The Patriots return home this week to face the Las Vegas Raiders…it is going to take a while to get used to saying that. This will be a big game for both teams. The Raiders are 2-0 and have won two close games. The Patriots lost to Seattle but there is a lot of optimism in the air about where the team is going.
This week’s game will once again draw the top broadcast team of CBS on Sunday, September 27 at 1:00 p.m. and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Jim Nantz will handle play-by-play duties with Tony Romo as the color analyst. Tracy Wolfson will work from the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.
The Patriots (1-1) lost to the Seahawks 35-30 as Russell Wilson tossed five touchdown passes against the Patriots secondary. Cam Newton passed for 397 yards and rushed for 47 more but was stuffed at the one-yard line on the last play of the game.
The Raiders (2-0) beat the Saints 34-24 as Derek Carr completed 28-38 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns. Josh Jacobs rushed 27 times for 88 yards and Darren Waller caught 12 passes for 103 yards and a score.
We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2020 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.
The Patriots and Raiders have been going at it since 1960 and will meet for the 36th time this Sunday in Gillette Stadium. The Patriots own a close 19-15-1 advantage overall including 2-1 in the playoffs against the Raiders.
The Patriots have an 11-5-1 record at home against Vegas, and Bill Belichick is 6-1 against the Raiders as head coach of the Patriots. The last time the teams met was in 2017 in Mexico City where the Patriots cruised 33-8.
So, without further ado, here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.
First up is the Patriots offense:
Patriots RBs vs Raiders Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England
The Patriots running game never got untracked against Seattle with the running backs getting only 20 yards and Cam Newton gaining the rest. That should change this week with the Pats returning home and getting the offensive linemen moving forward again.
The Raiders weren’t good at stopping the run a year ago and they haven’t been again so far this year, allowing 4.9 yards per rushing attempt. They have some talent up front with Jonathan Hankins, Clelin Farrell, Maxx Crosby, and Maliek Collins, but this is a matchup the Patriots should win.
Neither Sony Michel nor Rex Burkhead has lit the world on fire yet, but this is a week that they may target those off-tackle runs to the edge. Another guy to keep an eye on, besides Newton will be J.J. Taylor this week. James White is doubtful this week after the death of his father and having his mom still in the hospital.
Patriots WRs vs Raiders Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England
The Patriots passing game took off in a big way last Sunday in Seattle. Cam Newton passed for nearly 400 yards. His pass protection was very good. Julian Edelman had a career-high 179 yards and consistently went in harm’s way, where he always has. But he’s banged up. The team needs more of what they saw from Damiere Byrd and N’Keal Harry on Sunday.
The Raiders secondary is young and full of promise but is also full of inexperience. Led by 2nd-year safety Jonathan Abram, who only played in one game last year, they are still finding their feet in the NFL. Cornerbacks Damon Arnette and Trayvon Mullen on the outside have lots of upside. The pass rush, especially from Crosby needs to get it going.
Newton will continue to lean on Edelman, but this is a good time to get his younger tight ends Devin Asiasi and possibly Dalton Keane (who was removed from the injury report) involved. Burkhead and Taylor out of the backfield could be targeted frequently in this one. With the linebackers having to stay home with Newton, they may have some room to move underneath.
Next up the Las Vegas offense:
Raiders RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Las Vegas
The Patriots run defense has been an area of concern and on Sunday night they were gashed by the Seahawks for over 150 yards. Without a true NT with Beau Allen on IR, their two-gapping style hasn’t been successful upfront. Josh Jacobs is the kind of running back that could hammer the Patriots if they’re not up to the task.
Tackle Trent Brown was out last week and Richie Incognito was placed on IR this week. So, the offensive line is hurting a bit. Denzelle Good and John Simpson have stepped up and played well.
After going to lighter packages last week, it will be interesting to see if the Patriots use heavier ones this week. Rookie LBer Anfernee Jennings could see some more work this week. And it will be interesting to see if they get hard-hitting rookie safety Kyle Dugger more work this week
Raiders WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England
The Patriots secondary was torched by Russell Wilson last week for five touchdowns. Vegas’ Derek Carr has the athletic tight end Darren Waller who caught 12 passes for 103 yards on Monday night. They have good depth with Tyrell Williams, Nelson Agholor, Bryan Edwards, Zay Jones who made a nice touchdown grab against New Orleans, with Hunter Renfrow doing some nice work out of the slot as Carr’s safety valve.
And they drafted Henry Ruggs this spring. Ruggs has true raw speed, running the 2nd fastest 40 time in the history of the Combine. Jon Gruden has plans on using him much like the Chiefs use Tyreek Hill, running deep routes out of the slot. He is electric with the ball in his hands.
So, why does New England get the edge here? They’ve faced Carr a couple of times and they have been able to hold him to under 10 points in each game. While the Raiders have scored 34 points the first two weeks, I think Bill Belichick will scheme up something to keep them from reaching that this week. Josh Uche was removed from the injury report, it would be nice to see him get in his first game action.
Special Teams- Razor’s Edge Las Vegas
New England has the shaky Nick Folk, who is just 1-3 on FG attempts thus far this year, Jake Bailey is picking up right where he left out last year and is outstanding. While the coverage units are solid, they didn’t have a great game on Sunday, the return game remains a question mark.
Vegas kicker Daniel Carson has been solid tin 2020 and nailed a 54-yarder in the final two minutes to put away the Saints. A.J. Cole is a solid if unspectacular punter and the return game has Jalen Richard and Renfrow for the Raiders
Next up, who wins and why…
This is a very intriguing matchup, Gruden and Mike Mayock are building a good team and they are on the rise. They have a lot of young, talented, and inexperienced players.
The Patriots have a lot of youth and inexperience as well, the team went through big changes this spring. The offense looked really good running the ball Week 1, and passing the ball in Week 2. Now they’d like to put both together.
Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:
Get the Tight Ends More Involved – The Patriots invested in a pair of intriguing rookie tight ends in Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keane. The latter of whom was just removed from the injury report. One way to reduce the beating that Julian Edelman is already taking by going over the middle is having the tight ends attack the seams and the middle of the field more often.
Ryan Izzo has caught a few passes thus far, but he’s more of a blocker and in the passing game, he is what he is at this point. Newton had Edelman, Harry, and Byrd all involved in the passing game last week. Mixing in the backs and the tight ends will just put more pressure on the defense, which still has to account for his running ability.
Tighten Up the Run Defense – Without Beau Allen at nose tackle, the team has struggled to get the necessary containment upfront, and the inexperience at linebacker has made things more difficult. This has been compounded somewhat by going with lighter packages designed to aid in the pass defense.
But they don’t want Jacobs running up big chunks of yardage which will open up the passing game and make play action even more effective. We like to see more of the rookie linebackers (Jennings, Uche) in this one and force the Raiders to be a bit more one-dimensional this week.
Rebound Week for the Secondary – Wilson had a fantastic game last week and the bottom line is, he’s going to do that to a lot of defenses this year. The Patriots need to put that game behind them and move on to another quality opponent. And they should play much better this week.
The Raiders have some very good weapons in the passing game but the Patriots secondary should also matchup pretty well with them with the depth they have in the secondary. Stopping Waller should be a top priority and this seems like a good game to put Joejuan Williams on him. And it should be an intriguing matchup to watch. Another one will be Henry Ruggs out of the slot against Jonathan Jones.
This should be a great matchup between two pretty evenly matched teams. Both the Patriots and Raiders have rosters that are trending upward. Although still early in the season it is an important game for both teams. The Raiders are trying to keep pace with the Chiefs in the AFC West, while the Patriots are a game behind the Bills in the East.
We’re looking for Newton to continue to improve in his mastery of the offense and his ability to stress the defense will be a key to keeping the Patriots offense on the field and keeping Carr and Co. off of it. The Raiders are coming off a hard-fought Monday night win, coupled with a short week and having to travel across the country. A late score this week will put the team over the top. Patriots 31-24
Posted Under: 2020 Patriots Season
Tags: Anfernee Jennings Bill Belichick Cam Newton Derek Carr Devin Asiasi James White Jon Gruden Josh Jacobs Josh Uche Julian Edelman Las Vegas Raiders N'Keal Harry New England Patriots NFL Patriots Sony Michel Stephon Gilmore