The 2-1 Oakland Raiders will be at home on Sunday to take on the New England Patriots. If this were last year or the year before, this would have been the perfect game for the Patriots to get their frustrations out after losing a a heart breaker in Buffalo.
Even though the Raiders just beat the Jet's, it still feels like NFL blasphemy to predict the Raiders will upset the Patriots. But I will say that the Raider Nation has plenty of reasons to be confident they will pull off the upset.
I know I am!
Turn the page to see those reasons.
Did you hear the crowd at the O.co Coliseum last Sunday?
It was rockin' like it hasn't been in years! It will rock a whole lot more this Sunday vs. the Patriots than it did last Sunday vs. the Jets.
Raiders fans at the O.co Coliseum gave their support last Sunday, but weren't sure what they were getting into. I'm sure the home openers of the last few years had everything to do with why Raiders fans were a little unsure.
But Raiders fans know what this team is capable of now, so they won't hold back anything this Sunday. Patriots guard Brian Waters told WEEI.com Patriots blogger Mike Petraglia of an experience he had in the Black Hole as a Chief.
"It's the first time I ever saw an old lady in a wheelchair shooting you the bird with both fingers. It's about as crazy as you can get," he said.
Raider Nation has to love that!
The Raiders welcomed back Kevin Boss to the starting lineup last week for a good result. The tight end constistently hymed up the man in front of him to allow the Raiders to get outside in the running game.
He also made his presence felt down the seam of the Jets' secondary when it was needed. His presence in the secondary will be bigger than you think, as the Patriots have shown they could die as well as live by the tight end.
With his height and hands, Boss could kill!
The Raiders really need all the bodies they can get in the secondary with the Patriots coming in. They are even more known for dinking and dunking out of the four- and five-wide-receiver sets the Bills beat the Raiders with.
For that I have good news.
Demarcus Van Dyke, who was unavailable for the Jets game, fully practiced and looks like he'll go. Michael Huff practiced in a limited capacity Wednesday, but had to have passed his concussion test to practice at all.
Chimdi Checkwa looked like he was starting to get it last Sunday, so the wounded Chris Johnson can rest. With the cornerback position looking better, there's even more good news with Mike Mitchell coming back.
This is important because he does a good job of covering the tight end—a beloved weapon of Brady's. Hopefully for the Raiders, Mitchell isn't too rusty because Sunday will be his first action this year.
Even if he's real rusty, his body is needed out there at least on occasion.
Mark Sanchez's numbers didn't match it, but the Raiders seem to have strategically adjusted to the spread. If you take a closer look, the Bills killed the Raiders with their recievers running those short routes.
Of Ryan Fitzpatrick's 264 passing yards, 219 went to wide receivers on the short routes. The Raiders were ready for all of that when the Jets came to town, so it didn't work out too well for Jets receivers.
Elite receiver Santonio Holmes was held to one catch for 19 yards, but the Jets killed the Raiders with Raider killer LaDainian Tomlinson. Tomlinson had five catches for 116 yards including a 74- and 18-yard receptions.
Raider Nation is hopeful that getting Mitchell back will put an end to all the tight madness. The good news is the Patriots have running backs who can catch the ball, but they are nowhere near as explosive as Tomlison.
The Raiders actually adapted to the passes to tight ends and running backs in the second half—only allowing the Jets seven of their 24 points in that half.
When the Patriots have problems, it's usually with the more physical teams in the NFL. The Jets took two out of three—including the playoffs last year—from the Patriots by beating them up physically.
Those same Jets came to Raider Nation's O.co coliseum last Sunday and were manhandled by the Raiders. Looking at the Patriots vs. Bills, it looked like the Patriots weren't even as physical as the Bills.
The Pats will try to get around the bully like the Bills did.
The Patriots' pass defense is ranked dead last in the NFL after three games. The Raiders' pass offense isn't among the best statistically, but Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell gets it done when needed.
He did throw for over 300 yards against the Bills and what should have been the game-winning touchdown pass in the closing minutes. He did this against a pass defense that got four interceptions out of Brady.
Some icing on the cake here is that Campbell gets back a big weapon in receiver Jacoby Ford this week. Watching the Patriots play the Bills on tape, I saw that the Patriots' corners can get cooked deep.
With some better throws, those deep balls could have went for touchdowns—not just completions. With Lee Evans now in Baltimore, the speed difference between the Bills' and Raiders' receivers is even larger.
How about starting Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford on Sunday?
Look out Patriots!
Campbell will have some success in the passing game with the weapons he has, but he may not have to do too much. That's because Darren McFadden is the best running back in football and the Patriots can't stop him.
Albert Haynesworth was once a beast, but that is no longer.
It doesn't look like he's even going to play Sunday anyway.
Men like Teddy Bruschi and Willie McGinest won't be walking into the Patriots facility to prepare to play anymore. Plus, the real beast of their defense during their championship years now plays for the Raiders.
More on him next slide.
Former Patriot Richard Seymour is the most beloved man in Raider Nation right now. That's because he has taught this young team how to be winners and for that, they will run through a brick wall for him.
Seymour has downplayed the significance of this game, but his teammates know better. He was an important part of a dynasty and they treated him as if he could be easily replaced—trading him to the Raiders rather than paying him like an important player.
The Raiders would like nothing more than to help their man (Seymour) prove that the Patriots made a mistake. Even without the drama, having Seymour on the field in such a big game for this young Raiders team is big.
I especially look forward to Seymour reuniting with Brady in the Patriots backfield.
Where Seymour's impact will really be felt is he and the rest of the defensive line hitting Tom Brady.
He is a great quarterback, but he puts his pants on and fastens his chinstrap just like any other. Also like any other, Brady hates to be hit, sacked, pressured or even have a defensive lineman around when throwing.
Al Davis' old mantra is, "The quarterback must go down and he must go down hard!" To live by that mantra, he has assembled a defensive line coached by Mike Waufle that looks to put the same pressure on Brady that the then-Waufle-coached defensive line of the New York Giants used to beat the Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl.
I know Brady is a dink and dunk artist, but he also holds the ball longer than any quarterback in the NFL when throwing down the field. Particularly if the Raiders can get ahead, Brady is going to take a lot of punishment like he did in that Super Bowl.
I loved hearing Rex Ryan of all people cry on NFL Network about his quarterback having his little nose broken!
What will Patriots head coach Bill Belichick say when Brady takes his beating?
This is a new day!
The Patriots are not the same—for the worse!
The Raiders are not the same—for the better!
The O.co Coliseum will be packed and rockin'!
That's because Raider Nation has reason to believe the Raiders can pull off the upset on Sunday. The Raiders are getting healthier at corner to cover Wes Welker while the defensive line is still there to harrass Brady.
Rob Gronkowski is Brady's next option while Mitchell is coming back for him.
I think Keller is better anyway.
Chad Johnson—child, please!
Be confident Raider Nation—there are plenty of reasons to be!