New England Patriots (2-1) at Oakland Raiders (2-1)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET
VENUE: O.co Coliseum
SURFACE: Natural grass
WEATHER: Oakland, CA
TV: CBS, Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots
PREDICTION: Patriots 34-21
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Raiders have one of the
league's most physical interior defensive lines led by Richard Seymour
and Tommie Kelly, and they'll rotate the group to continue attacking
backup center Dan Connolly in an effort to get in QB Tom Brady's face.
Oakland is allowing 289.7 passing yards per game with a banged-up
secondary, so allowing Brady time to survey his options would be a
fatal approach. The Raiders will attempt to protect that defense by
establishing their physical running game out of the chute. If RB Darren McFadden can dictate the tempo early on, it will set the table for QB
Jason Campbell to attack New England's equally-shaky pass defense.
FAST FACTS: The only loss for each team has been to
Buffalo. ... The Patriots have scored 30-plus points in 11 straight
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
For once, all the attention isn't going toward
quarterback Tom Brady -- even with his new haircut. This week, the
focus is on defense, or, in the New England Patriots' case, lack
Through three games, the Patriots are one of the
NFL's worst defensive teams, and on Sunday they'll face another
challenge against the Oakland Raiders, who lead the league in rushing.
While it's impossible to pinpoint the exact
problem, linebacker Jerod Mayo pointed to the team's inability to make
stops on third down as a reason why opponents sustain so many long
"We have a lot of work to do," Mayo said, "and
hopefully it happens this week."
What's even more alarming is the number of big
plays the Patriots have allowed, with a play longer than 20 yards
falling under this category. The Bills torched them several times last
weekend in an eventual 34-31 win for Buffalo, including Fred Jackson's
long carry to the 1-yard line in the closing seconds that set up the
winning field goal.
"You just have to make plays on the ball," Mayo
said. "Big plays have been killing us. That's one of the main
priorities in practice this week -- stopping the big play and getting
off the field."
Things won't get any easier this week as the
Patriots prepare to face star running back Darren McFadden, who is
enjoying a breakout season through the Raiders' first three games.
"McFadden's a great guy with the ball in his
hands," Mayo said. "Tackling will be an issue and we'll be practicing
that as well. Hopefully we can do good this week.
"Sometimes, you can be disappointed in the things
that we do, but at the same time you have to go back and watch the film
and make corrections. It's a unit. We're a family on the defensive side
of the ball. We know that and we're practicing hard."
Richard Seymour is doing his best to not make
things personal between himself and the New England Patriots in the
"It isn't me against New England, it's the Raiders
against New England," Seymour said.
In his third year with the Raiders after spending
2000 through 2008 and earning three Super Bowl rings with the Patriots,
Seymour insists he has settled in to life in Oakland and couldn't be
But surely, Seymour must have circled the Patriots
game on his calendar when the schedule came out.
"I circle all of them. I look at all of them, you
always try to go out and get a win," Seymour said. "We're just trying
to string some wins together. We won our opener, lost the second game,
won the third game, we want to develop some consistency."
Raiders coach Hue Jackson is counting on a little
extra something from Seymour, regardless of what the defensive tackle
is telling the media.
"I hope so," Jackson said. "I don't think he is
going to approach this one any different physically, but emotionally to
say he wouldn't I would be kidding myself.
"That's where he played and had a lot of success,
and he's going to be playing against some guys that he knows."
It's worth noting that Seymour, while mentioning
former teammates and friends, avoids talking about former coach Bill
Belichick has been fielding questions this week
from media members wondering if perhaps trading Seymour for a
first-round draft pick in 2011 -- the Patriots selected current right
take Nate Solder at No. 17 -was such a good idea.
The Patriots haven't had a championship level
defense since he left.
"They made a business decision," Seymour said. "I
can't control what happens for them but it's worked well for me. I've
enjoyed my teammates, my coach, playing in Oakland."
Belichick conceded the Patriots were different
"I think with top level-players, you never get the
same guy," Belichick said. "You construct other parts of your team.
Even if you find a guy to play that position, they play it a little bit
differently ... you don't replace those kind of players. You add
players in other areas, or players with different skills."
--OL Logan Mankins returned to practice Thursday
after missing Wednesday's session due to illness, indicating he'll be
ready to play Sunday in Oakland.
--S Patrick Chung was also back at practice and is
preparing to play Sunday in Oakland despite a thumb injury that
ultimately required surgery.
--DL Mike Wright missed practice again Thursday
and will likely be inactive in Sunday's game. There's no timetable on
--DT Albert Haynesworth was not at practice
Thursday, raising doubts about his availability this weekend.
--OL Sebastian Vollmer also missed practice,
though he is expected to play against the Raiders on Sunday.
--FS Michael Huff, recovering from a concussion,
did not participate in practice after practicing Wednesday.
--CB Chris Johnson missed practice for the second
straight day with a hamstring pull and is unlikely to play against New
--DE Matt Shaughnessy missed practice for the
second straight day with a shoulder injury. His absence would mean
increased snaps for Jarvis Moss.
--SS Mike Mitchell practiced for the second
straight day and could see time against New England after being out
--WR Jacoby Ford practiced for the second straight
day and could return to his role as a wide receiver and kickoff return
Game Thread Pats - Raiders
Light, Mayo, and Rookies
Drawing Respect From Opponents
Not Among The Sad Sack Cast
Blood Not Much Help For Patriots
Gridiron Report Week 4: Raiders
Gridiron Report Week 4: Raiders
Gridiron Report Week 4: Raiders
Ready For Seymour
Game Preview: Patriots @ Raiders
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