If they want to have any shot at salvaging their season, the New England Patriots cannot wait to get back into the win column. They need to earn a victory this week, against a Las Vegas Raiders team they are quite familiar with.
Not only did the two teams cross paths last season as well, the Raiders have several connections to New England — starting with head coach Josh McDaniels and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The Las Vegas version of the “Patriot Way” has not yielded much success for the franchise so far, however.
This year was more of the same, with the team underwhelming on both sides of the ball so far.
- Record: 2-3 (3rd AFC West)
- Offense: 15.8 points/game (t-29th), 281.2 yards/game (29th), -0.087 EPA/play (24th)
- Defense: 22.8 points/game (t-20th), 326.6 yards/game (14th), 0.058 EPA/play (27th)
- Scoring differential: -35 (27th)
- Turnover differential: -7 (29th)
Despite the team earning a win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, the Raiders have been one of the statistically worst teams in the league this year. The offense has struggled to produce consistently and take care of the football, whereas the defense has not been able to provide much of a reprieve either.
With that all said, let’s take a closer look at New England’s Week 6 opponent and what to expect of the players on its roster.
(Note: 53-man roster up-to-date as of Thursday, 7 a.m. ET; *indicates projected starter)
Jimmy Garoppolo* (10), Brian Hoyer (7), Aidan O’Connell (4)
After his tenure in San Francisco came to an end, Garoppolo reunited with his former offensive coordinator in Las Vegas. So far, the reunion has not yielded the desired results. While Garoppolo is completing a high percentage of passes, going 86-of-125 for 917 and six touchdowns, he also has thrown seven interceptions already this season.
For a Patriots team that has picked off only one pass so far this season, Garoppolo might provide some opportunities.
Josh Jacobs* (8), Jakob Johnson (45 | FB), Ameer Abdullah (22), Zamir White (35), Brandon Bolden (34)
Josh Jacobs has not been as efficient as he has been in years past, averaging only 2.9 yards on his 82 carries so far totaling 235 yards while also scoring a pair of touchdowns. He has, however, been productive as a receiver out of the backfield: he ranks third on the team with 23 catches that he took for 193 yards.
The other backs on the roster play a comparatively marginal role for the Raiders this season, including two more ex-Patriots: fullback Jakob Johnson and special teams ace Brandon Bolden.
Davante Adams* (17), Jakobi Meyers* (16), Hunter Renfrow (13), DeAndre Carter (3 | KR | PR), Tre Tucker (11), Kristian Wilkerson (83)
Led by the trio of Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers and Hunter Renfrow, Las Vegas fields a talented group of wide receivers. Adams is the top dog, leading the team in catches (37), yards (442) and touchdowns (3), but Meyers has productive as well: the former Patriot has caught 25 passes for 274 yards and three scores so far. Renfrow, meanwhile, has been quiet and has only 59 receiving yards on six catches.
The depth wideouts also deserve some mention, with DeAndre Carter serving as Las Vegas’ return man and Tre Tucker actually ranking second on the team in rushing yards: he has gained 50 combined yards on two carries.
Austin Hooper* (81), Michael Mayer* (87), Jesper Horsted (80)
The Raiders invested a second-round draft pick in Michael Mayer this year, but he has been relatively quiet despite playing a high number of snaps. Meyer has caught three passes for 41 yards, not quite matching the 6-for-62 stat-line put up by de facto starter Austin Hooper.
Kolton Miller* (74 | LT), Jermaine Eluemunor* (72 | RT), Justin Herron (71), Thayer Munford (77)
While not as bad as the Patriots’ offensive line overall, the Raiders’ also has not played its best football so far this season. The starting tackle duo of Kolton Miller and Jermaine Eluemunor, for example, has combined to give up eight sacks on the year — even worse than the six surrendered by New England’s tackle group.
Interior offensive line
Dylan Parham* (66 | LG), Andre James* (68 | C), Greg Van Roten* (70 | RG), Jordan Meredith (61)
The Raiders’ interior O-line has also not had its best season so far, being uneven in pass protection and clearing space for Josh Jacobs. As opposed to New England’s, however, it has been quite stable: Dylan Parham, Andre James and Greg Van Rtoen have combined to miss just one of a cumulative 924 offensive snaps so far this season.
Interior defensive line
John Jenkins* (95), Bilal Nichols* (91), Adam Butler (69), Jerry Tillery (90), Byron Young (93), Nesta Jade Silvera (99)
While John Jenkins and Bilal Nichols are the nominal starters along the Raiders’ interior defensive line, the team is using a heavy rotation that also features ex-Patriot Adam Butler and former first-round draft pick Jerry Tillery. Despite having strength in numbers, the group’s overall performance has been uneven particularly when it comes to generating pressure: the four of them have combined for only 16 quarterback pressures, including one sack.
Maxx Crosby* (98), Tyree Wilson* (9), Malcolm Koonce (51), Isaac Rochell (96)
The edge most certainly makes up for what Las Vegas’ interior lacks in pass rush prowess. First-round rookie Tyree Wilson, Malcolm Koonce and Isaac Rochell are solid players, but the star of the group is without a question Maxx Crosby: the Pro Bowler has registered five sacks so far this year, while his 34 total quarterback pressures are the second-most in the NFL.
While the Raiders do move Crosby around, most of his snaps are coming from the defensive left — i.e. over the Patriots’ right tackle. Considering the issues the team has had at this position, this appears to be a major mismatch on paper. New England will need to figure something out, either by inserting veteran Riley Reiff over Vederian Lowe, or by using tight ends to stay in to help. Probably, both.
Robert Spillane* (41), Divine Deablo* (5), Luke Masterson (59), Kana’i Mauga (43), Amari Burney (56)
The Raiders’ off-ball personnel lacks star power, but starters Robert Spillane and Divine Deablo are solid players. They are not the most vicious second-level players as far as pass rush prowess is concerned, but they are well-suited to play in the modern NFL: they can drop back into coverage — Spillane leads the team with two interceptions — and also hold their own against the run.
Marcus Peters* (24), Jakorian Bennett* (0), Nate Hobbs* (39), Amik Robertson (21), David Long (23)
The Raiders are facing some injury questions at their cornerback position. Starters Jakorian Bennett and Nate Hobbs were both out last week due to hamstring and ankle issues, respectively, and their status for Sunday remains up in the air. The starting spots next to veteran Marcus Peters went to Amik Robertson and practice squad call-up Tyler Hall on Monday night against the Packers.
Tre’von Moehrig* (25), Marcus Epps* (1), Roderic Teamer (33), Isaiah Pola-Mao (20), Chris Smith II (29)
Much like the Patriots, the Raiders also are better at safety than cornerback. While not as versatile or deep, Tre’von Moehig and Marcus Epps are a solid one-two at the position. Roderic Teamer is the third option, but he has seen limited action in coordinator Patrick Graham’s defense.
Like the secondary as a whole, however, the group has also had some ups and downs all year. Teams have had success moving the ball against the Raiders through the air.
Daniel Carson (2 | K), A.J. Cole III (6 | P | H), Jacob Bobenmoyer (50 | LS)
Bill Belichick sang Daniel Carson’s and A.J. Cole’s praises this week, and for good reason: they are quality players at their respective spots. Carson has gone 5-of-7 on field goals and 8-of-8 on extra points, with both his misses from beyond 50 yards. Cole, meanwhile, is among the league leaders in gross (51.0) and net (48.5) punting average.
As noted above, DeAndre Carter is serving as the team’s return man. He is averaging a solid 7.3 yards on punts and 30.7 yards on kickoff runbacks.