It seems like every week the Oakland Raiders (4-5) have the chance to save their season or toss it down the toilet. This will likely be their last chance when they face off against the New England Patriots (7-2) at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, Mexico.
The game will be televised for your viewing pleasure by the CBS television network and its local stations around the country at 4:25 p.m. EST.
The Game: New England Patriots at Oakland Raiders (+7.5)
The Raiders and Patriots have met 34 times since 1960 with New England holding an 18-15-1 advantage in the all time series.
The two teams made the “tuck rule” famous in their playoff game on January 19, 2002 at Foxboro Stadium. The Patriots won 16-13 on a late Adam Vinatieri field goal after a Tom Brady fumble was ruled an incomplete pass.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (7-2)
After fielding the worst defense in the league in the first month of the season, the Patriots have battened down the hatches. Since a 33-30 defeat at the hands of the Carolina Panthers, New England hasn’t surrendered more than 17 points in five consecutive games. Needless to say, they won all of them.
Still, these weren’t elite offenses the Patriots were playing. And I’m even counting the Atlanta Falcons there, since they’ve barely cracked 20 points a game under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. This will be New England’s first real test since that Panthers game.
Last week New England got a nice little piece of revenge on the Denver Broncos with a 41-16 beat down on the road. Tom Brady was 25 of 34 for 266 yards and three touchdowns and the defense mired Denver’s attack so much he actually got to watch most of the fourth quarter from the sideline. It was a good break for the 40 year old future Hall of Famer because he’s taken a beating this year.
Brady spread the ball around to nine different receivers against what was supposed to be an elite defensive unit. Rob Gronkowski and Brandin Cooks each hauled in 74 yards worth of passes. Gronk had four catches and Cooks six. Martellus Bennett, in his first game back with the Patriots, caught three passes for 38 yards.
Chris Hogan is out again with a shoulder injury. Marcus Cannon and Matthew Slater will miss the game too, as will center David Andrews.
OAKLAND RAIDERS (4-5)
Oakland comes into the game healthy with only one significant injury on the report. Cornerback David Amerson is listed as doubtful and didn’t practice all week. I doubt he’ll play.
The Raiders had a bye week to prepare for this game and they better have made it count. Derek Carr bounced back two weeks ago with a 21 of 30 game for 300 yards, one touchdown and one pick against the Miami Dolphins in a 27-24 victory. He’ll need to match that at least in this game.
What Oakland really needs is a monster game from Marshawn Lynch. Lynch carried the ball 14 times for 57 yards and two touchdowns against Miami, but he’s not taken over a game this year. He’s been Beast Mode in spurts. The Raiders need it for 60 minutes Sunday. Lynch is averaging 3.8 yards per carry so far this year, has rushed for just 323 yards and his two touchdowns 14 days ago doubled his season total.
Pats head coach Bill Belichick will do his best to take Amari Cooper away, so that means more pressure on Jared Cook and Michael Crabtree. Crabtree can handle it and is actually the most consistent receiver the Raiders have on the roster.
The line on this game has ticked up half a point since mid-week, so that means plenty of money was coming in on the Patriots’ side. The bettors are seeing something different than I see here. Oakland is a better team than its record and has been hit with plenty of bad luck. Carr should be as healthy as he’s been since the season began and I’ll need to see another performance before I believe New England’s defense is fixed. I see an outright upset coming here south of the border. Raiders 34, Patriots 33
Straight up: 1-0
Against the spread: 0-1
Straight up: 9-5
Against the spread: 6-8
Straight up: 87-59
Against the spread: 75-70
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