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Photo Credit: Brian Blanco/AP

Game Preview: Raiders vs Patriots – Week 3

Las Vegas Raiders (2-0) | New England Patriots (1-1)


The Las Vegas Raiders look to stay undefeated as they head into New England to face a new look Patriots.


The last time your Las Vegas Raiders started the season 3-0 was back in 2002 when they finished the season 11-5. Later that same year, the Raiders went on to play in Super Bowl 37, where they lost to John Gruden and his former team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now, here they are, coming off a big first-ever home victory seeking to go 3-0 for the first time in over 18 years.


This challenge will not be easy. The Raiders are up against a healthy Cam Newton and a highly-rated defense ran by arguably one of the greatest coaches of all time.


Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports

After a 20 year reign from Tom Brady, the Patriots acquired the former NFL MVP, Cam Newton this past offseason. Newton came into this season with almost a year off from football due to his recovery from injuries to his throwing shoulder and knee. The injuries sidelined him in his last couple of years in Carolina and consequently created doubt amongst NFL teams whether he could return to what he once was.

Here we are, two weeks into the new season, after witnessing how this new look Patriots offense is a legitimate threat against NFL teams. In his first game in new threads, Newton rushed for 75 yards to go along with two touchdowns. This was the most rushing yards in a game by a quarterback under Bill Belichick. To put things into perspective, in just one game, Cam Newton eclipsed what Tom Brady recorded in two seasons with the Patriots. In the 2018 and 2019 seasons, Brady rushed for a total of 69 yards total.

This offense has implemented read options, quarterback runs, and sneaks that can open up more opportunities for their other skill guys. As a defense, you don’t know what you’re going to get out of this offense. They are a threat to beat you through the air and are capable of running it down your throat.

Not to forget that the Patriots are still a force to reckon with on the defensive side as well. In 2019, they were the best-ranked defense in the NFL. They were first in points allowed per game, first in percentage on 3rd down completions, total takeaways, and the list goes on. Grant it; the Patriots had six players opt out of the 2020 season for COVID-19 related reasons, including notable defenders Dont’a Hightower and Patrick Chung. However, as we can see, never count out Belichick and his crew to be serious contenders.


The Las Vegas Raiders have a couple of keys to being successful in New England.


It all starts with the Raiders defense. The Raiders front 7 have to put more pressure on the quarterbacks as they’ve only recorded one sack so far this season. In doing so, it allows quarterbacks too much time in the pocket to find an open receiver. This is why we’ve seen the Raiders give up 260 plus passing yards and high scoring games from the first two weeks. The defensive-line must come out strong this Sunday because the Patriots’ backfield will make you pay. Their quarterback can scramble or take off from the pocket, causing some serious problems for Las Vegas’ defense.


Raiders vs Panthers
Photo Credit: Brian Blanco/AP

The Silver and Black offense needs to keep their momentum going against a challenging defense in New England. Fortunately, the offense has been the game-changer in the team’s two wins. Whether it’s been Josh Jacobs going for three touchdowns, or Derek Carr throwing for three of them in a game, whatever it is, the offense is coming through big time.

D.C. has had a great start to the season with a 73% completion percentage, 521 passing yards, and four touchdowns. However, we still have yet to see the connection between Carr and his receivers out wide. The Raiders run an offense predicated on using their tight ends and backs, typically in short-range completions. This leaves players like Hunter Renfrow, Henry Ruggs III, and Bryan Edwards with less receiving production.

Why fix something that isn’t broken? I’ll tell you why… We see great teams like the Patriots be successful year after year because they are always changing and adjusting schemes. Opposing teams will pick up on tendencies and target their weaknesses, which is why we need to see Carr use the deep threats. The Raiders drafted Ruggs III for this very reason; to utilize his speed to spread out the field. Even if not targeted, Ruggs attracts attention from defensive backs for other wideouts to get involved.

It is only two weeks into the 2020 NFL season, so there is still a lot of football left to play and a lot more to see for this Vegas team.


Do not miss this exciting matchup between the Las Vegas Raiders and New England Patriots. Kickoff is at 10:00am PT on CBS.


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Justin Brooks – Franchise Sports Media

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