The Las Vegas Raiders head into Gillette Stadium for a very different matchup compared to years past. Here's our opponent review of the new-look New England Patriots.
The Las Vegas Raiders and New England Patriots continue their unofficial rivalry in 2020 in what will be a new era for both franchises. With the Las Vegas moniker now attached, the Raiders will once again face Bill Belichick, albeit without his six-time championship-winning franchise quarterback.
A new-look Patriots team will be welcoming the Silver and Black into Foxborough in Week 3.
In what seemingly has become a yearly assurance, the New England Patriots once again won the AFC East last season, although the exception was that it didn't land them a first-round bye. Led largely off the strength of their top-ranked defense, allowing a league lowest 14.1 points per game in 2019, New England fell to the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Wild Card game, which would prove to be Tom Brady's final game as a Patriot.
Las Vegas is hoping Week 3 will be the antithesis of their last matchup with the Patriots, a 33-8 loss back in 2017 when Brady threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions. With Brady no longer under center, he leads the group of players no longer playing for New England in 2020.
Let's take a look at the new-look Patriots, and how the Raiders can come away with the victory in this one.
Additions and Subtractions
The marquee name that headlines the list of departures is number 12, as Tom Brady left New England to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady landing in Tampa Bay also brought Rob Gronkowski out of retirement, as the Bucs swung a trade with the Pats for his rights.
It is assumed that Jarrett Stidham will fill the void of starting quarterback, but for good measure, Brian Hoyer was signed as the backup, his third stint with Bill Belichick.
Tom Brady was not the solely established veteran leaving Foxborough, as Stephen Gostkowski was officially released by New England as well. Phillip Dorsett signed with the Seattle Seahawks in the offseason, and a few staples of last season's impressive defense also departed in Jamie Collins (to the Detroit Lions) and Kyle Van Noy (to the Miami Dolphins).
Defensive back Devin McCourty is returning to the Patriots in 2020, and through the draft, Bill Belichick opted against using one of his ten picks on a quarterback. Instead, he chose to add depth on defense, as well as on the offensive line via seven out of those ten picks. With Brady gone, many players will have to step up in 2020.
Why the Raiders Will Win
The Raiders haven't recorded a victory against the Patriots since November 17, 2002, a 27-20 victory. Five straight losses over eight years is a significant sample size, but it is noteworthy to acknowledge that it was during the Brady-Belichick era.
In Week 3, Tom Brady will no longer be under center, but anybody would be wise to not count out Belichick by any means.
Even without Brady, New England still has respectable threats in Julian Edelman and Sony Michel, as well as having the home-field advantage when they meet Las Vegas. Last season, the Raiders went 2-6 in games on the road (granted, their victory in London, in essence, should count as a road victory). Ultimately, Las Vegas has to be able to execute on the road to make a jump in 2020.
Derek Carr has a ton of weapons, this season, as as one of the few remaining from a stacked 2014 draft class, he is the leader of this team. Las Vegas brought back their entire offensive line in 2020, and brought in some dynamic playmakers, so the Raiders should be able to score against anybody.
With a more experienced quarterback under center, a plethora of new and returning weapons on offense, and a defense re-shaped through free agency, it's up to Jon Gruden to outmaneuver whatever gameplan Bill Belichick conjures up. Week 3 will be their second in a row against a Hall of Fame quarterback, as they take on Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in Week 2, and they come away with the victory on the road.