(New England): QB Tom Brady - He is the reigning MVP and is the early favorite to repeat. Brady is completing 69% of his passes has 11 td passes and 5 interceptions. He is in total command of the offense and when he plays well this offense is virtually unstoppable. The Raiders have some key injuries in their secondary with starting CB Chris Johnson out and Safety Michael Huff doubtful. That is a bad sign with the number one passing offense in the NFL coming to the Black Hole. Brady is great at finding your weaknesses and then attacking it. His last outing against the Buffalo Bills he threw 4 ints, he only had 4 ints total in 2010, and usually after a loss he is very focused. He should have an outstanding game.
(Oakland): QB Jason Campbell - Jason has manage games this season the way new head coach Hugh Jackson visioned. He has only attempted 82 passes but has completed 65% of them and only thrown 1 interception while being sacked only twice. Two factors could help him have a great game, first RB Darren McFadden and the offensive line needs to control the line of scrimmage and produce in the running game and second the Patriots secondary has not performed well at all this season ranking last against the pass. Campbell will have plenty of opportunities to complete some throws and must connect on 3rd down and long situations against a porous defensive secondary to keep drives alive and to keep New England's high powered offense on the sidelines. He must make sure his offense scores tds in the red zone and not settle for field goals.
Oakland Offense vs. New England Defense: Head coach Hugh Jackson who has a great offensive mind has the Raiders offense ranked number one in rushing at 185 yards per game. They have big and physical offensive lineman led by LT Jared Veldheer , rookie LG Stefan Wisniewski, and RT Khalif Barnes. RB Darren McFadden is the catalyst of the offense and everything flows through him. When he has a great game running with the ball it opens up everything else such as play action and deep throws. QB Jason Campbell has played well and hasn't been turnover prone. The receiving corps has been hampered by injuries to key starters and slowly returning back to health. Oakland will have to capitalize on mismatches against the Patriots secondary who is giving up 377 passing yards per game. New England can be stout against the run with NT Vince Wilfork closing down all running lanes inside and LB Jerod Mayo and LB Brandon Spikes cleaning up everything else. CB Devin McCourty is the only shining star for the Patriots secondary and probably want get tested much since his mates are the ones usually getting toasted. Oakland needs to convert 3rd downs and score tds instead of field goals. It is a win for the Patriots defense and offense when you only score 3 points. Then here comes Brady and crew again going for six.
Oakland Defense vs. New England Offense: Oakland's defensive front will need to put consistent pressure on QB Tom Brady to help a secondary that has been hit by injuries. The best way to slow Tom Brady down is to get a push up front right in his face. DT Richard Seymour and DT Tommy Kelly need to win against Guards Logan Mankins and Brian Waters early and often. I expect New England to use the no huddle offense to take advantage of the injuries in the secondary. QB Tom Brady is like a shark in waters looking for blood and when he finds it he attacks. New England started a new trend this year in using two tight ends in a no huddle offense but will be without one TE Aaron Hernandez for the second week in a row because of a knee injury. When healthy he and TE Rob Gronkowski are a nasty 1-2 punch and are very versatile. The Patriots out of the no huddle can run pro sets, 2 TE big sets, 4 WR look, and 3WR and a TE look all because of these two guys. They have a combined 7 tds already. Once you key in on them then WR Wes Welker, who is Brady's favorite target especially on 3rd downs, and WR Deion Branch will hurt you. Its pick your poison with this offense and Tom Brady is a master at reading defenses and finding the open man.
New England (NFL Rank & Yards) Oakland (NFL Rank & Yards)
Rush Off. 13th - 102.7ypg 1st - 185.0ypg
Rush Def. 10th - 91.7ypg 26th - 120.3ypg
Pass Off. 1st - 437.7ypg 24th - 190.3ypg
Pass Def. 32nd - 377.0ypg 28th - 289.7ypg
Total Offense: 1st 14th
Total Defense: 32nd 28th
Points Per Game: 34.7ppg (2nd) 30.7ppg (6th)
Raiders Defensive Line (versus) Patriots Offensive Line: The Raiders have big and physical defensive tackles that can put pressure on opposing QB's. Ex-Patriot DT Richard Seymour is the leader of the unit and would like nothing more than consistently putting QB Tom Brady on the ground. The Patriots offensive guards and center will have to keep DT Richard Seymour, DT Tommy Kelly, and DT John Henderson from collapsing the pocket and pressuring Tom Brady into hurried passes.
CB Stanford Routt (versus) WR Wes Welker: Last week against the Buffalo Bills WR Wes Welker had 16 catches for 217 yards and 2 tds. Welker is QB Tom Brady's favorite target and he definitely looks for him on key 3rd down situations. CB Stanford Routt is the Raiders best corner left standing after so many injuries in their secondary and the departure of CB Nmandi Asomugha via free agency. He will need to eliminate Welker from making big plays and to limit his 3rd down conversions that keeps drives alive for an explosive Patriots passing game.
Final Word: Defensively both teams are decent against the run but struggle against the pass. This game will show how the NFL has changed into a pass first league. The Patriots have the number one passing offense and represent the new era. The Raiders have the number one rushing offense and represent the old days of smash mouth football. The Raiders will need to make some plays in their passing game to keep up with the Patriots. New England's offense puts pressure not only on opposing defenses but on the opposing offense to score points. Their mentality is we are going to score a lot of points can you keep up and outscore us. The old formula use to be if you had a great running game and great run defense you had a great chance of being successful. Now a days if you have a good to elite QB, multiple receiving weapons, and a defense who can pressure the other teams QB your chances of success are very good. The Patriots have also started a new offensive trend of utilizing two tight ends in a no huddle offense to create mismatches. Oakland will need to convert 3rd downs and score tds not field goals when they reach the red zone. They can't afford to get behind by a lot since they are a running team first and only adequate in the passing game. This is why playing against the new era teams like the Patriots, Packers, Saints, Texans, and Colts if you are a running team and get behind early it is a struggle to keep up with the explosive offenses. This game will show exactly who is king, the new era of passing or the old era of power running.