The real tests begin to start for the Oakland Raiders by week three when they pay a visit to Foxborough to face the mighty New England Patriots.
Subplot: Passing the Bill Belichick test
To become a playoff team it’s not just about winning on the road and beating a team with good players. It’s also about beating good coaches and there are very few as good as Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots. He always seems to find a way to take away what a team does best. The key to beating him is being able to make adjustments, which means the spotlight will be on head coach Dennis Allen and his staff.
Get Khalil Mack and pass rush going after Tom Brady
Like it is when playing any great quarterback, the biggest key to victory is making life very uncomfortable for him. Tom Brady is and has been one of the best in the business for over a decade. He knows exactly how to attack a defense and make them pay for every mistake. To beat him is simple, but not easy. The Oakland Raiders will need a big game out of their pass rush, particularly their blitzers like Khalil Mack who can help confuse Brady and mix up the pressure packages.
Navigate past Vince Wilfork
Another way to help counter a great offense is by not letting them back on the field. That comes through controlling the clock, which comes by keeping the football as long as possible. That often means riding the ground game. The Oakland Raiders believe their offensive line and backs like Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew are enough to do that. However, against New England they will be facing a healthy Vince Wilfork, easily one of the best nose tackles in recent memory. Getting past him will be step one, and it’s a step many offenses can never make.
Prediction: Patriots win 31-20