Week 11 Tale Of The Tape: New England Patriots vs. Oakland Raiders (Mexico City)
- QuarterbackThe Patriots may have started the season slowly, but they take a five-game winning streak into this game. The offense has been on fire, and Tom Brady remains at the top of his game. Brady has been getting much stronger protection from his offensive line after that unit started slowly, and he is throwing for 297.4 yards per game with a spectacular 19-2 TD-interception ratio.The Raiders had a sluggish first half of the season, but they are coming off their bye week and Derek Carr should be healthy for this game. If Carr had stayed healthy last year, a confrontation between Brady and the Oakland quarterback could have taken place in the playoffs. Carr has a strong, accurate arm and a quick release and he is completing 65.2 percent of his passes.
- OffenseWhile the Patriots don’t have a dominating running back as they did a year ago when LeGarrette Blount wore a New England uniform, the Patriots are getting solid contributions from Mike Gillislee, Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead. Wideout Brandin Cooks gives Brady a fast big-play threat, while Danny Amendola can catch nearly anything he can touch. Rob Gronkowski remains the best tight end in the game.The Raiders were hoping that Marshawn Lynch and Jalen Richard could give them a dangerous running game, but they have been ordinary to this point. Wideout Michael Crabtree is having a fine year with 36-451-6, and they are hoping that Amari Cooper can step it up after an ordinary first half. TE Jared Cook is becoming one of Carr’s favorite receivers.
- DefenseThe Patriots had huge defensive issues at the start of the season, and that’s why they still rank 32nd in yards allowed. However, the Pats have improved since then and Matt Patricia’s unit is doing a better job of holding opponents to field goals and not allowing touchdowns. FS Devin McCourty has a great understanding of what the opposing offense is trying to do and he has a team-high 62 tackles.The Raiders have to pick it up defensively over the second half of the season, and the key to this is OLB Khalil Mack, who has the physicality and nastiness to dominate. Mack has 4.5 sacks, and he needs to have a dozen or more by the end of the season. The Raiders have yet to register an interception, and the key to changing that is an improved pass rush and more aggressive play from the secondary.
- Special TeamsOne of the reasons the Pats continue to win week after week and year after year is the consistent play from their special teams. They returned a kickoff for a TD and blocked a punt in the Week 10 win over the Broncos, and PK Stephen Gostkowski remains one of the best in the league.The Raiders have some special weapons on special teams, including kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson who has the speed to run away from coverage teams if he can make the first man miss. Punter Marquette King has the strongest leg in the league.
Look for a high-scoring game between these two teams for the Mexican fans. Neither team is solid defensively, and if the Raiders are going to get the victory, they cannot settle for field goals and must punch the ball into the endzone.