The Raiders vs. Patriots looks to be a hard-fought contest between one team looking to continue an unbeaten early 2020 and another looking to solidify a new identity with a new quarterback.
The Las Vegas Raiders enter Week 3 of the 2020 NFL season at a somewhat surprising 2-0 mark. Although they’re a long way from earning the national respect many deserve, a win on the road in a short week could do just that. Raiders vs. Patriots has the makings of an old-school AFC shootout.
The Raiders travel east for the second time in three weeks to take on a new-look New England Patriots team. Gone are future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady and his six Super Bowl rings. New England though still has Bill Belichick and now a resurgent Cam Newton and somehow may have a better offense post-Brady. Even with another tough opponent on the docket, the Raiders seem up to the challenge. There are a few key matchups in Raiders vs. Patriots that may help determine the outcome of the AFC matchup.
Raiders vs. Patriots: Vegas Interior D-Line Vs. Patriots Interior O-Line
The Raiders pass rush has been anemic thus far in 2020. With another great offensive line across from them, it may not get better. In order to win at Foxborough, it must. Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason create an above-average guard duo in this league but they usually have center David Andrews to help hold down the interior. Andrews has been ruled out with a broken thumb them meaning Hjalte Froholdt will be taking his first career snaps at center for the Patriots. There is an opportunity there for the Raiders. It’s imperative the Raiders generate pressure inside as seen on Monday Night on Brees interception. It helps create turnovers. In addition, Mo Hurst and Maliek Collins are both guys the Raiders expect a lot from and Sunday could be a huge game for both guys.
Darren Waller Vs. Whatever Bellicheck is Cooking
“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a guy like this,” Bellicheck said. That Belichick missive has been running rampant on social media implying they will do anything to not let Waller beat them. A wise move by Bellicheck after Waller’s 12-catch, 103-yard evening on national television. With Henry Ruggs out, and a banged-up offensive line, it’s imperative the Raiders get Waller involved somehow. This is going to be a chess match between two coaches and as Gruden has shown he will design plays for Waller regardless of the defense shown. Whether Bellicheck runs a double team, or they chip him at the line consistently, this matchup is going to be huge on Sunday.
Lamarcus Joyner vs. Julian Edelman
This is the matchup that may keep Raider fans up at night. One of the best slot wideouts in football versus a guy that has underperformed since being in a Raider uniform. Edelman is averaging 118 yards per game through two weeks, while Joyner has allowed 11 receptions on 15 targets. Joyner looks mildly improved over last season, and without a camp this off-season, and it may take him a couple of weeks to get on his feet. While Edelman is drooling at this matchup, it’s a week-to-week league. It would be a perfect moment for Joyner to win over the hearts of Raider fans and help his team. The Raiders must be physical with Edelman and not let him have easy chances.
Cam Newton Vs. Corey Littleton
It seems every week, I have Corey Littleton on here somewhere. The Raiders paid him for a reason. Through two weeks, Littleton has played well but been slow to impact games. I expect him to play a huge role this week in neutralizing Cam Newton in the Raiders vs. Patriots matchup. Newton will make some mistakes in the pocket, but keeping him there is a problem. He has 122 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the season and that will be a major part of the gameplan again. The Raiders could attempt to neutralize Newton by using Littleton as a spy. Forcing Newton to beat you in the air, with a lack of weapons is the recipe to win this game. Although I must note: last week against Seattle, Newton had a banner day passing connecting with 10 receivers and passing for nearly 400 yards. As with Bellicheck and Waller, the Raiders have been in the lab game planning around Newton’s feet (and now arm) and I expect them to be successful in doing so. If Newton and the Patriots are to beat the Raiders, Las Vegas must force him to do it through the air.