New England at Oakland (in Mexico City)
11/15/17 @ 4:25 PM EST
Thanks to a stretch in which the Oakland Raiders lost five out of six games, their season has been in the critical stage for a while. This game against the Patriots (which was billed as a possible AFC title game preview prior to the season) is as critical a it comes for the 4-5 Raiders. If the Raiders lose to New England, which has won five straight game and looks very much like the team we all expected them to be, they will fall to 4-6. The Kansas City Chiefs play at the woebegone New York Giants on Sunday. An Oakland loss and a Kansas City win would put the Raiders three games out of first place in the AFC West with six games to go. One needn’t be a math whiz to understand that equation.
Yes, the AFC Wild card race is a mess, so Oakland wouldn’t be out of it even at 4-6, but if the Raiders are going to be a real factor in the AFC, they need to show the Patriots they can handle them. The thing is, this is a bad matchup for Oakland. It all starts with the Patriots’ offense and the Raiders defense. And that’s the Oakland’s biggest worry.
Because New England’s defense is beatable, the Raiders may not get blown out of this game like the sagging Denver Broncos were against New England in Week 10. But the Patriots could easily surpass their 41 points in the Denver game against the Raiders.
The Patriots are a terrible matchup for Oakland. New England is varied, deep, led by future Hall of Famer Tom Brady and are well coached. Oakland’s defense has long sagged against excellent opponents, Heck, even Jay Cutler and the Miami Dolphins (they of the worst offense in the league) erupted for 395 yards against Oakland in a Raiders’ Week 9 win.
The Raiders’ defensive concentration begins with keeping Brady and his two-tight end Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett from making a mockery of this game. The addition of Bennett in New England was not a good thing or the Raiders. Oakland struggles against one tight end, nonetheless two of the caliber of Gronk and Marty. B.
I’d expect Brady to try to exploit this weakness – New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is a master of exploitation – early and then open the rest of the New England offense. What Oakland desperately needs in this game is to win the turnover battle. That is another issue. The Raiders are the only team in the NFL without an interception. And Brady never throws interceptions. He has thrown four interceptions since the start of last season. Those two trends need to flip hard for the Raiders to stand a chance.Raiders at Redskins 9/24/17
While the Patriots’ potential for a big day offensively is scary for Oakland to digest, New England can be scored on. If the Raiders’ offense can continue to work out of its funk (it was decent against Miami), the Raiders have a chance to score a lot of points as well. Oakland must execute offensively at a high level throughout the game. The Raiders can’t have a few good series here and there, and then have series riddled by no run success and weird formations, which has been an issue under first-year offensive coordinator Todd Downing.
What the Raiders’ really need is for Derek Carr and Amari Cooper to have a big game like they did last month in a 31-30 win over Kansas City. Cooper had 210 receiving yards. He was unreal. However, it was his only big game since last October. He needs to be great, Marshawn Lynch needs to establish the Raiders’ ground attack as well. He has had one good game and that was in Week 1. If Lynch can eat clock and keep Brady off the field, it would go a long way to helping the Raiders stay in this game. Check out all the matchup info you need at, https://www.lineups.com/nfl/matchups/2017/11-19/ne-patriots-oak-raiders
Prediction: Patriots 38, Raiders 23.