4 Reasons Why the Oakland Raiders Will Beat the New England Patriots
The Oakland Raiders want to be bullies.
Well, a bunch of preppy kids from New England just transferred to Black Hole High for the weekend.
If the Raiders want to be feared when they roam the AFC hallways, then it is time to take Tom Brady's lunch money, and stuff his pasty, dimpled face in a locker.
Speaking of violence, nowhere is there more excitement in the NFL this week than Raider Nation, as Oakland prepares to square off with New England in what should be a shootout at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
This match may be a tipping point for both teams, as Oakland looks to build on its current momentum, while New England hopes to turn things around after its narrow defeat.
Here are four reasons why Oakland will beat the New England Patriots this Sunday, improve to 3-1 on the season, and why it won't seem like much of an upset.
Up in the Air
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New England features the best passing offense in the league, averaging 437.7 passing yards and 34.7 points per game this season.
Oakland has the fifth worst passing defense.
Odds are the Raiders banged up secondary will not be able to contain both WR Wes Welker and TE Rob Gronkowski for four quarters. Throwing the ball often, and hoping for just the slightest breakdown in coverage, will be New England's first, second, and third options as it looks to score points early and often.
This is where Jason Campbell steps in.
New England ranks dead last in the league in pass defense, allowing opponents—including the abysmal Miami Dolphins—an average of 377 yards through the air.
Sunday afternoon may be a golden (silver?) opportunity for Campbell to spread his wings, and take advantage of an underwhelming Pats defense that has been helpless in slowing down confident passing schemes this season.
Campbell's longest pass last week against the New York Jets went for 28 yards.
It's an indication that Oakland's renewed and improved quarterback is okay with a little less glitter if it means a lot more gold. Efficient, consistent drives that move the chains and set up the ground game for touchdowns will not send a quarterback to the Pro Bowl, but it will lead to a lot of wins for the Raiders, and most likely a spot in the playoffs.
With help from an offensive line that has only given up two sacks, Campbell has kept Oakland in every game, completing 65.9 percent of his passes and only throwing one interception for a 93.8 QB rating.
Combine these statistics with the return of wide receivers Jacoby Ford and Darrius Heyward-Bey and New England's soft-serve pass rush, and Jason Campbell just may surprise a few more naysayers with his ability to be a winning quarterback.
Ideally: Campbell drops bombs all afternoon on Chung, Dowling, McCourty, everybody on that paper-mache defense, racking up over 250 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns. He even punches in a goal-line run late in the fourth to seal the deal.
Realistically: Campbell plays it safe, to continued positive effect. He throws for around 185 yards with a solid completion percentage. He takes a sack, but does not throw an interception. His lone touchdown pass goes to a streaking Denarius Moore.
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Urban Dictionary defines a boss as someone who is "incredibly awesome, miraculous."
The NFL's definition of boss: Darren McFadden.
The superstar out of Arkansas leads the league in rushing with 393 yards, and has scored four touchdowns this season.
More importantly, McFadden is the heart and soul—and legs—of this rejuvenated Silver and Black Attack, and its biggest X-Factor against the Patriots.
New England presents a deceptive rush defense to analyze. Opposing offenses have been forced to throw the ball to match New England's absurd point production, so it's hard to gauge if the team's 91.7 yards allowed on the ground is a legitimate statistic to worry about.
Either way, Oakland knows what it needs to do: feed the McFadden Machine, and feed it often. Feed it on the ground. Feed it in the air. It does not matter if New England sends double, triple, quadruple coverage. Let them send the whole team.
Feed the beast.
The Jets were ran over by Oakland's ground game. McFadden finished with 171 yards on 19 attempts and two touchdowns.
Message to the Patriots: you cannot stop what's coming.
Ideally: McFadden eats New England for dinner, scaring grown men as he smashes his way for over 200 yards on the ground, capped by two touchdowns—one rushing, one receiving—in a convincing win. Chants of MVP overwhelm the Coliseum, and everybody's a believer.
Realistically: McFadden scares several children on his way to 100+ yards and a rushing touchdown. MVP talk still builds, as he once again shoulders the offensive load for the Raiders.
Left Is Right
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This brings us to Oakland's other Boss—TE Kevin Boss.
After missing the first two games of season with a knee injury, Boss suited up for his Raiders debut against the New York Jets, and finished with two receptions for 36 yards, including a catch that almost went for a touchdown.
If the Raiders plan to continue being successful on the ground and through the air, then Kevin Boss will need to show up against New England ready for a long day. His 6'6" frame and sticky hands make Boss a great target for Jason Campbell down field, but catching passes is not all the man can do.
Boss recorded a key block on McFadden's 70-yard touchdown run in the second quarter against New York.
Seeing as McFadden gets about 20 touches a game, a number that may increase if the Raiders can grab an early lead, or New England's rush defense turns out to be flatter than old soda, then it will be crucial for Boss to continue laying tracks for Oakland's runaway rushing train.
Same goes for LT Jared Veldheer.
Besides protecting Campbell's blindside, the second year tackle will need to help Boss rip open the left side of the field so that McFadden or Bush or another reverse to stampede through for big yards.
Ideally: Boss scores on his first catch of the game, does an awesome end zone celebration, then spends the rest of the afternoon pancake blocking New England's defense mercilessly.
Realistically: Boss has some big catches, some good blocks, and does a lot of the dirty work for an offense that is stockpiled with fast, athletic weapons. He emerges as one of Campbell's most reliable targets.
Crossing the Line
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The Raiders should really thank the Patriots for handing them Richard Seymour a few years back.
The 11 year veteran has redefined Raiders culture, bringing a whole lot of attitude and a whole lot of weight to Oakland's defensive line. He's recorded 2.5 sacks this season, on pace for the best numbers of his storied career.
He is also leading the way for younger talent, like back up DE Jarvis Moss, who sacked Mark Sanchez twice last week.
Emotion is a polarizing concept in the NFL. Show too much of it, and you may be seen as losing your cool or unraveling, but to pretend that a sellout crowd at the Coliseum and the chance to tackle Tom Brady will not draw out the animal instincts is nonsense.
These Raiders feed on frenzy. Look for them to stuff their faces with Patriots this Sunday.
And whatever you do, don't call it an upset.
Ideally: The defensive line overwhelms Brady, forcing a handful of sacks and pressuring him into four more interceptions. Bill Belichek's head explodes as the Raiders win big, 31-17.
Realistically: Seymour grabs a sack or two, leading the way as he has all season. Bill Belichek's head does not explode, but the Patriots still lose, 24-21.