In Week 15, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots take on Josh McDaniels and the Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders are currently out of the AFC playoffs, while the Patriots currently hold the seventh seed. Both teams have a lot riding on this game since the Patriots need to win to keep possession of the seventh seed and the Raiders need to win to stay “alive.” In light of that, let’s examine three burning questions regarding Week 15.
Patriots vs. Raiders: 3 Burning Questions That’ll Be Answered
Can Raiders HC Josh McDaniels McDaniels keep up with his mentor?
People likely believe that any time Belichick takes on one of his former coaches, the matchup is unfair. But according to NFL.com, Belichick has a 14â€“12 record when playing former players and assistants. The dispute is therefore not as one-sided as anticipated, but against McDaniels it may be. Despite having the better roster on paper, the Raiders don’t have a winning record; the Patriots do. This coaching matchup will probably determine how Sunday turns out.
Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams are the top two playmakers for McDaniels, and Belichick is well aware of this. He’ll make an effort to scheme them out of the game. How will McDaniels react then? Typically, when things go tough this season, McDaniels has not shown the ability to counter. McDaniels must intervene and resist being influenced by Belichick’s coaching antics. You might as well plan on losing if McDaniels concedes to Belichick rather than challenging him head-on.
Assuming they play, will Darren Waller or Hunter Renfrow make a difference?
High hopes were held for the Raiders’ receiving trio of Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow, and Davante Adams going into the season. However, according to Tashan Reed of The Athletic, the trio has only played 62 snaps this season because of injuries. On Wednesday, Waller and Renfrow both went back to practice, and now they have a 21-day window to be added to the active roster. Will they make a difference if they are healthy and play against the Patriots?
In terms of total yards allowed and passing yards allowed, the Patriots’ defense is sixth and ninth, respectively. Although it is unlikely, it is possible for players to find their groove against this defense. I’ll explain why. Belichick is infamous for focusing on the star players on the opposing offense, and in this instance, it’s Adams and Jacobs. And because of the extra attention both Adams and Jacobs will be getting from the Patriots defense, 83 and 13 will possibly have their opportunities to make an impact.
Will the playoffs remain a possibility after Week 15?
Prior to their game in Week 15, the Raiders had a four percent probability of making the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight’s playoff predictor. You’re saying there’s a possibility, then? Well, mathematically yes, but several factors must go the Raiders’ way. But you have to take care of your own business, and the Patriots are the Raiders’ next challenge. Being that Belichick and the Patriots are riding a six-game winning streak over the Raiders, it won’t be simple. To win, the Raiders will need a near-perfect performance from every coach and player on the team. If McDaniels wants to keep the Raiders fans happy, go beat Belichick and keep your season alive.
*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images