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Sunday Night Football open thread: Steelers at Patriots

Two AFC titans square off in the first Sunday Night Football of the season.

NFL: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots will host the Pittsburgh Steelers in a battle of two of the AFC’s best. The Patriots are coming into the game with some extra headlines after signing Antonio Brown, fresh off of his stint — if you can call it that — with the Oakland Raiders. He will not be playing this week, but oh, how I wish he was.

Brown was jettisoned from Pittsburgh this offseason after a deteriorating relationship between Brown and... everyone. It would have been extremely interesting to see Brown up against his former team. Alas, it will have to wait.

Nonetheless, this game features plenty of reasons to be excited.

The Patriots are obviously the defending champions, and in a weak AFC, the Steelers could be one of their toughest foes this season. Tom Brady continues to helm the team, though he will be without Rob Gronkowski, who retired in the offseason.

The Steelers, meanwhile, enter the post-Brown stage of their franchise. Ready to step into the spotlight is JuJu Smith-Schuster, who himself had a breakout season last year. As for the rest of the offense, they will also be without Le’Veon Bell, though this will technically be their second season without him, since he held out last year. James Conner performed notably in his stead, and figures to be an important part of Ben Roethlisberger’s offense.

Sunday Night Football is back.

Date: Sunday, September 8, 2019
Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
Announcers: Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst), Michele Tafoya (sidelines)