Oakland Raiders v. New England Patriots Preview: Keys to the NFL Matchup Week 4
By: Cian Fahey | Published Tuesday, November 1, 2011, 7:15 PM | Updated Tuesday, November 1, 2011, 7:15 PM
Coming into the season, nobody saw the New England Patriots losing to the Buffalo Bills. While many will say that that was a once off blip on the team's route to the Super Bowl; the truth is the Oakland Raiders could pile on the misery this week.
The Patriots were missing a lot of players last week through injury and very little has changed this week. Pat Chung is likely to return, but Leigh Bodden and Ras-I Dowling miss out in the secondary. In front of them Albert Haynesworth and Mike Wright will also be on the sidelines.
Wright and Haynesworth would have been crucial to stopping Darren McFadden.
McFadden is playing like the best back in the league right now after dismantling the New York Jets last week. Last season was a breakout year for the former top 10 pick which led to him being nominated as a captain this year.
He has taken to that role well, leading from the front by carrying the Raiders' offense to a 2-1 start, with their sole loss coming late on against the Bills. Shutting down McFadden will be vital for the Patriots defense, however they cannot focus completely on him.
Jason Campbell has made a good start to the season with a 93.8 rating so far. He does not have the biggest arm nor has he put up huge statistics to this point, but going against the Patriots' defense, he should be able to make an impact.
That impact may be limited by the receivers that are available to him. Louis Murphy has already been ruled out. Murphy is a big loss in this matchup because he has the size and speed to get the better of Devin McCourty who has struggled with players of his build this year.
Campbell will be hoping that Jacoby Ford can overcome his questionable status and be the big play receiver on the outside across from Denarius Moore. Moore had a breakout game in Buffalo but had to go against the Jets' cornerbacks last week.
Whether he is a one hit wonder or not will be found out today as he should have every chance to put up big numbers against the Patriots' depleted secondary.
The Raiders have a somewhat depleted secondary coming into the game also as Chris Johnson has already been ruled out. Johnson is the cornerback who had taken the place of the departed Nnamdi Asomugha across from Stanford Routt.
Obviously cornerback depth will be crucial for the Patriots, however they can at least take some relief from the fact that Aaron Hernandez will miss out once again. Hernandez' loss could be worsened if Michael Huff can overcome his questionable status for the game also.
Huff and Tyvon Branch are a solid, but inconsistent, pair of safeties who will give up plays to the Patriots. However the Raiders won't be looking to their secondary to stop the Patriots. The Raiders will be looking to replicate what the Bills did and force Tom Brady to commit turnovers.
Much like Kyle Williams last week, the Raiders have an inside presence that can disrupt Tom Brady's pocket. The former Patriots defensive lineman, Richard Seymour, is still playing at a dominant level. Seymour will look to take advantage of Logan Mankins, who was ill during the week which caused him to miss his first ever practice, and center Dan Connolly.
The man who the Patriots got in exchange for Seymour, first round pick Nate Solder, will once again start as Sebastien Vollmer has already been ruled out. Solder will be hoping to contain LaMarr Houston who is part of a very strong Raiders' front seven.
Seymour's 2.5 sacks is added to by his defensive tackle partner Tommie Kelly's 1.5. However the pressure doesn't just come through the middle as Jarvis Moss has 2 sacks of his own and Matt Shaughnessy also has 1. Kameron Wimbley and Rolando McClain have also added one each from the linebacking corp.
Getting pressure on Brady is going to be vital once again for the Oakland Raiders to upset the odds and come away with a victory. However with Darren McFadden allowing the Raiders to dominate the clock, the Raiders defense could see a lot of time on the sidelines.
In Oakland, the Raiders definitely have a chance to win this game. As unsurprised as you should have been that the Bills won last week after reading that preview, this preview shouldn't fill you with a huge amount of confidence as a Patriots' fan.