The Patriots will travel to Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Mexico to take on the struggling Raiders. This matchup will kick off at 4:25 PM/ET.
The Patriots (7-2) are coming off a big victory against the Broncos in Denver. Over the years, wins have been hard to come by for the Patriots in Denver. That wasn’t the case last week when the Patriots put up 41 points while holding Denver’s miserable offense to 16 points.
New England’s defense struggled mightily to start the season, but over the last five weeks, the Patriots have held their opponents to an average of 13.4 points per game. Over that same period, the Patriots have outscored their opponents 128 to 67.
So far in 2017, the Raiders (4-5) have disappointed. Picked before the season by many to challenge the Patriots and Steelers for supremacy in the AFC, Oakland has failed to live up to the hype. Last year, before Derek Carr’s season-ending injury, the Raiders were on a collision course to challenge the Patriots for the AFC title. Carr’s injury dashed any hope of a deep playoff run.
Since then, Oakland has struggled to regain that momentum. After starting the season 2-0, the Raiders dropped their next four games before bouncing back and beating the Chiefs. Over their last three games, Oakland has gone 2-1. Oakland needs a win this week to keep pace in the AFC Wild Card race.
This is a high altitude test for the Patriots
The Patriots are playing in back-to-back high altitude games. After traveling to Denver last week, the Patriots decided it was best to stay in the Colorado area and train in the high altitude before traveling to Mexico to face the Raiders. It’s an interesting move, and probably the right one.
Against the Broncos in week 10, Tom Brady played possibly his best game against the Broncos. Brady completed 25 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns. The offensive line played outstanding as well, allowing only one sack on the night.
Brady was without one of his top weapons in Chris Hogan, but it didn’t matter. The rest of the offense stepped up in his absence and the running backs and tight ends played a huge role. The wide receivers caught 12 passes, while the tight ends and running backs each had 8 receptions. The Patriots passing attack is most effective when Brady spreads around the ball, and that’s exactly what he did.
One of the more intriguing additions to the Patriots is Martellus Bennett. The Patriots allowed Bennett to walk in the offseason, but when he appeared on waivers last week, Belichick and company scooped him up. The fact that he played immediately, and played well, is a sign that he can have a big role in the offense moving forward.
Despite having injury issues, the Patriots aren’t going to need Bennett to carry the load at tight end. Gronkowski is still the number one option, but Bennett can have a huge impact in the red zone. Even in a limited role, expect Bennett to make a big impact down the stretch.
What to make of the Raiders defense?
According to NFL Stats, the Raiders have the 26th ranked defense in terms of yards allowed, as well as the 22nd ranked defense in terms of points allowed. In comparison, the Patriots have the 32nd ranked defense in terms of yards allowed, but the 14th ranked defense in terms of points allowed. This indicates that while the Patriots allow a lot of yards, it doesn’t translate into points. The same cannot be said of the Raiders’ defense.
The Raiders’ defense has even bigger issues. The lack of turnovers is killing the Oaklands’ defensive unit. According to NFL Stats, when facing the Raiders’ secondary, opposing quarterbacks have thrown 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions. They’re the only team without an interception this season. That’s a recipe for disaster. Facing a quarterback of Brady’s caliber, expect the Raiders’ defense to get picked apart.
Raiders vs Patriots Betting Lines
Coming into the 2017 season, this two-week stretch for the Patriots looked like a backbreaker. However, having already gone to Denver and crushing the Broncos, returning to Foxborough with a 2-0 record on this road trip will be huge. Expect Brady and the Patriots’ offense to control the clock, while the defense comes up big against Carr and an inconsistent Oakland offense.
Play: Patriots -7.5 @ BetOnline.ag