2015 will mark the 12th straight season that the defending Super Bowl champion has played in the regular-season night opener and if you believe in trends, you probably already know that the Pittsburgh Steelers face a daunting task this coming season in their Week 1 game against the New England Patriots.
For starters, the defending champions are 9-2 in those 11 previous games and 9-0 and when playing at home on a Thursday night. The 2012 New York Giants and the 2013 Baltimore Ravens are the only two defending Super Bowl champion teams that have lost their regular-season opener dating back to 2004. The Giants 24-17 lost to the Dallas Cowboys in 2012 in a game that took place on Wednesday night while the Ravens 49-27 lost to the Denver Broncos in a 2013 game that took place on the road.
The Patriots are 2-0 in Thursday night regular-season openers and those wins came in 2004 and 2005. In addition to that, the Patriots are 11-4 in regular-season openers and 7-1 at home dating back to 2000, which was Bill Belichick’s first season as their head coach. Three of those four losses came in Belichick’s first four years with team and his last regular-season opening loss came just last year when the Patriots were beaten 38-24 by the Miami Dolphins on the road. If you need more clarity, the Patriots haven’t lost a home regular-season opener since 2000.
As for the Steelers, they are 5-3 in regular-season openers and 1-2 on the road dating back to 2007, which was Mike Tomlin’s first season as the head coach. The last time two times they opened the season on the road they lost. In 2011 it was to the Ravens and in 2012 it was the Broncos who beat them.
To make matters worse this year, the Steelers will have to play the Patriots without starting running back Le’Veon Bell, who is slated to miss the game because of a suspension.
In case you missed it, the Patriots opened up as 6-point home favorites over the Steelers.