By Danny Cox
On Monday afternoon, history was made as a groundbreaking ceremony took place in Las Vegas as the Oakland Raiders look forward to moving there. Big-time stars were on hand to watch as the new stadium officially began its construction, but the excitement is going to have to be pushed to the side for at least a little bit.
The Raiders still have a number of seasons before their Las Vegas move by 2020, and next up on the list of games is a contest against the New England Patriots. Oakland hosts the Patriots on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 4:25 p.m. EST.
Raiders Record: 4-5
The Raiders won two games in impressive fashion before losing three in a row. Then, they knocked off the Kansas City Chiefs in a bit of a shocker before getting blown out by the Bills, only to rebound and take out the Dolphins. It’s hard to know which Raiders team is going to show up this Sunday against the Patriots.
Raiders On Offense
If the Raiders get everyone working together on offense, they can run up the score and be quite productive against any defense in the NFL. The only problem is that doesn’t happen as often as they would like. Oakland had really hoped their running game would improve with the signing of Marshawn Lynch, but he has less than 325 total yards this season and hasn’t even crossed the 75-yard mark since the first game of the season.
Derek Carr struggled a bit earlier this year, but his last three games have been his best of the entire season. In the last three contests, Carr has thrown for 1,070 yards along with five touchdowns as the Raiders have gone 2-1 during that stretch. He has a lot of weapons, and if all are on their game, the Patriots’ defense could run into some problems.
Raiders On Defense
When the Patriots offense is on the field, Brady should be able to simply tee off on the Raiders’ secondary. In nine games this season, the Raiders have yet to record a single interception. They do not cause a lot of turnovers and the team doesn’t produce a lot of sacks, either. While they’re not at the bottom of the league in total points allowed or points given up per game, they certainly don’t bring a lot of pressure.
Guys like Khalil Mack, Mario Edwards Jr., and Bruce Irvin need to be watched at all times, but the Pats should easily be able to control the pace of the game and run up the score.
Raiders Players To Watch: WR Michael Crabtree and DE Khalil Mack
It isn’t that Michael Crabtree is going to surprise anyone since this is his ninth season in the NFL, but he still manages to find a way to hide from the opposing defense. Oakland has a lot of great weapons on offense and Crabtree is third on the team in receiving yards (451) and receptions (36), behind Jared Cook and Amari Cooper, but he finds the end zone—a lot. Crabtree has six touchdowns and knows how to get behind opposing secondaries in a hurry.
Khalil Mack may only be in his fourth NFL season, but he’s an absolute beast on the field, and Tom Brady will need to be aware of where he is at all times. He leads the team with 4.5 sacks and always seems to be in on every single thing happening on defense.
The Raiders don’t rate very high on the charts in either total offense or defense, but they’re certainly no pushover. Still, the Patriots have a lot of firepower that the Raiders simply don’t have enough talent to defend against, and they can’t win in a shootout with Tom Brady and company. As dreams of relocation to Las Vegas keep coming closer to becoming a reality, the distraction may end up hurting their few remaining years in California.