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Old 09-23-2020, 07:21 PM   #1
Teach
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Week Three: Patriots vs. Raiders

The New England Patriots (1-1) return to the friendly confines of “The House That Kraft Built,” Gillette Stadium. The Patriots will square off against the team that used to “(Sit On) The Dock of the Bay,” Oakland, (actually Sausalito) but now reside in Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas. The Silver and Black (2-0) have defeated their first two NFL opponents, Carolina and New Orleans.

As for the Patriots, I’m reminded of a political slogan from years past: “So goes Maine, so goes the nation.” But after FDR overwhelmingly defeated Alf Landon in the 1936 election (Landon carried Maine and one other state, Vermont), some wag said, “So goes Maine, so goes Vermont.”
In the Patriots case, “So goes Cam Newton, so goes Patriots Nation.” I ask: “When in the course of human events,” i.e., professional football, has one player meant so much to any one team’s offense?

Just last week against the Seattle Seahawks, Newton passed for nearly 400 yards. He completed 30 passes in 44 attempts. He also rushed for 47 yards on 11 carries. Newton accounted for 3 of the 4 Patriots touchdowns.

On that matter, in the rushing department, three other Patriots running backs, Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and J.J. Taylor accounted for just 20 yards. As the warden in “Cool Hand Luke” said, “What we have here is a failure to perambulate!”

What’s so amazing about all this is that Cam Newton, either through the air or on the ground, accounted for approximately 95% of the Patriots offense And on that final play against the Seahawks Newton almost rushed for a Patriots victory; he was stopped just a few feet short of the goal-line. Patriots and Seahawks games seem to always come down to those final few feet. They ought to headline the meeting between those two teams: “The Longest Yard.”

As for this Sunday’s game, I don’t believe the Raiders are as strong defensively as the Seahawks. The Patriots have a very good offensive line. The problem with that is, except for Newton, the Patriots don’t have a stable of running backs to go along with that strong offensive unit. Based on that, as each week goes by, Patriots’ opponents will look to find ways to limit Newton’s effectiveness. For example, on obvious passing situations, you might see safety blitzes. On that note, Jon Gruden may try to play ball control. Keep Cam Newton off the field!

Yet, most candidly, the Raiders’ defense can be exploited. The Patriots may be looking to attack “the edges” where Las Vegas appears to be most vulnerable.

Moreover, in the Seattle game, the Patriots passing game looked much improved. Julian Edelman (8 catches for 179 yards) had an outstanding game (he almost caught the game-winning touchdown); he’s catching footballs like the old “Jules.” Yet how much punishment can the former Kent State quarterback take? I suppose if there were a surprise in the passing department, it was last week’s play of N’Keal “I’m Just Wild About” Harry. The Arizona State product struggled mightily during the Tom Brady era; yet he has started to come to life under the tutelage and encouragement of Cam Newton. Harry, most definitely, had his best game as a Patriot. He had 8 catches for 72 yards. Another pleasant surprise for the Patriots was Damiere Byrd. Byrd had 6 catches for 72 yards. This week, against the Raiders, we may see TE Ryan Izzo get more involved in the passing game.

As for the Raiders, will we see head coach Jon Gruden play power football? Will it be the Woody Hayes approach? “Three yards and a cloud of dust” (I doubt you’ll see much dust). Once the Raiders establish the run game with the likes of Josh Jacobs they could turn to their passing game.

Speaking of the passing game, Raiders QB Derek Carr (28 for 38 for 272 yards & 3 TD’s against the Saints) can throw. Carr’s got two “stallions” to throw to: Darren Waller and Henry Ruggs III. There’s also Hunter Renfrow, Bryan Edwards, and Nelson Agholor (over from the Eagles). The Patriots secondary was porous against the Seattle Seahawks. If that group doesn’t improve, it could be a long afternoon for Patriots Nation.

If the Patriots have a glaring weakness, it’s in special teams play. That in itself is surprising given that longtime Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has always prided himself on defensive play and special teams. For example, place-kicker Nick Folk has been an adventure. He has missed a field goal in each of the Patriots games. The one he missed against the Seahawks was costly. In addition, the Seahawks established good field-position when returning Patriots kicks. That could be worth a touchdown.

Finally, one factor I give credence to is psychology. The Raiders are coming off an impressive win over the New Orleans Saints. Las Vegas is looking for their 3rd straight win. I believe the Raiders are reaching a point in the season where they are starting to gel.

The last I saw the Patriots are favored by 6. I’ll take “the dog,” i.e., the Raiders, and give them plenty of leash. Personally, I believe Las Vegas can win outright.

As for the over/under, the last I saw it was 48. I say the game goes “over.” As I sometimes say: “I’m going ‘over’, I’m going ‘over’, and I won’t be back till it’s ‘over’ ‘over’ there (Gillette).”

Oh, one other point. Sunday's weather calls for a fast track. Fair skies, temperatures in the mid-80’s and humid. I believe that can work to Las Vegas’s advantage if Jon Gruden and Raiders can keep the Patriots defense on the field.

Final score: Raiders 41; Patriots 14.
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Old 09-23-2020, 09:43 PM   #2
jimmyb
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I think the late scratch of running back James White due to his fathers death had an effect on the Pats game plan. Hard to alter a game plan at the last minute.
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Old 09-24-2020, 03:10 PM   #3
Robert Fischer
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6pt favorites is tough vs. a hot Raiders team, but the fan in me is rooting for NE to win big.


--------------------------------------------
Bears+3 (vs. Falcons)

Ravens -3.5 (vs. KC)

Broncos +6 (vs Tampa Bay)

Texans +4 (vs Pittsburgh)

= all mildly interesting at first glance /line-movement
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