¡Una victoria fácil!: The Patriots rout the Raiders in Mexico City

For the second straight week, the Patriots outclassed and outperformed their AFC West opponent. The Patriots routed the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City, winning the game 33-8. New England showed the 100,000-plus fans at Estadio Azteca what the golden standard of the NFL looks like.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s game

1. Have yourself a day Brandin Cooks!

The Patriots traded for Brandin Cooks earlier this year, forfeiting a first round pick in exchange for the talented but disgruntled playmaker. Cooks has had flashes of brilliance earlier this year (for example, Week 3’s win against the Houston Texans), but at the same time he has been wildly inconsistent. It was clear at the beginning of the season that his chemistry with Tom Brady was a work in progress, as the two often weren’t on the same page. Cooks had a monstrous day against the hapless Oakland secondary, wracking up 6 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown. An interesting fact to note is that Cooks continued his dominance over Oakland from last season, when he was a member of the New Orleans Saints. If Cooks can continue to be a reliable down-field threat for the Pats, it will make it very hard for opposing defenses.

(Photo by Matt Stone/Boston Herald)

2. Stephen Gostowski was brilliant

Gostowski has been one of the most dependable kickers in the NFL for almost 10 years. However, this narrative changed in 2016, when Gostowski notably struggled kicking the football in several games (including Super Bowl LI). Gostowski has mostly rebounded so far this season, and was remarkable against Oakland. Gostowski went 4/4 yesterday, and his main highlight was a 62-yard field goal, which was the longest in franchise history.

(Photo from USA Today Sports)

3. The Patriots’ defense continues to dominate

For the 6th straight week, the Patriots’ defense held their opponent under 17 points. The Pats’ secondary continues to play impassioned football, making it hard for the opposing quarterback to be successful. Oakland’s best pass catcher on the day was Michael Crabtree who corralled 5 catches for 51 yards. New England also forced 2 turnovers in the first half, which derailed successful drives for the Raiders. A key play for the Patriots was late in the second quarter, when Oakland was driving to cut their 14 point deficit. The Patriots forced a fumble inside the 5 yard line, giving TB12 and the offense possession with less than a minute left in the first half. The next Patriots drive resulted in Gostowski’s long field goal, giving the Patriots a 17-0 halftime lead. Although the Patriots defense performed remarkably (they didn’t give up any points until the fourth quarter), they need to work on stopping the run. Marshawn Lynch gashed them for 67 yards off 11 carries in the first half. Stopping the run needs to be a priority for the Pats, as they will face LeSean McCoy and Le’Veon Bell in the next few weeks.

New England Patriots v Oakland Raiders
 (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

¿Estás listo para algo de fútbol?: Previewing the Patriots’ Week 11 game against the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City

The Patriots head down south to Mexico City later today to face the Oakland Raiders at Estadio Azteca. In the preseason, this matchup was billed as a must-watch game between 2 of the AFC’s best teams, but now it pits the 7-2 Patriots against the underperforming 4-5 Raiders. 

Here are a few things to consider leading up to today’s game

1. Tom Brady and the New England offense against Oakland’s defense

TB12 and the Brady Bunch were hitting on all cylinders during last week’s blowout win at Denver, where all facets of the offense performed well. This week they face off against a porous Oakland defense, which has serious concerns in the secondary (they rank 22nd in passing yards and last in opposing QBR). Oakland is slightly better against the run, so it will be interesting to see what combination Josh McDaniels decides to use against them. The Patriots are missing 2 starters on their offensive line (Marcus Cannon and David Andrews), but may face a favorable matchup against Oakland’s anemic pass rush.

tb12 vs oakland
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

2. The Patriots’ defense against Oakland’s offense

The Patriots’s defense has performed well over the last five games, holding their opponents to under 17 points per game. They will be facing a heavily inconsistent Oakland offense that doesn’t resemble the dynamic lineup from last year. The Patriots cannot afford to let their guard down, as Oakland is loaded on offense with several talented players such as Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Jared Cook, and Marshawn Lynch. Two intriguing matchups to watch during the game will be the Patriots’ front seven against Oakland’s rushing attack, and the Patriots’ secondary against Oakland’s receivers.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at New England Patriots
(Photo from USA Today Sports)

3. Will Mexico City’s altitude affect the game?

Mexico City has an altitude of 7,382 feet, so it is fair to question if this will have any impact on today’s game. The Patriots fresh off a game in the Mile High city of Denver opted to practice this week at Colorado’s Air Force Academy, in order to become acclimated to playing at high altitudes. Oakland took a different route, and decided to practice at home, as they thought that it would help them prepare better. Will the decision to practice at high altitudes give the Patriots an advantage?

pats afa
(Photo from the Boston Globe)

Taking these factors into consideration, I still expect the Patriots to pull out a win in Mexico City. TB12 and the offense should make life miserable for Oakland’s secondary, and the Pats’ defense will likely continue to play efficiently. 

Prediction: Patriots 31, Raiders 17