While the Las Vegas Raiders struggle to stay in the AFC Playoff hunt, the New England Patriots look like a team to beat once more.
The New England Patriots have been the team to beat in the AFC for so long, and after one bad year, are back in the mix for a playoff berth. Unlike the Las Vegas Raiders, they are a franchise that is trending in the right direction, and one who could come out of nowhere to catch the Buffalo Bills and win the AFC East.
The direction of these two franchises changed during the “Tuck Rule” game, a game that will forever be one of the immortals in NFL history. That game saw the emergence of Tom Brady as the face of the NFL, and 20 years later, he is still the signal-caller for a playoff team and is fresh off his latest Super Bowl win.
For the Raiders, they would go to the playoffs the following season but would be back only once since then, and in the process, looked like a franchise that could not get out of their own way. Sure, there have been high moments, like the 2016 season, but even that season came crashing down with Derek Carr breaking his leg on Christmas Eve.
Raiders in danger of another lost season
So here we are, in the middle of what could be another collapse by the Raiders franchise after a strong start to the 2021 NFL season. Yes, there have been issues off the field that could derail any franchise, but in the end, they are just not playing good enough football between the white lines on Sundays.
Carr has looked average after an MVP start to the season, the defense was just shredded by the Kansas City Chiefs, an offense that looked lost coming in, and their top picks over the last few seasons, have offered very little, or are not even on the team anymore.
Meanwhile, New England has shaken off one bad season in 2020, made the right choice with Mac Jones as a first-round pick at quarterback, and is getting production up and down their roster.
The Raiders face off against the Bengals in Week 11 this Sunday. These X-Factors on each side of the ball are going to be key for a Las Vegas victory.
Who knows how the season will end for the Patriots, but one thing is for sure, they have found their quarterback, and their defense is playing at an elite level. If these two teams played right now, the Patriots would likely win, and after so many first-round draft pick failures, and money spent in free agency, that is a real indictment of how the Raiders franchise has been run over the last 20 years.