View images of the key players on San Francisco's eleventh regular season opponent, the New England Patriots.
The San Francisco 49ers (1-8) return home in Week 11 to host the New England Patriots (7-2) for one of the team's final three contests at Levi's® Stadium in 2016.
New England is coming off of its first loss of the season with Tom Brady back at the helm – a primetime defeat against the Seattle Seahawks. The Patriots had previously been undefeated since their quarterback returned from a four-game suspension to start the year.
Sunday will be Brady's first road game against the 49ers in his 17-year career. The quarterback was out with a knee injury the last time New England visited San Francisco in 2008.
For the 49ers, it will be another opportunity to end what has snowballed into an eight-game losing streak.All-time Record: 8-4
San Francisco won seven of the first eight contests against New England but have since dropped three-of-four.Previous Matchup: 49ers 41 – 34 Patriots (Dec. 16, 2012 in New England)
The "Sunday Night Football" matchup provided the 49ers with one of their marquee wins en route to Super Bowl XLVII. San Francisco jumped out to a commanding 31-10 lead, only to see Brady engineer one of his signature, fourth-quarter comebacks. The 49ers were able to stave off the Patriots behind four touchdown passes from Colin Kaepernick.The Patriots Best Player: Tom Brady
New England's franchise quarterback has been on a warpath since rejoining the team in Week 5. Brady completed 73 percent of his passes during his first four games back from suspension. In those contests, the Patriots went 4-0 while the future Hall of Famer threw for 1,319 passing yards (329.75 yards per game) and 12 touchdowns. Brady's cumulative passer rating during that stretch was an impressive 133.9.
The Seahawks stifled Brady a bit in Week 10 – just 316 passing yards, no touchdowns and his first interception of the season – but the quarterback still enters Sunday's matchup against the 49ers on an absolute tear.
* Who You Should Get to Know: Martellus Bennett*
You probably already know Bennett from his days with the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and Chicago Bears, but he's now a top target in the Patriots offense. New England's offseason signee is second on the team in catches (38) and receiving yards (504). Bennett's four touchdown receptions leads the club. Three of those scores came in Brady's first game back, a 33-13 dismantling of the Cleveland Browns in Week 5.
With Rob Gronkowski's status in question due to a reported punctured lung, Bennett could see an increased role in New England's potent passing attack.Where They Excel: Scoring Points
The Patriots rank sixth in total points despite Brady missing a quarter of the season. New England has scored more than 30 points in four games this year and more than 23 in all but one. That's all to say that apart from a Week 4 aberration in which New England was shut out by the Buffalo Bills, the Patriots have been an offensive powerhouse.
Part of that success has to do with their ability to take care of the football. The Patriots have just eight turnovers on the season.Where They Struggle: Forcing Turnovers
It's hard to believe that New England sports a turnover ratio of just plus one. That's because the Patriots defense, while effective in terms of keeping team's out of the end zone, hasn't been able to create takeaways consistently. The group has forced just nine turnovers on the season (five interceptions and four fumble recoveries). That total ranks 26th league-wide.