The NFL is celebrating their 50th Super Bowl this season and the Patriots are responsible for kicking off the year. One of the benefits of winning the Super Bowl is playing host to the first game of the year, taking place Thursday, September 10th.
The league is painting midfield lines gold as they highlight their big anniversary, and there was no doubt that they wanted to feature Super Bowls in their opening game.
The Patriots have one of the softest home schedules in the league, including the likes of the Titans, Jaguars, and Washington, which meant that the Week 1 opponent was narrowed down pretty quickly to either the Steelers or the Eagles (the opening kick-off game is rarely a divisional game in order to case the widest net of interest).
The Eagles presented a fun opportunity for a Super Bowl rematch, which fits the narrative, but they fell out of favor when coach Chip Kelly went Picasso on the Philadelphia roster, and made it unlikely a quarterback-less team would face the reigning champions.
The Steelers made the most sense, as they have the only legitimate starting quarterback that is traveling to Foxboro (okay, Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan Tannehill are both legitimate), and the Herald's Jeff Howe reports that it's a done deal. Pittsburgh is coming to New England.
The Patriots and Steelers have the most Super Bowl appearances over the past 20 seasons (seven and four, respectively), and they're both tied with the Cowboys for most appearances all time (eight). It's a celebration.
And for the record, Tom Brady absolutely annihilates the Steelers defense, posting a 109.7 passer rating in seven appearances- and he's never faced a Pittsburgh defense in such a weak state.
The Steelers will be without their workhorse running back Le'Veon Bell, who is suspended for the same marijuana incident that will keep Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount out of the game.