The Patriots are the best team in football with a high-powered offense and one of the greatest ever under center. Their defense is outstandingly underrated; they haven’t given up more than 20 points in a game since the first day of October. So, beating Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Co. will be no easy task for the Oakland Raiders. It is, however, possible.
Eliminate the Running Game
If the Patriots have any amount of success running the football in Mexico City, the Silver and Black are in grave danger. In the two losses and the close game against the Texans, the Patriots struggled on the ground. The Pats averaged about 3.5 yards per carry in the opening night loss to the Chiefs. In the loss to the Carolina Panthers and the close win against the Houston Texans, they didn’t reach 100 yards as a team. Brady is going to get “his” but making the Patriots one-dimensional is key, even if that one dimension is outstanding.
Raiders Defense Must Harass Tom Brady without Blitzing
Whatever the reason, the Raiders can’t seem to get to the quarterback very frequently. With a talent like Khalil Mack, this is very disappointing.
This could be the week, however, that the Raiders pass rush takes over. Starting right tackle Marcus Cannon has been nursing an ankle injury that forced him to miss the Patriots last game. His backup, LaAdrain Waddle, and starting left tackle Nate Solder have both amassed PFF grades below 49. The Patriots try to compensate for their tackles ineptitude with help from the tight ends, specifically Dwayne Allen. So, it wouldn’t be the worst idea for the Raiders to blitz a linebacker and have the edge defender to Allen’s side drop into coverage on occasion.
The Raiders mustn’t fall in love with the blitz, however. As you can see from the stat below, Brady has been lethal against blitzes.
Since 2006, Tom Brady has 70 TD and 0 INT against 6+ man blitzes (source: ESPN)
— Scott Kacsmar (@ScottKacsmarNFL) June 21, 2017
Expose the Middle of the Field
On offense, the Raiders have to attack the heart of the defense. The Patriots have two really good corners, Malcolm Butler and Stephen Gilmore. Gilmore and Butler along with Eric Rowe and Patrick Chung can give any wide receiver headaches.
Their linebackers aren’t so great, thankfully. With the injury to stud linebacker Dont’a Hightower, they have a mess in the middle of their defense. Some combination of Shea McClellin, Kyle Van Noy, David Harris, and Elandon Roberts will start in Week 11 against the Raiders. Tight end Jared Cook and running backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington need to feast on the passing game.
When running the ball, the offense needs to again attack the middle. The Patriots defense is quick but pretty light, due to an injury to the massive Malcolm Brown. Hopefully, Raider Nation sees more power running featuring Jamize Olawale this week, although offensive coordinator Todd Downing has proved reluctant to do so.
The Patriots are the heavy favorites and rightfully so. The Raiders, however, have the ability and the quarterback to pull off the upset, we’ll see.