As the pupil and master square off, the level of tension will be at an all-time high. The Bill Belichick-led New England Patriots play the Josh McDaniels-led Las Vegas Raiders. Belichick cannot enter the Raiders’ home and defeat them in front of McDaniels. If the Silver and Black still have playoff hopes, anything less than a victory is acceptable. There are a couple of intriguing matchups in this one based on narratives and storylines. But in light of that, let’s break down three important matchups worth following in Week 15.
Patriots vs. Raiders: Matchup No. 1 – Patrick Graham vs. Matt Patricia
The Raiders and Patriots are polar opposites when seen in the big picture. The Raiders struggle defensively, and the Patriots struggle on the offensive side of the ball. The coordinators of those two units are responsible for a significant portion of these problems. According to ESPN, Patricia’s offense is in the bottom 10 in terms of yards per game, while Graham’s defense ranks in the bottom 10 in terms of yards allowed per game. Therefore, something must budge, right?
The game may be defined by this combat, despite how dull it appears on paper. Graham will do well for the Raiders if he can stifle Patricia’s offensive output. Graham, however, has had trouble containing offenses in 2022. The Raiders are in a better position since Graham has experience as a defensive coordinator and this is Patricia’s first year calling plays. It is the battle of coordinators who are having bad years; whoever answers the call will help lead their team to victory.
Patriots vs. Raiders: Matchup No. 2 -Â Jermaine Eluemunor vs. Matthew Judon
Eluemunor has been outstanding for the Raiders for several weeks, but he faces a difficult test this week. The co-league leader in sacks will be in town, looking to reclaim the lead. When you factor in Eluemunor’s injury, things could get ugly. However, Eluemunor, on the other hand, cannot be written off. Judon plays with a tremendous amount of energy and possesses excellent pass-rushing abilities, creating a threat on every single pass play.
Since he hasn’t allowed a sack in weeks, Eluemunor isn’t exactly a slouch. If Eluemunor can compete with Judon, the Raiders can send help elsewhere along the offensive line. However, the Raiders will probably have to double Judon if he is unable to do so. The other Patriots defensive linemen would have more one-on-one opportunities as a result. Let’s hope for the sake of Derek Carr that this isn’t a one-sided battle.
Patriots vs. Raiders: Matchup No. 3 – Duron Harmon vs. Hunter Henry
Although the Patriots’ passing game is a snooze, they do have some weapons. Henry is a player the Raiders will need to watch out for. Harmon is the only one who can be relied upon to defend him. Henry is a reliable tight end for the Patriots who finds ways to get open despite his lackluster athleticism. It’s fortunate for the Raiders that Harmon is a smart safety who can cover Henry. The Patriots’ offense will struggle even more if the center of the field isn’t open. Hopefully Harmon can lock down Henry, which would then allow the rest of the defense to focus on everyone else.
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