If the 2018 season progresses like Oakland hopes, the Raiders will cross paths with the Patriots. In our ongoing series, FPC Raiders delves into the world of the New England Patriots. Without a doubt, the Patriots will remain a roadblock for the Raiders. Today, we get up close and personal with the intangibles. The Raiders cannot defeat New England on talent alone. Here is why breaking the cycle of mental domination stays important.
For the better part of two decades, the Patriots carved out an era of unquestioned brilliance. When they take the field, New England legitimately expects to win. Granted, every team will claim that thought. Yet, New England plays with that sense of inevitable victory. While some call it an aura, others will call it confidence. Whatever you choose to name it, know that it exists.
Regardless of the situation, the Patriots appear in control. Between the regular season and playoff, under Brady, the Patriots amassed 42 fourth quarter comebacks. If you let them hang around, New England will probably find a way. Through sound coaching and execution, the Patriots seem to put themselves in the best possible spot.
Raiders Solution: In all honesty, the Raiders need to jump out to an early lead and keep piling the points on. While some will see this as running up the score, remember the Atlanta Falcons. They chose to go into brainfreeze mode and did not use common sense. As a result, the 28-3 league vanished and the largest collapse in the Super Bowl was born. Meanwhile, the Raiders, through aggressive playcalling early and a thunderous running game need to keep New England on the mat.
If you look at the smaller, more hysterical parts of rival hatred of New England, you can see how they operate. For lack of a phrase, the Patriots live in opponents’ heads. Mike Tomlin still believes someone tampered with his headset or Jesse James caught that pass. Perhaps the great move to mess with an opponent could be signing James Harrison. While declining, Harrison became a topic of discussion. What 40 year old, situational pass rushers get that much ink?
Raiders Solution: Block out the gamesmanship. Eliminate the distraction. Jon Gruden appears adept at drawing the focus upon himself and letting his team play. Mind games work only on those who let it happen. The Raiders, by nature of the new coaching staff will play much smarter and disciplined. The Falcons, Steelers, and Jaguars allowed the Patriots to straight up dictate the game. The Raiders employ a coach that will not stand for that. In this case, Gruden’s notorious ego and temper actually works well for Oakland.
In reality, the New England is mortal. The Raiders will treat them like any other team, attaching no special distraction to the game. Under those circumstances, Oakland can break the aura and end the dynasty. In order to claim AFC supremacy, the Raiders need to drive the proverbial stake through the Patriots’ heart.