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New England Patriots

The Biggest Patriots-Raiders Matchups To Watch

Patriots

The Patriots head into Las Vegas off a big win against the Cardinals. The big storyline of this game was supposed to be the battle between Belichick and McDaniels, but the Patriots head into this game in need of another win to pose any realistic shot of making the playoffs.

Can The Patriots’ Secondary Handle Davante Adams?

The Patriots’ defense has had a phenomenal season, but one issue has been handling top receivers. Of course, this is a problem area for any team, but the Patriots in particular have at times had poor execution of coverage schemes against the NFL’s best. In consecutive games, Justin Jefferson, Stefon Diggs, and DeAndre Hopkins have had great performances against the Patriots, and at times have bailed out their offenses with their dynamic playmaking.

Limiting Devante Adams will be a big part of shutting down the Raiders offense. In joint practices all the way back in week three of preseason, Jalen Mills did a lot of one-on-one against Adams and was burned most of the time. In reality, there are very few corners in the league, if any, who can consistently limit Adams in single coverage. As such, it will be up to the Patriots to be creative with their schemes and have the corners and safeties work together in zone coverages.

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With Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow returning to practice, there are some danger signs for New England, as they will make it difficult to focus on Adams if they play on Sunday.

Will The Patriots Hold In The Offensive Trenches?

One of the most concerning parts of the preseason game back in August is how poorly the Patriots’ starting offensive line unit functioned against a Raiders line with backups. The struggles that the Pats have had in pass protection and run blocking have continued all season, and it has caused Mac Jones and the offense to waver.

The Raiders boast a strong defensive front seven, led by their edge rushers Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby (who has 11.5 sacks on the season). Unfortunately for the Patriots, this corresponds with a weak spot for the Patriots, whose tackles on both sides, especially on the right with both injuries and poor play, have been extremely leaky.

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There were some semblances of good offensive line play against the Cardinals, especially in the second half, where running lanes were opened up for the rookie backs, and passing lanes were opened up for Jones. These instances were still, however, too seldom, and the Patriots need to build on that limited success. If last week was any indication, the Patriots will try to compensate for Mac Jones’ inevitable lack of time in the pocket with screen passes and the quick game.

Who Wins The Tactical Battles On Offense?

The answer to this seems quite obvious – at first glance, that is. Matt Patricia has been extremely inconsistent as an offensive playcaller, and his decisions have often not matched the down, distance and situation. Furthermore, for a large part of the season, he has underutilized his talent and not gotten out the optimal offensive product.

However, slowly, there have been elements of an ideal Patriots offense that have been coming out, and the end of the first half and second half against Arizona showed parts of what New England could be. They used their tight ends, particularly Henry, found a nice balance of run and pass, and utilized a variety of weapons (Mac Jones passed to eight weapons), and even went unorthodox by employing Marcus Jones on offense. While the occasional moments of brilliance need to be expanded upon, there’s some promise.

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McDaniels on the other hand, while he flourished calling plays for the Patriots, well beyond what Patricia has done this year. However, this year, as a Raider, he hasn’t handled the head coaching role well. Despite having overwhelming talent with a reliable QB in Derek Carr, the electric Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Josh Jacobs on offense, as well as a talented defense, the Raiders have struggled all season, and their offensive outputs, especially in bigger situations and the fourth quarter, haven’t matched that talent. The tactical battles will play a big role in deciding Sunday’s battle.


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Written By

I am a scientist at a pharmaceutical company in the boston area, and have a Master's Degree in Chemical Engineering from MIT. I am a huge fan of all things Boston sports, from the Patriots to the Red Sox to the Celtics, and can't wait to keep writing about my favorite team! On the side, I also love to sing, play tennis, and rock climb!

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