This Sunday, the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders will battle it out in an AFC clash south of the border. This game will have a direct impact on the AFC Playoff Race as the winner will solidify better positioning for a playoff spot. Currently, the Patriots are the best team in the AFC and look to stay ahead of the Steelers and Chiefs, while trying to win the AFC Division. The Raiders are behind the Bills and Jaguars for the Wild Card spots and need a big win this weekend to close the gap. Kickoff inside Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico is at 4:25 PM ET.
These two teams last played each other in 2014 and the Patriots won that game 16-9. Since 2002, the Patriots have a 5-1 record against the Raiders, including winning 4 straight games.
Oakland (4-5) is coming off a much needed bye week after defeating the Dolphins 2 weeks ago. The Raiders are trying to make a run at the last Wild Card spot and are currently 1 game back of the Bills. Oakland has won 2 out of their last 3 games and look to pull off an upset over the Patriots this weekend. The Raiders have not defeated the Patriots since November 2002.
New England (7-2) has turned around their early season woes and is humming along like a fine tuned machine. They have won 5 straight games and look like the team to beat in the AFC. With a 2 game advantage in the AFC East and a 1 game advantage over the Chiefs, New England can keep their position at the top of the AFC with the Steelers by defeating the Raiders this weekend.
The spread opened with the Patriots favored by 5 points, but it has currently gone up to 7 points. The Over/Under opened at 50 points and has gone up to 54 total points.
Both of these teams started off the season differently than where they are now. The Raiders started 2-0 and looked like a contender to the Chiefs in the AFC West. Unfortunately, they have gone on to post a 2-5 record and are currently on the outside looking in on the playoffs. The Patriots started 2-2, the sky was falling, and critics were proclaiming their demise, but they tinkered with a few things and now they’re sitting 7-2 after winning 5 straight games.
Their biggest issue was the defense that was giving up 30+ points per game. During the 5 game winning streak, the defense is only allowing 17ppg. So, even when the offense is struggling at times, the defense has been able to keep the Patriots in the game, which was not the case when they lost to the Chiefs and the Panthers.
Coming into this weekend’s matchup, the Patriots seemed poised to take command of the AFC and the Raiders seem destined to miss the playoffs. But, there is one factor that could significantly impact this weekend’s game and the outcome – the elevation.
Mexico City sits at 7,280 feet in elevation, which is about 2,000 feet higher than Denver where the Patriots played at last weekend. I think this gives New England an advantage because they have continued to practice in the high altitude and seem better prepared for this weekend’s elevation. Additionally, the Patriots have a more balanced attack in case one component of their offense is struggling due to the elevation. The Raiders lack a credible running game and their top receiver Amari Cooper has disappeared for long stretches during the season.
This will be an exciting duel between Brady and Carr, which I expect Brady to get the advantage on the scoreboard and the win column. He has more weapons around him than Carr does. Plus, their defense is better than the Raiders defense, despite what the numbers say.
New England is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games, 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games as a road favorite of 3.5 to 7 points, 18-7 ATS in their last 25 games coming off 2 consecutive wins, and 9-4 ATS in their last 13 games against a team with a losing record. Oakland is 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 games and 2-3-1 ATS in their last 6 games against the Patriots.
I expect Brady to use all of his weapons in this game to take advantage of Oakland’s sub-average pass defense. Additionally, look for the Patriots defense to play well against the Raiders dynamic duo at receivers. Without a credible run game, the Raiders will put themselves at a disadvantage and the Patriots will capitalize on it. I see the Patriots winning this game 30-20 in the high altitude.