive and are already bracing for impact and the season hasn’t even started yet. 

Jonathan Pollak: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Bucs’ D is a fantastic fantasy play Week One. Expect sacks, interceptions, fumbles, butts, everything!

Ben Thaler: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Bucs fans will enjoy seeing Revis return to the Meadowlands…Jets fans will not.

Brian Thorne: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The secondary in Tampa Bay preys on mistakes made by opposing QBs and Geno Smith has done very little beyond making mistakes since being drafted by the Jets. The Buccaneers win a turnover-filled game. 

Michael Cellars: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I would love it if Darrelle Revis gave the finger to Rex Ryan as he’s returning an interception down the sideline for a touchdown. 

Consensus: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-0)

Tennessee Titans Pittsburgh Steelers

Kevin Roberts: Pittsburgh Steelers – Pittsburgh isn’t what they once were, but they should still be able to take care of the Titans at home. 

Keet Bailey: Pittsburgh Steelers – Big Ben finds a way to win at Heinz.

Taylor Smith: Pittsburgh Steelers – I know the Steelers aren’t great or anything, but the Titans are still running Jake Locker out there. I mean come on. 

Gregg Ring: Tennessee Titans – The Steelers are getting older, and CJ2K is finally ready to prove he deserves that contract. Look for a big game from Johnson behind the revamped Titans offensive line. 

Terrence Kirker: Tennessee Titans – The Steelers look a lot different this year. I’m just not sold on them yet and I think Chris Johnson can run on them. 

Jonathan Pollak: Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers have problems, but the Titans are not the team to go into Pittsburgh and expose them. 

Ben Thaler: Pittsburgh Steelers – If the Steelers can stop CJ2K from busting-out for one or more big TDs, they should have no problem getting past the Titans in Week One. 

Brian Thorne: Pittsburgh Steelers – This game will be closer than it should because the Titans are much better than last year, but it still isn’t enough to beat the passing attack that Pittsburgh possesses. Chris Johnson makes this an interesting match-up, though. 

Michael Cellars: Pittsburgh Steelers – Though the Steelers have a lot of questions surrounding them going into the season, they still have a two-time champion at quarterback.

Consensus: Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2)

Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers

Kevin Roberts: Carolina Panthers – Carolina shouldn’t win this game, but I’m going for an upset special. And not because of their offense. Their defense intrigues me.

Keet Bailey: Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks’ defense is too much for Cam Newton.

Taylor Smith: Seattle Seahawks – I’m not drinking that Seahawks Super Bowl kool aid, but they’re a hell of a lot better than the Panthers are. 

Gregg Ring: Seattle Seahawks – This one could be tricky for the ‘Hawks. Russell Wilson is much better at home, and the Panthers’ offense is no joke. This could be an upset special, but I think Marshawn Lynch racks up enough yards against a bad Panthers run defense to put one in the win column for Seattle. 

Terrence Kirker: Seattle Seahawks – Their defense will win them this game. Cam Newton will give them all they can handle, but he’ll make a few mistakes.

Jonathan Pollak: Carolina Panthers – Everyone loves Seattle, but they’re on the road, and Carolina’s D is better than people realize. If Newton can hold onto the ball, they can pull off a nice upset. 

Ben Thaler: Seattle Seahawks – Since Pete Carroll took over, the Birds are 0-3 in road openers and 8-16 overall on the road. That will change this week. Advantage: Seahawks. 

Brian Thorne: Seattle Seahawks – Mistakes from Cam Newton decide the outcome of this game. An injured Seahawks defense won’t be dominant, but will be opportunistic. The Carolina defense will keep it close, but not close enough. 

Michael Cellars: Carolina Panthers – This is my upset special for the week. Come on, Cam!

Consensus: Seattle Seahawks (6-3)

Kansas City Chiefs Jacksonville Jaguars

Kevin Roberts: Kansas City Chiefs – Neither of these teams is good, but Jax has a softer defense and KC has the better offense.

Keet Bailey: Kansas City Chiefs – Andy Reid and the Chiefs unveil their fast-paced offense.

Taylor Smith: Kansas City Chiefs – KC underachieved a year ago, and could easily nab a Wild Card spot in the weak AFC. Also, Jacksonville sucks.

Gregg Ring: Kansas City Chiefs – Kansas City will come out and take the inaugural game of the Andy Reid era. Jamaal Charles should have plenty of running room against the Jags, and the underrated Chiefs defense will shut-down Blaine Gabbert and MJD.

Terrence Kirker: Kansas City Chiefs – The offense is talented. And now that they have direction with Andy Reid, they should be putting points up.

Jonathan Pollak: Kansas City Chiefs – A healthy dose of Jamaal Charles and high-percentage Alex Smith passes will get it done.

Ben Thaler: Kansas City Chiefs – New head coach/quarterback tandem Andy Reid and Alex Smith will exploit the numerous holes on the lowly Jaguars roster. Oh…and Jamaal Charles will run wild. 

Brian Thorne: Kansas City Chiefs – Jacksonville doesn’t have enough playmakers on either side of the ball to contend for 60 minutes. The Andy Reid era begins with a victory, although the game will probably be less than inspiring.

Michael Cellars: Kansas City Chiefs – Has Tim Tebow signed with the Jaguars yet?

Consensus: Kansas City Chiefs (9-0)

Arizona Cardinals St. Louis Rams

Kevin Roberts: Arizona Cardinals – It won’t be easy, but Carson Palmer and co. will march into St. Louis and show that they’re the true sleeper team in the NFC West. Maybe.

Keet Bailey: St. Louis Rams – The Rams’ offense has had too much time to not be a big improvement.

Taylor Smith: St. Louis Rams – I’m a Carson Palmer supporter, but I also think Sam Bradford truly breaks-out this season. Arizona’s offensive line is also a mess.

Gregg Ring: St. Louis Rams – St. Louis has a legit defense and the Cardinals barely have an offensive line. I don’t care if Carson Palmer is an upgrade at QB if he can’t stay on his feet. 

Terrence Kirker: St. Louis Rams – I think the Rams are a huge surprise this year, making a playoff push. Arizona will be a good test to start, but I think Bradford can pull out a close one. 

Jonathan Pollak: St. Louis Rams – Sam Bradford was better than people realized last year, and neither team will be able to run the ball. Arizona’s shaky O-line means Palmer could have trouble staying healthy. 

 Ben Thaler: St. Louis Rams – The Rams are going to show people why they should not be written-off in the NFC West. The loss of Jonathan Cooper will be a big one in Arizona and Carson Palmer will pay. 

Brian Thorne: Arizona Cardinals – Despite the new offensive weapons, the Rams are still limited by Sam Bradford. The defense will cause problems for Arizona, but newly-acquired Carson Palmer will handle it well enough to get the win. 

Michael Cellars: St. Louis Rams – A young team with a lot of talent that unfortunately plays in the same division as the 49ers and Seahawks. 

Consensus: St. Louis Rams (7-2)

Green Bay Packers San Francisco 49ers

Kevin Roberts: San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers have Green Bay’s number of late, and the Pack still has issues on the O-line and on defense.

Keet Bailey: San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers’ defense at home is one of the toughest in the league. 

Taylor Smith: Green Bay Packers – I know the Packers have issues on defense, but the Niners’ offense will struggle a bit at first without Michael Crabtree in-the-mix, and I don’t think they’ll be able to keep up with Green Bay this time around.

Gregg Ring: San Francisco 49ers – The Packers couldn’t stop Colin Kaepernick in the playoffs last year, and they won’t be able to stop him in Week One. Aaron Rodgers won’t be able to dig the defense out of the hole. 

Terrence Kirker: San Francisco 49ers – Both offenses are good. But the 49ers’ defense is that much better than the Packers’. Advantage: 49ers.

Jonathan Pollak: Green Bay Packers – Green Bay’s defense is catching up to the offense, while the Niners still have deficiencies at receiver. 

Ben Thaler: San Francisco 49ers – All I have to say about this pick is go back and watch the last time these two teams met. I’ll give you a hint…Colin Kaepernick.

Brian Thorne: Green Bay Packers – The only way to beat the 49ers is with a dominant passing game, which is about the only thing Green Bay has at its disposal. In a high-scoring affair, Aaron Rodgers finds Randall Cobb early and often. 

Michael Cellars: San Francisco 49ers – I just hope that Colin Kaepernick doesn’t rush for 200+ yards this time. 

Consensus: San Francisco 49ers (7-2)

New York Giants Dallas Cowboys

Kevin Roberts: Dallas Cowboys – I like the Cowboys this year, and they tend to play up to the Giants, anyway. They’ll get it done in their home opener. 

Keet Bailey: New York Giants – The Cowboys’ defense isn’t there and Eli has too many healthy weapons. 

Taylor Smith: New York Giants – As much as I’d like to pick the Cowboys, the Giants don’t lose in this building. Also, the Cowboys’ deficiencies up front just so happen to coincide with the strength of the Giants. 

Gregg Ring: New York Giants – Look, the Cowboys don’t beat the Giants at AT&T Stadium. They never have. The Giants start their bounce-back season with a win over the ‘Boys.

Terrence Kirker: New York Giants – David Wilson looks really good, and could make the Cowboys have to lay off of Cruz and Nicks more than they want to. Eli will find those two open.

Jonathan Pollak: Dallas Cowboys – The Giants are due to lose in Dallas eventually.

Ben Thaler: New York Giants – The Giants hold a 4-0 record against the Cowboys in Jerry Jones’ playhouse heading into Sunday’s season opener. With Victor Cruz at 100% and David Wilson ready to explode, look for the Giants to improve to 5-0 at AT&T Stadium.

Brian Thorne: Dallas Cowboys – Injuries to New York and the maturity of Dez Bryant will determine the outcome of this game. In a typical NFC East shootout, Dallas will score last before the Giants run out of time and come up just short. 

Michael Cellars: New York Giants – In the fourth quarter, Tony Romo, as usual, will make a mistake. Then, Eli Manning, as usual, will make a clutch play for the victory. 

Consensus: New York Giants (6-3)

Philadelphia Eagles Washington Redskins

Kevin Roberts: Philadelphia Eagles – It’s not that I don’t believe in the Redskins, but something just seems right about Michael Vick in this Philly offense. I’m scared. 

Keet Bailey: Washington Redskins – Defense contains Vick and wins in a close one. 

Taylor Smith: Washington Redskins – Philly can play as quickly as they want, but how’s that defense going to stop anybody? RGIII can rack-up 400 yards of offense on this bunch with an ACL tied behind his back. 

Gregg Ring: Philadelphia Eagles – Upset special in Washington. Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense will surprise people the first few weeks, and the Redskins will be the first victim, even if RGIII is healthy.

Terrence Kirker: Washington Redskins – New coach and new offense for the Eagles. They’ll have their mistakes and RGIII will take advantage. 

Jonathan Pollak: Washington Redskins – RGIII may not be 100%, but neither is the Philly D after turning over half the roster. 

Ben Thaler: Philadelphia Eagles – Chip Kelly’s hurry-up offense will set Shady McCoy, Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson loose on the Redskins’ D. RGIII will play well, but not well enough. 

Brian Thorne: Philadelphia Eagles – Early in the season, the new offensive scheme in Philadelphia will cause problems for opposing defenses. The return of RGIII will be spoiled by an up-tempo attack featuring the playmaking abilities of DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy. 

Michael Cellars: Washington Redskins – Robert Griffin III aside, the Redskins are vastly superior to the Eagles (on paper). 

Consensus: Washington Redskins (5-4)

Houston Texans @ San Diego Chargers

Kevin Roberts: Houston Texans – I think Philip Rivers and co. give a go at this one at home, but Houston should still prevail. 

Keet Bailey: Houston Texans – The Chargers have like one half of a healthy receiver on the depth chart. 

Taylor Smith: Houston Texans – Wouldn’t be too surprising if the Raiders were the only thing standing between the Chargers and the 2014 No. 1 overall draft pick. 

Gregg Ring: Houston Texans – I almost feel bad for Philip Rivers. The San Diego roster has been stripped of basically all offensive talent and Rivers will be running for his life all Monday night. 

Terrence Kirker: Houston Texans – Philip Rivers could be in for a very long night. 

Jonathan Pollak: Houston Texans – Houston will be motivated and get off to another fast start this season. The Texans should overwhelm the Bolts with superior talent. 

Ben Thaler: Houston Texans – The Texans have the advantage in every way imaginable in this matchup. Philip Rivers will have nightmares of JJ “Swatt” for weeks to come, and Arian Foster and Andre Johnson will make mincemeat of the Chargers’ defense. 

Brian Thorne: Houston Texans – One of the league’s best defenses against an O-line that isn’t great and a WR corps that can’t hang onto the ball. The Texans’ running game will eat up time and put up points. 

Michael Cellars: Houston Texans – Let’s be real. Does anyone expect anything from the Chargers this year? I’m surprised Philip Rivers is still their quarterback. 

Consensus: Houston Texans (9-0) 

About the author: Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been with NFL Soup since its inception, and is a jack of all trades, helping with breaking news, fantasy football advice and NFL Draft coverage. Smith also heads NFL Soup’s live chats and radio shows. Taylor also contributes content to our sister sites, MLB Soup, NBA Soup and NBA Water Cooler. He lives in San Diego, where he also is a writer for the L.A. Clippers. Follow him on Twitter @NFLSoupTaylor.

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