BOSTON (CBS) — The 2016 Patriots season begins Sunday night with a prime time test against the Arizona Cardinals.
WBZ-TV’s Levan Reid brings you all the news, notes and fun facts you need to know ahead of the tilt:
– Sunday night is the Patriots first ever game against the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.
– The Pats open the season for the fifth time in team history against an NFC opponent. It’s the first time since they hosted Tampa Bay in 2000.
– This will be the 14th meeting between the Pats and the Cardinals. Arizona leads the series 7-6.
– Under Bill Belichick, the Pats are 14-7 in season openers. The Pats also hold a 25-17 record on Sunday night.
– Belichick enters the season with 223 regular season wins, needing just four more to surpass Curly Lambeau for fourth place on the overall win list.
– Over the last 10 seasons, the Pats have the best record in the NFL at 124-36. Their 55-25 road record in that time is also the best in the league.
– New England is 45-11 against the NFC since realignment in 2002, the best inter-conference record in the NFL in that time.
– The Cardinals (30.5 points per game) and Patriots (29 points per game) ranked second and third in the NFL, respectively, in points per game in 2015. The Cardinals led the NFL in total offense with 408.3 yards per game last season.
– Jimmy Garoppolo is set to become the fifth quarterback in the last 30 years to make his first career start in a season-opening night game, joining Aaron Rodgers (2008 with Green Bay), Philip Rivers (2006 with San Diego), David Carr (2002 with Houston) and Brian Griese (1999 with Denver).
– Rob Gronkowski has 66 overall touchdowns, and needs just three more to move past Stanley Morgan to become the team’s all-time leader in scoring.
– Gronk needs 172 yards to move past Irving Fryar into fourth place on the Patriots all time receiving yards list.
– Gronkowski has five seasons with 10 or more touchdowns, the most ever by an NFL tight end.
– Stephen Gostkowski has led the NFL in scoring in each of the last four seasons.
– The New England defense has recorded at least one sack in every game last season. They enter 2016 with a streak of 29 games with at least one sack, the longest such streak in the NFL.
– Four Patriots have brothers in the NFL: Martellus Bennett and Michael Bennett (Seattle); Rob Gronkowski and Glenn Gronkowski (Buffalo); Chris Long and Kyle Long (Chicago); Devin McCourty and Jason McCourty (Tennessee)