The Patriots will start their Super Bowl title defense against the visiting AFC North champion Steelers. The last time the Patriots faced the Steelers was in 2013 where the Patriots weakened offense still manage to post a 55-31 victory. Tight end Rob Gronkowski, receivers Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson, and running back Stevan Ridley each posted 120+ yards from scrimmage and scored a touchdown. Still, it was a one-score game until the start of the 4th quarter so this should be a fun match.
The Patriots have won eight of the past 11 tilts dating back to the 1998 regular season. The Patriots and the Steelers are the two best AFC teams of the past 20 years.
Quarterback Tom Brady is undefeated on Thursday night, with an impressive 7-0 record, a 16:2 touchdown to interception ratio, and a 107.3 passer rating. Coincidentally, Brady' first NFL pass attempt came on a Thursday night loss after starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe struggled against the Detroit Lions in the 2000 season. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is 7-2 on Thursday Night, losing with Bledsoe and Matt Cassel under center.
The Steelers have former Patriots special teamer Ross Ventrone on their roster. Ventrone is the brother of Patriots special teams coach Ray Ventrone. Steelers wide receiver Tyler Murphy served as Boston College's quarterback for the 2014 season. Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount, who will be inactive, spent half of the 2014 season with the Steelers before rejoining the Patriots.
The Steelers will be without their starting center Maurkice Pouncey, starting running back LeVeon Bell, and starting wide receiver Martavis Bryant. The Patriots will be without starting wide receiver Brandon LaFell and starting running back LeGarrette Blount.
Per the injury report, it's likely that the Patriots will be without starting center Bryan Stork, and that he will be replaced by Ryan Wendell. The drop from Stork to Wendell likely won't have any major top line repercussions for the Patriots offense, but it could affect the team if Shaq Mason doesn't thrive at left guard by weakening the New England depth talent available.
Date: Thursday, September 10th, 2015
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts
Kickoff: 8:30 PM EST
TV: NBC (ch. 7 for those in the Boston area)
Radio: 98.5 FM, with Scott Zolak and Bob Socci
SB Nation Coverage: Steelers vs Patriots coverage
Announcers: Al Michaels will cover the play-by-play. Cris Collinsworth will be the color analyst. Michele Tafoya is the sideline reporter.
Tickets: For tickets fans can visit the NFL Ticket Exchange
SB Nation Affiliates: Behind the Steel Curtain
Additional Information: The Patriots provide an incredible breakdown on their website.