The Patriots head down south to Mexico City later today to face the Oakland Raiders at Estadio Azteca. In the preseason, this matchup was billed as a must-watch game between 2 of the AFC’s best teams, but now it pits the 7-2 Patriots against the underperforming 4-5 Raiders.
Here are a few things to consider leading up to today’s game
1. Tom Brady and the New England offense against Oakland’s defense
TB12 and the Brady Bunch were hitting on all cylinders during last week’s blowout win at Denver, where all facets of the offense performed well. This week they face off against a porous Oakland defense, which has serious concerns in the secondary (they rank 22nd in passing yards and last in opposing QBR). Oakland is slightly better against the run, so it will be interesting to see what combination Josh McDaniels decides to use against them. The Patriots are missing 2 starters on their offensive line (Marcus Cannon and David Andrews), but may face a favorable matchup against Oakland’s anemic pass rush.
2. The Patriots’ defense against Oakland’s offense
The Patriots’s defense has performed well over the last five games, holding their opponents to under 17 points per game. They will be facing a heavily inconsistent Oakland offense that doesn’t resemble the dynamic lineup from last year. The Patriots cannot afford to let their guard down, as Oakland is loaded on offense with several talented players such as Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Jared Cook, and Marshawn Lynch. Two intriguing matchups to watch during the game will be the Patriots’ front seven against Oakland’s rushing attack, and the Patriots’ secondary against Oakland’s receivers.
3. Will Mexico City’s altitude affect the game?
Mexico City has an altitude of 7,382 feet, so it is fair to question if this will have any impact on today’s game. The Patriots fresh off a game in the Mile High city of Denver opted to practice this week at Colorado’s Air Force Academy, in order to become acclimated to playing at high altitudes. Oakland took a different route, and decided to practice at home, as they thought that it would help them prepare better. Will the decision to practice at high altitudes give the Patriots an advantage?
Taking these factors into consideration, I still expect the Patriots to pull out a win in Mexico City. TB12 and the offense should make life miserable for Oakland’s secondary, and the Pats’ defense will likely continue to play efficiently.
Prediction: Patriots 31, Raiders 17