It’s all about the defense this Sunday. The performance of the defense will either cement the Raiders as one of the elite teams in the NFL or it will push the Raiders back into mediocrity.
Richard Seymour vs Patriots Offensive line
If the success of the defense relays on the play of the defensive line, then everything starts with Richard Seymour. Seymour has been one the most dominant defensive linemen in football for the past decade and is the defensive captain. If Seymour gets penetration early, look for the doors to open up for other linemen. The Patriots offensive line features all-pro Matt Light and Logan Mankins but will be without starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. Containing the Patriots passing game starts with Seymour up the middle.
Chuck Bresnahan vs Tom Brady
Every defensive scheme has a weakness and Tom Brady will find it if given enough time. The question is can Bresnahan keep Brady guessing? The Raiders must mix up and disguise their coverage well. Bresnahan needs to call blitzes at the right times and find a way to get consistent pressure on Brady. If not, Brady will turn the Raiders injured and inexperienced secondary into Swiss cheese.
Raiders Secondary vs Wes Welker
Being Brady’s favorite target, Welker is on path to put up Madden-like numbers. Last week he had 16 catches, 217 yards and had two touchdowns. That is more catches, more yards and more touchdowns than any Raider receiver has so far this season. Welker is the best slot receivers in football. In a perfect world Stanford Routt would stick with Welker, but this is highly unlikely. Welker will move all around the field and will test the entire secondary. The Raiders secondary needs to do a lot of things right to win this match up. The Raiders defensive backs will have their hands full this Sunday.
Rob Gronkowski vs Mike Mitchell
Mitchell often has been assigned to receiving tight ends. Even though the Raiders will change-up their coverages, look for Mitchell to be around Gronkowski a lot. With the secondary pummeled with injuries, Mitchell will be relied upon heavily in his return to the playing field. Gronkowski, who is Brady’s second favorite target this season, leads all tight ends in catches, reception and touchdowns. Mitchell will be tested early and often.
Rolondo McClain/Quentin Groves vs Danny Woodhead/ BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Woodhead’s versatility could pose problems for the Raiders linebackers. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is an 1,000 yard rusher and often overlooked in the Patriots pass happy offense. Even though McClain and Groves both have made progress this year and have made some plays, both are still inconsistent. This is a match up the Raiders have to win.
Jason Campbell vs Patriots secondary
With Darren McFadden running all over the Jets last weekend, the Patriots will try to stuff the box to test Campbell’s consistency. Campbell needs to make the Patriots pay for loading the box and over playing the run. So far this year Campbell has been very dependable. Expect Campbell to spread the ball around and to take advantage of the league’s worst pass defense. To win this game, Campbell needs to be clutch.
Darren McFadden vs Patriots front seven
New England ranks last in total defense but have a respectable rush defense. Most teams pass on them, but those teams don’t have Darren McFadden. The Raiders will need McFadden to pound the football, pick up first downs and control the clock. The Raiders need to win the time of possession battle and that rests mostly with the success of Darren McFadden/
Hue Jackson vs, Bill Belichick
For the Raiders to win Hue Jackson must outwit Belichick. These two playcallers will match wits when the Raiders have the ball. Belichick’s defense has been atrocious, Jackson’s offense has been great. Belichick will likely have to load up the box to stop Oakland’s running game. For the Raiders to win, Hue needs to call the right plays to maintain long drives and make Belichick pay for sneaking up a safety.
Don’t forget to check out Bram Makonda’s Raiders Fantasy Outlook.