Two traditional AFC powerhouses will square off on Thursday night, but this particular matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots won't look anything like the ones we've grown used to over the past two decades.
Both teams come into this contest banged up, and they will each start their backup quarterback after Kenny Pickett suffered an injury and Mac Jones was benched. The Steelers and Patriots already had two of the worst offenses in the NFL, and now they will have to play shorthanded against two of the league's better defenses.
Which of these two teams can pull off the win with their backup quarterback under center? We'll find out soon enough. Before we break down the matchup, here's a look at how you can watch the game.
How to watch
When the Patriots have the ball
The less said about New England's offense, the better. This is a team almost totally devoid of playmakers, with an offensive line that has been considerably below-average, and that is just cycling through below-replacement-level quarterbacks. With Rhamondre Stevenson now on the shelf with an ankle injury, it's barely worth getting into the ways this team can move the ball. The Pats were shut out by the Chargers last week. They seem highly unlikely to muster much of anything against the Steelers.
When the Steelers have the ball
The post-Matt Canada offensive revolution in Pittsburgh lasted exactly one week. The Steelers were back to being their same disappointing selves last Sunday against the Cardinals, totaling just 317 yards and 10 points as Mitchell Trubisky took over for an injured Pickett and the game was twice interrupted by inclement weather.
The idea that Pickett is a dramatically better option under center and would have changed things doesn't pass the smell test based on his play to date, but we also know what Trubisky is at this point -- and it's not good. Pittsburgh may have a little bit more of a quarterback run element to the game plan with him in there, but not enough to raise the floor or ceiling of the offense in a meaningful way.
Disappointingly, the Steelers' backfield split also tilted back heavily in favor of Najee Harris over Jaylen Warren last week, despite Warren again dramatically outperforming Harris both on a per-touch basis and totaling nearly as many yards on half as many touches. It's blindingly obvious that Warren is the team's best offensive playmaker, yet the Steelers frustratingly refuse to get him more involved.
Pittsburgh's passing attack does have a few strong options in Diontae Johnson, George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth, but the idea of Trubisky putting together a strong passing performance on a short week against a Bill Belichick defense that has held three consecutive opponents to 10 or fewer points seems highly unlikely.
Prediction: Steelers 10, Patriots 6
If you are looking for another take on the game, then I highly suggest that you check out SportsLine expert Emory Hunt's breakdown. Hunt is 18-4 on his last 22 ATS picks in games involving the Patriots and he's leaning Under the total, but you can find out more right here.