It will be too warm for any obvious but miscalled fumbles, but the Raiders and Patriots renew their rivalry in Mexico City with Oakland in bad need of a hallmark win to set the tone for a playoff run.
Before the season started, many looked at this week’s game featuring the Oakland Raiders and the New England Patriots as a possible AFC title game matchup.
We love our fans down in Mexico. We love playing in front of them because Raider Nation is everywhere for us. It’ll definitely be a home game, that’s for sure. – Derek Carr, Raiders quarterback
Well, the Patriots have lived up to the billing, while the Raiders have not. New England has gotten off to a 7-2 start on the season, while the Raiders have had to win two of their last three games just to get to 4-5.
And with this “home game” taking place in Mexico City, it will be imperative that Raider Nation makes it travel plans in order for Oakland to have much of a chance against Tom Brady and company.
“You know I think for us, we’ve done such a good job of being able to travel and being able to make it just like home,” said quarterback Derek Carr, whose team is coming off a bye week. “Especially taking a week off into Sarasota and those kinds of things. We’ve done that a couple of times. I feel like we’re used to it now. We love our fans down in Mexico. We love playing in front of them because Raider Nation is everywhere for us. It’ll definitely be a home game, that’s for sure.”
The Raiders will travel to Mexico City on Saturday, a day before the game, just as the did last year when they beat the Houston Texans, 27-20.
But they won’t be facing Brock Osweiler this year.
The Patriots are defending Super Bowl champions, and they haven’t really missed a beat this season. New England is averaging 28.6 points per game, fourth in the league, and are first in total offensive yards with 409.4.
The Raiders beleaguered defensive backfield may be short starter David Amerson, who did not practice on Wednesday. Fortunately for the Raiders, the New England receiving corp is pretty banged up too, with wide receivers Chris Hogan and Matthew Slater non-participants in Wednesday’s practice and Danny Amendola limited.
Unfortunately, tight end Rob Gronkowski is healthy. Brady’s favorite target has 38 catches for 583 yards and five touchdowns on the season.
To help acclimate to the high altitude of Mexico City, the Patriots have been staying and practicing in Colorado Springs this week.
On offense, it will be important for the Raiders to run the ball effectively in order to keep the Patriots offense off the field. Marshawn Lynch returned from a suspension last week to post one of his best effort as a Raider two weeks ago against Miami with two touchdowns and 47 yards rushing.
Game time is 1:25 p.m. in Estadio Azteca. New England opened as a 5.5 point favorite and has since been bet up to 7 points. The total opened at 50 points, but has been bet up to 54.5 points.
Note: Here’s just one video to motivate Raider Nation to will its team onto victory. ‘Member?