Setting the scene: Patriots host Steelers at chilly Gillette Stadium
|11.03.13 at 1:15 pm ET|
FOXBORO — With the turning back of the clocks and the turning of the calendar to November comes the chilling weather that is customary with Patriots home football games in the second half of the season.
Clear skies and temperatures in the low 40s are expected for the 4:25 p.m. kickoff with the Steelers. A 10 MPH breeze out of the north will make it feel like freezing by halftime.
There will be a special pre-game ceremony to honor the World Series champion Red Sox, with several players, coaches and team staff and management expected to attend, with their third World Series trophy in nine years in tow.
The Patriots are attempting to head into their bye week with a 7-2 record by taking on a 2-5 Steelers team that is in the midst of their worst start to a season since the 1988 team opened 1-6 and 2-10.
The Patriots are entering the portion of the schedule they have mastered over the last 2010. They are a combined 23-1 in the second half of the regular season. In 2010 and 2011, they were 8-0 while they were 7-1 last season, with the only loss coming to 49ers on Sunday night football.
The Patriots are also an NFL-best 35-13 (.729) in the month of November since 2001.
New nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga is expected to make his debut at nose tackle. The 6-foot-2, 330-pound nose tackle was acquired in a deadline day trade on Tuesday from the Eagles, and with Tommy Kelly going on season-ending injured reserve on Saturday with a knee injury, Sopoaga’s presence is expected to be that much more important going forward.
Sopoaga’s addition is expected to be a boost to a run defense that is currently struggling to stop anyone. The Patriots enter the game ranked 31st in the NFL in stopping the run, allowing 130.8 yards per game while they are allowing just 215.5 yards per game through the air, good for fifth best in the NFL.
But the Patriots are having troubles of their own passing the ball. They are averaging just 209.4 yards through the air through the first half of the season, which ranks 23rd.
Tom Brady is having his least productive passing season since 2006. Brady is completing just 55.7 percent of his passes, has thrown nine touchdown passes and has been intercepted six times. His quarterback rating is 74.9, 21 points below his career average.
The Steelers lead the all-time series, 14-8 in the regular season, including a 25-17 win over New England on Oct. 30, 2011 at Heinz Field. The two teams haven’t met at Gillette Stadium since the Steelers beat Matt Cassel and the Patriots, 33-10, on Nov. 30, 2008.