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New England Patriots vs Oakland Raiders

MEXICO CITY — Previous to the season, this Patriots-Raiders matchup seemed like a doozy, because the Raiders have been the second finest group within the AFC in 2016 earlier than Derek Carr broke his leg.
However the Raiders have struggled to again it up, and an early four-game dropping streak put them in severe jeopardy of lacking the playoffs. In the meantime, the Patriots are rolling once more, and so they’re placing their five-game profitable streak on the road in Mexico as they proceed their pursuit for the highest seed within the convention.

Look out for that Mack truck
The Patriots have confronted seven go rushers ranked within the high 11 in sacks, and now they need to decelerate 2016 Defensive Participant of the Yr Khalil Mack, who's off to a gradual begin with four.5 sacks. Oakland ranks 23rd in factors allowed, 26th in whole yards, 22nd in passing yards and 21st in dashing yards, so if the Patriots can maintain Mack in test, Tom Brady ought to have the ability to go to work. Left deal with Nate Solder hasn’t allowed a sack in six straight video games. Backup proper deal with LaAdrian Waddle has surrendered three quarterback hits in three prolonged appearances in aid of Marcus Cannon (ankle), and figures to make his third begin with Cannon out. The Pats are at the least trending in the correct route.
Shoulder the load?
Tight finish Martellus Bennett made essentially the most of his seven snaps towards the Broncos, as he caught three passes for 38 yards and reaffirmed his dedication to play by means of a extreme quantity of shoulder ache stemming from a torn rotator cuff and labrum injury, which is nothing new for him. Now with a full week to organize, will the Patriots enhance Bennett’s workload or stay conservative because of the wounded wing? And would both state of affairs influence Dwayne Allen, who has performed 20 snaps in three consecutive video games? Allen had his finest recreation of the season towards the Broncos, and never simply because he lastly caught a go, so it will behoove the Patriots to see if he can develop some momentum for the stretch run.
Backs to the longer term
The Patriots offense has been at its finest when closely incorporating the operating backs, and their roles have developed of late. Surging Dion Lewis has led the group in dashing throughout each recreation of their profitable streak. He’ll proceed to be the best choice for operating between the tackles. That’s not good for Mike Gillislee, who is definitely nonetheless the Patriots’ main rusher regardless of falling out of favor. Gillislee doesn’t have a job on particular groups, and the Patriots are extra predictable with him on the sector. James White continues to be Mr. Clutch within the passing recreation, and he has assist now from Rex Burkhead, whose velocity presents issues for foes. Burkhead additionally had a blocked punt and a deal with in kickoff protection towards the Broncos, so he is aware of the best way to Invoice Belichick’s coronary heart.
Tall hassle?
Raiders receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are persistently productive, and so they’ll be a problem for Patriots corners Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler. The Oakland wideouts are each 6-foot-1, making matchup assignments arduous to foretell. Cooper is perhaps a bit of faster, which might make Butler better-suited. However Cooper is extra productive so Gilmore is perhaps the choose. It’s additionally doable Eric Rowe might return after lacking the final 5 video games with a groin harm. Why else would the Patriots deliver him on the journey once they left different injured gamers at house?
Overseas territory
To get a really feel for the environment in Mexico Metropolis, Tom Brady rewatched final yr’s recreation between the Raiders and Texans. It shouldn’t be too dissimilar to something he has seen earlier than, as there shall be impartial parts that give the gang a Tremendous Bowl really feel, which Brady understands nicely. And Brady has performed two video games in London and dozens and dozens in highway stadiums which can be crammed with Patriots vitriol. The altitude is an element to think about, although. The Patriots practiced in all of it week, so that they obtained used to that side, however a lot of them have handled dryness, sinus points and different parts from the week in Colorado. These determine to be exacerbated throughout the quick stint in Mexico Metropolis. And the Raiders determined to take a fast journey, too, so their incapability to acclimate to the altitude might have an hostile impact on them.

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