This one should be interesting.
The New England Patriots are entering unchartered territory, as it takes on the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City, Mexico at Estadio Azteca at 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS.
The Raiders come into today’s contest a bit more prepared for what they will face in terms of logistics, as they defeated the Houston Texans last year 27-20.
The defensive line of the Patriots could be receiving a boost of sorts, as defensive tackle Malcom Brown is questionable to play. The Texas Longhorn product has been sidelines the past few weeks with an ankle injury, and was a limited participant at practice.
New England has ruled out wide receiver Chris Hogan, special teams ace Matthew Slater, tackle Marcus Cannon, and center David Andrews.
With two starting offensive lineman out, it will be imperative for the rest of the crew to try and keep the pressure off Tom Brady. You can expect quick passes on slant routes as well as throws to the flat for the quartet of running backs in James White, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, and Mike Gillislee.
The team will be wary of linebackers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, as well as the physical cornerback in Sean Smith.
On the defensive side of the ball, it will be interesting to see how Malcolm Butler responds after a tough outing last week in which he allowed Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to six receptions and 136 yards. He seems as though the once thought of staple to the Patriots defense has lost a bit of his swagger whenever the higher paid Stephon Gilmore is on the field.
Regardless, both Gilmore and Butler will have tough assignments in Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper, respectively. While Cooper hasn’t had the greatest season thus far, it doesn’t mean that he is a slouch, as he is more than capable of racking up numbers.
Derek Carr is a top-10 quarterback in this league, and was even higher before he suffered a season-ending broken fibula in 2016, and is just a few weeks removed from recovering after enduring through a transverse process fracture in his back.
Simply put, Carr and the Raiders have not performed to expectations this year, even with the addition of veteran running back Marshawn Lynch.
If the Patriots want to keep pace with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the battle for first place in the AFC, they need to take care of business today.