The New England Patriots unveiled their banner as six-time Super Bowl champions before their season-opening game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Right after, they made their case as the team with the best shot at No. 7 next February.
The Patriots absolutely dominated the Steelers in every phase en route to a 33-3 victory at Gillette Stadium that not only left the Steelers with an 0-1 start in the standings, but significant questions about the ability of the team.
The Pittsburgh offense was out-matched from the very start, with punts on four straight drives to start the game — a streak that was only interrupted by a turnover on downs on the fifth drive.
Through the air, Ben Roethlisberger seemed to have time throw, but the Steelers receiving corps sans Antonio Brown had a hard time earning separation and had a significant number of dropped passes, particularly from veteran No. 2 Donte Moncrief.
Moncrief finished his Pittsburgh debut with three catches for seven yards on 10 targets. Slot man Ryan Switzer had six catches but managed just 29 yards. Those two benefitted from additional targets as the Patriots attempted to take away JuJu Smith-Schuster (six catches, 78 yards).
The running game never got going, either James Conner finished with 10 carries for 21 yards.
Third downs were crucially poor for the Steelers, as well. They missed on third or fourth and 1 on three straight drives at one point and finished with 25% third-down efficiency.
Defensively, the Steelers attempted to keep Tom Brady and company in check, but a pair of big plays broke the game open.
Brady found Phillip Dorsett from 25 yards out over Mike Hilton and Trey Edmunds late in the first half and then connected with Dorsett again, this time from 58 yards over fill-in starter Kameron Kelly, who replaced the injured Sean Davis at free safety.