Entering Week 6 off back-to-back blowout losses and with a 1-4 overall record, the stakes are high for the New England Patriots. In order to bounce back, they will need to find a way to beat their old pals in Las Vegas: Josh McDaniels, Jimmy Garoppolo and the 2-3 Raiders will host the Patriots at Allegiant Stadium for a 4:05 p.m. ET kickff on Sunday.
In order to get a better understanding of who the Patriots will be up against in Week 6, we exchanged questions with Matt Holder of Pats Pulpit’s sister site Silver And Black Pride — the SB Nation community for all things Raiders.
Here is what Matt told us about the upcoming game.
1. How do you see the Patriots attacking the Raiders’ defense? Could another 200-yard rushing performance be on the horizon?
The running game could be effective as the Raiders’ defensive tackles are inconsistent versus the run. They’ll have drives where they struggle to hold up against double teams and get the ball ran down their throat. Then, they’ll buckle down and get a stop on the very next drive.
Patrick Graham and Las Vegas’ secondary plays a lot of soft coverage and their defensive backs will miss tackles occasionally. So, I’d go with a mix of running the ball and the short passing game.
2. What’s going on with Josh Jacobs? Has the Raiders’ offensive line not been giving him any running lanes this season?
Jacobs was admittedly rusty during the team’s first two games, but the bigger issue has been the offensive line. The Raiders’ line is built more for pass protection, and they’re solid at staying in front of their defenders but don’t generate much push in the ground game. So, Jacobs has consistently had to find rushing lanes that aren’t quite there and/or make guys miss right after getting the ball.
3. What have you seen from our old friends Jakobi Meyers and Jimmy Garoppolo? Has the Raiders’ offense changed since last season with them on the team?
Despite not playing together in New England, those two have had a pretty good connection so far in Las Vegas.
As he was with the Patriots, Meyers has been really good on intermediate routes and has easily become the Raiders’ No. 2 receiver behind Davante Adams. He’s second on the team in receiving yards with 274 despite missing one game and is tied with Adams for the most receiving touchdowns with three each. Those two are also the only players on the team to catch a touchdown pass so far this season, too. Meyers also hasn’t tried to throw the ball 20 yards backward to a quarterback yet, too, so that’s another positive. Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.
I can’t say the same for Garoppolo, though. He’s honestly been bad this year, throwing more interceptions than touchdowns—seven to six—in just four games. I know he was never known for his pocket presence, but you can see him panic when his first read isn’t open and he often is quick to check the ball down.
I think the biggest difference in the Raiders offense from this year to last is the lack of deep shots. Derek Carr would often huck it up to Adams even if the wideout was covered, and defenses had to respect that because Adams is so good he’d come down with the ball for explosive plays. This year, defenses are stacking the box and daring Garoppolo to beat them, and he can’t/won’t. That’s another reason why the running game has struggled to get off the ground, no pun intended.
4. Maxx Crosby is the headliner for Las Vegas’ defense, but Malcolm Koonce has been very efficient as a pass rusher. Is he someone fans should be keeping an eye on in this matchup?
Yes, Koonce is typically my sleeper pick for these articles as not a lot of people have heard of him, so I’m excited you brought him up! Koonce is a really good pass-rusher who has grown a lot over the years. He can win with speed around the edge and is good at turning speed to power. There have been a handful of reps where he and Crosby have met at the quarterback, Crosby just won a half-second faster and ended up getting the sack.
Pats fans should definitely keep an eye on Koonce, but he does typically line up against the offense’s left tackle and he won’t be able to turn speed to power against the massive, 380-pound Trent Brown. So, Koonce will have to win with speed and that limits his pass-rush arsenal.
5. DraftKings Sportsbook has the Patriots as 3-point underdogs in this game. What needs to happen for them to pull off the upset?
I know I’m not breaking any news to you guys, but Mac Jones and New England’s offense has to get going first and foremost. I can’t say I’ve watched a ton of Patriots games this year, so I don’t know what’s going with their struggles over the last two weeks, but even just 20 points could do the trick as the Raiders haven’t even broken that mark this season. Defensively, I’d blitz Garoppolo or run a bunch of simulated pressures to get him uncomfortable in the pocket as he does have bad happy feet when the pressure starts coming. That will also help in the running game as Las Vegas’ offensive line isn’t very physical. From there, it’s all about containing Adams, which is easier said than done. If I had a good idea of how to do that, I’d probably have a seven-figure salary and would be standing on the sidelines instead of sitting on my couch this Sunday!
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