One team is known for its high-scoring offense. The other is known for a shutdown defense. And neither team knows the other one all that well.
It’s another prime time matchup for the Patriots, who face the San Francisco 49ers Sunday night at Gillette Stadium in only the 12th meeting of the teams in their history.
While the Patriots enter this week’s game first in the NFL with an average of 36.3 points per game and 425.7 yards of total offense per game, the San Francisco defense ranks first in the NFL, allowing just 14.2 points per game.
In this week’s preview video, the Globe’s Shalise Manza Young gives us her keys to the Week 15 showdown and looks into how the Patriots match up against some of the 49ers biggest weapons on offense and defense. We’ll also hear from Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and Nate Solder on taking on one of the toughest defenses in the NFL. And Rob Ninkovich talks about a Patriots defense that has forced a turnover in 24 straight games, dating back to 2011 and including the first 13 games of 2012.
New England is an NFL-best 43-5 in December since the 2001 season and is 21-0 in the second half of the season since 2010. The Patriots have won 20 consecutive games at Gillette in December. Belichick is 45-7 in December with the Patriots and the team has now won 13 consecutive regular-season December games.
Jim Harbaugh is in his second season as head coach after leading the 49ers to a 13-3 regular season record, its best since 1997, and a NFC West Division title last year. The 49ers are 10-4 on the road overall under Harbaugh.
With 19.5 sacks on the season, 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith set the single-season franchise record, surpassing Hall of Fame defensive end Fred Dean. San Francisco’s defense has allowed just 25 drives to reach the red zone this season, ranking first in the NFL.
On the offensive side of the ball, running back Frank Gore eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the season last week, marking his franchise-record sixth 1,000 yard rushing season, while Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick is always a threat to run the ball.