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slides: Watch to Watch For: Patriots vs Raiders

Sunday, November 19, 2017

 

Stephon Gilmore

The New England Patriots (7-2) travel to Mexico City to face the (4-5) Oakland Raiders on Sunday afternoon at Estadio Azteca Stadium. 

This will be the first-ever regular season game that the Patriots have played in Mexico, while Oakland played there last season, beating the Houston Texans in the game. 

"I'm excited for it. It's going to be a lot of fun. I've never been to Mexico City. It's nice that it's here. When the schedule comes out and you kind of figure out where you're playing, this is the kind of game you look forward to, playing against a really good football team in a pretty cool environment. So, it will be very memorable. I think everyone's excited," said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during his press conference on Friday. 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski added, "We're preparing the same as any other game, I would say. Same meeting times, same practice type of schedule and everything, so just preparing the exact same how we have been, so we're ready for Sunday."

Game time is set for 4:25 p.m. 

Patriots vs Raiders

The Patriots and Raiders will meet for the 35th time overall and 32nd time in the regular season with the Patriots leading the all-time series 18-15-1, including 2-1 in the playoffs.

The two teams last played against each other on September 21, 2014, at Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots came away with a 16-9 victory.

This is just the fourth time the two teams have played in the regular season since 1989.

SEE WHAT TO WATCH FOR IN THE SLIDESHOW BELOW

 

Related Slideshow: 5 Things to Watch For: Patriots vs Raiders

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Offensive Line

Center David Andrews and right tackle Marcus Cannon have already been ruled out of the game, meaning there will be changes on the offensive line. 

Second-year player Ted Karras is expected to make the start at center while LaAdrian Waddle will take over over Cannon at right tackle. 

The Raiders defense is led by Kalil Mack, who has 4.5 sacks on the season. He was named the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year. 

"Very talented defensive group who have a lot of very skilled players. Obviously, Khalil Mack and [Bruce] Irvin are a big force. They've done a good job with their inside players - you know, Justin Ellis, Eddie Vanderdoes. Mario Edwards is a very disruptive player. They've got good team speed. Their safeties do a good job - Reggie Nelson, Karl Joseph. They blitz a lot, cause a lot of disruptive plays," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. 

The Patriots have given up 22 sacks on the season. 

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3rd Down

The Patriots will have an opportunity to be aggressive on third down in this one as the Raiders defense is among the worst in the league. 

Oakland gives up 45.7% of third down attempts, which is 31st in the league. 

Oakland also hasn't picked off a pass yet this season and give up an average of 116 yards per game on the ground. 

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Patriots Secondary

The Patriots secondary will face a big challenge on Sunday going against Oakland's top receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. 

Cooper and Crabtree lead the Raiders passing attack with 38 and 29 catches respectively. Both players average just under 13 yards per catch. 

"They've got a lot of good players, got a lot of good backs, got a lot of good tight ends, got a lot of good receivers, good offensive linemen and good quarterback. So, it's pretty much whoever they put out there is pretty good," said Belichick. 

Will the Patriots stick with matching Gilmore and Butler like they did last week in Denver? Or will they go with a zone defense, which is an area that Gilmore struggled with earlier in the season. 

The Patriots defense has given up an average of seven yards per catch, which is ranked 31st in the league. 

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Marshawn Lynch

Marshawn Lynch's return from retirement to play for the Raiders has not gone as planned to this point. 

Lynch is only averaging 3.6 yards per carry and has been suspended once.He has four touchdowns on the season.  However, he has averaged over four yards per carry in his last three games. 

The Raiders have not been over 100 rushing yards as a team in their last three games. They have had games of 32, 23, 88, 54 and 84 on the ground so far this season.

The Patriots run defense is ranked 32nd in the league, giving up five yards per carry. 

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Rex Burkhead

Since returning from injury, Rex Burkhead has proven to be a major weapon for the Patriots offense. 

In his last three games, Burkhead has caught 11 passes for 108 yards on 11 targets and rushed 20 times for 82 yards. 

On the season, Burkhead has two receiving touchdowns. 

 
 

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