A year ago, the Raiders traveled to Mexico City and came home with a nice souvenir in the form of a 27-20 victory over the Houston Texans.
Now the 4-5 Raiders are making a return journey to Estadio Azteca, but getting a win against the New England Patriots may be more difficult. The defending Super Bowl champions are 7-2 and NFL passing leader Tom Brady has a dangerous cast of receivers, including wideout Brandin Cooks – who already has 10 catches of more than 20 yards – and tight end Rob Gronkowski.
But as explosive as the Patriots are on offense, they’ve been equally vulnerable on defense. New England ranks last in the NFL, giving up 408.3 yards per game, and are worst in the league against the pass, surrendering an average of 287.2 yards.
With quarterback Derek Carr and the Raiders pass offense playing much better in recent weeks, it’s possible that Oakland can put up a lot of points against the Patriots. Certainly, New England coach Bill Belichick believes the Raiders are dangerous offensively.
“The Raiders have great skill players – running backs, tight ends, receivers – and a great offensive line,” Belichick said in a conference call this week. “There’s a lot of weapons on offense and Carr makes it all go. They’re really good on offense. Excellent talent and they can score in a hurry really from any place on the field, at any position, so they’re hard to defend.”
In two of their past three games, wins over the Dolphins and Chiefs, the Raiders have scored 27 and 31 points. Carr threw for 300 yards against Miami and 417 vs. the Chiefs. Yet Carr isn’t taking the Patriots lightly, no matter that the stats show they are vulnerable on defense.
“It’s not a scary thing to play them,” Carr told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. “They’re the next team on the schedule. Let’s not make it something it’s not, but let’s respect that they’re very smart. They’re very wise in how they game-plan things. Every team tries to take things away that you do good and you try to hit them with other things. It works both ways.”
Sunday’s game in Mexico City is set to kick off at 1:25 p.m.