The Patriots used to have a rivalry with the Raiders. It used to be fun to watch, witness, and be a part of because both teams really hated each other. After all, how can you not hate someone after they cheated you out something you really wanted? In the first round of the 1976 playoffs, a controversial roughing the passer penalty on Patriots’ Ray Hamilton cost New England a spot in the Conference Championship. Twenty five years later, New England earned its revenge when they defeated the Raiders in the infamous “tuck-rule” game.
While their rivalry may have taking a hit in recent years, this is still a game we should value. It’s a traditional trap game, which often exposes teams that start slow. While their season records say otherwise, the Patriots have uncharacteristically limped out of the gate.
In any case, fear not. The Patriots have won 30 straight regular season home games against conference opponents. That is the longest active streak since the merger way back in the day…you know, when the Patriots and Raiders actually hated each other.
Vs. the Raiders’ Offense
Honestly, this should be a cake walk for the Patriots’ defense, which is coming off a dominant performance against the Vikings last week. In their week two victory, the Patriots forced four interceptions and six sacks. Their ability to stuff Minnesota’s run and pass game provided Brady’s offense with a short field to work with, which they capitalized on. While Carr threw for 263 yards against Houston last week, the Raiders still have an anemic passing attack. Their running game is, well, whatever is worse than anemic. Weak? Feable? Wishy-washy? Maybe well just stick with anemic. It’s ranked 31st.
Carr is probably the best quarterback the Raiders have brought into the “black hole” for awhile. However, he is still a rookie and has already shown some newbie tendencies. While James Jones is clearly the Raiders’ most dynamic receiver–if that’s saying much– Carr will find it challenging to get him the ball against the Patriots’ athletic secondary. Out of quarterbacks with at least 105 starts this season, Carr ranks 26 out of 32 in terms of average yards per attempt. This likely indicates the rookie signal caller is immediately throwing the ball to his first read.
So, the question then becomes, will the Raiders even score a point? Carr does have a high-ceiling, but he’ll likely rely too heavily on receivers James Jones, Rod Streeter, and fullback Marcel Reece to produce a respectable offense.
Vs. the Raiders’ Defense
In his weekly chat with ESPN Boston reporter Mike Reiss, former Patriots’ linebacker and now analyst Teddy Bruschi described the Raiders’ defense best when he said they, “were run on 14 straight times (including penalties) by the Texans last Sunday, and they couldn’t stop it. That’s demoralizing as a defense.” Oakland ranks last in the league in stopping the run, and I’d be shocked if they move up the boards in this one.
Critics have disparaged the Patriots’ offense over the last couple of weeks. It struggled mightily in week one, but actually improved slightly in week two. Their offensive line showed more consistency. However, I’m sure Brady would like to see that consistency rub off on the rest of the offense. They have yet to score a touchdown in the second half, and somehow hold a 1-1 record. Those same critics won’t give the offense much credit when they finally break that streak against the Raiders, but you have to start somewhere.