If the Steelers have a Patriots problem, the Raiders do too.
Earlier this week, Ryan Shazier of the Pittsburg Steelers talked about the New England Patriots being a problem for the rest of the NFL. He pointed out that his team needed to get over the hump in order to get to the Super Bowl and as most of the AFC knows and that includes the Oakland Raiders, the road to “Super Sunday” normally goes through New England.
Shazier said via ESPN that “the NFL has a Patriots problem” and that’s because “They’ve been a great team, they have a great leader, and they just find a way to win.” Similarly, he mentioned that “they have a good strategy in what they want to do. But I feel we are going to be prepared for them this year. I feel we are going to get them when we need to get them.”
Indeed, the league has a Patriot problem as they have played in every single AFC Championship Game since 2011 and won it in 2014 and 2016. That means that if the Raiders want to make a deep run into the playoffs, they will more likely have to face them and although they might be equipped to exchange blows with the Patriots this time around, they have failed to do so since 2002.
2002 was a different time as the Oakland Coliseum was called “Network Associates Coliseum” and Rich Gannon was the quarterback for the Raiders and Charlie Garner was the running back. Tom Brady was already throwing passes for the Patriots, but even Jerry Rice was still in the league. Other than Brady and Sebastian “Seabass” Janikowski, there is no one left from that team (and Brady and Seabass are exceptions age wise).
However, 2017 is no 2002 and the current Raiders roster is the most competent and talented one there has been in many years. Lead by quarterback Derek Carr, the team has very good starters and adequate depth. Moreover, the Raiders will be able to test their worth during the year and before the playoffs on November 19, 2017, in Mexico City.
Going back to Shazier’s original comments, if the Raiders, just like the Steelers, execute and perform at the best of their capacity, they should be able to have a fighting chance against the Patriots.
On the other hand, the Patriots are not pushovers and will not cede any ground and will not go down without leaving everything on the field. They’re the current champions after all and after adding key players such as former Saint Brandin Cooks and ex-Buffalo Bill Stephon Gilmore, the Patriots are in a position to succeed.
The Patriots may end up winning the game, it really can go both ways. Nonetheless, the Raiders have the chance to win this one and even see the Patriots again in the playoffs. Although it would have been crazy to think about it 15 years ago, the league has a “Patriots problem,” and the Raiders are ready to take care of it.