The Las Vegas Raiders are riding high off two straight victories as they enter Week 3 of the NFL season. After an upset victory against the New Orleans Saints, the team travels east to face the New England Patriots. However, the Silver and Black face one of the NFL’s greatest coaches in Bill Belichick on a short week. The following three keys will be essential to a third straight Raiders victory.
Prepare for Belichick to Take Away Darren Waller
While the Raiders are entering Sunday off a victory, the Patriots cannot say the same after a road loss to the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday. Since 2001, Belichick-led Patriot teams have a 43-14 record in games that follow losses the previous week. Subsequently, New England has also had an extra day to prepare compared to the Raiders this week. As a result, the legendary coach in Foxborough, Massachusetts has undoubtedly spent time on developing ways to take the Silver and Black’s top receiving target away.
Bill Belichick loves him some Darren Waller. pic.twitter.com/hbiO2Ey2FZ
— Joe Spadoni (@spadoni_joe) September 22, 2020
As a defensive mastermind, ‘the hoodie’ has put together legendary game plans to shut out some of the NFL’s elite players over his 21-year coaching tenure with the Patriots. With one of the best secondary’s in the NFL this season, expect them to blanket Waller. It is up to head coach Jon Gruden to utilize other offensive players while still making Waller effective enough to draw coverage away from other receivers.
The Raiders must contain Cam Newton and Julian Edelman
Patriots starting quarterback Cam Newton has shown this season that he is more than just healthy. He is one of the NFL’s most dynamic playmakers in 2020.
— NFL (@NFL) September 23, 2020
Newton is the engine that keeps the Patriots offense moving, not just with his arm but with his legs as well. The former 2015 NFL MVP leads this New England team with 122 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in two games played this season. In addition, Newton’s ability to scramble when containment is broken is second to none. The Raiders cannot afford to allow plays like the one below to occur if they want to win.
After that, just when opposing team’s start to hone in on their rushing attack, ‘1’ finds a long time staple of the Patriots aerial attack.
Question: What made you keep going back to Julian Edelman (8 catches, 179 yards)?
Cam Newton: "He's Jules. That's why."
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) September 21, 2020
Per Pro Football Focus, Julian Edelman has played 75 of his total 90 offensive snaps from the slot receiver position this year. Raiders cornerback Lamarcus Joyner has amassed 94 snaps from the slot corner position. Unlike Edelman, Joyner has not seen as much success. When targeted in coverage, Joyner has allowed a 68.8% completion rate. In other words, if he is able to perform at a higher level; it may just be the deciding factor in a Raiders victory on Sunday.
No Room for Turnovers or Penalties
Last but not least, the Raiders have to keep up their relatively clean football play. Between penalties and minimal turnovers, the Raiders in 2020 are a more disciplined team than those seen in recent years.
Put this in a time capsule — #Raiders six penalties are second-fewest in NFL. Only team with fewer? New England, with five. Raiders have zero pre-snap penalties.
— Jerry McDonald (@Jerrymcd) September 25, 2020
However, the Patriots are just as disciplined. The team that commits the least amount of mistakes on Sunday will more than likely be the victor as both teams are evenly matched.
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Top Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe