If you look at the Raiders and their quest for their fourth championship, one team stands in the way, above all others. In all honesty, the New England Patriots stand in everyone’s path. For the Raiders and their fanbase, the New England Patriots remain the proverbial thorn in the side. Yet, the Raiders, in order to achieve their ultimate goal must defeat New England. Below, thoughts about this AFC tilt.

Forget the Tuck Rule

If you ask most fans, that snowy Saturday night remains a blight and pained memory. Granted, the officials managed to miss a pivotal call. However, the Raiders did manage play in a Super Bowl after. Holding on to that brutal memory serves little purpose. The only player still active from the entire game is Tom Brady. Moreover, if Zack Crockett converts the fourth-and-one, that game changes course.

Possible Opening

When Rob Gronkowski retired, the opening for opponents retired. Losing one of the two best tight ends in the history of the league will hurt. Not to mention, Gronkowski provided Brady a security blanket. Remember the deep pass in the Super Bowl. Gronkowski abused teams down the middle of the field. Despite catching just 521 passes, he turned 79 of those into scores. In addition, Gronkowski blocked with strength and purpose. Losing him to retirement weakens the Patriots. The Raiders and their newly constructed secondary catches a break that they need to capitalize, should they meet.

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Long Game

In the next nine years, Jon Gruden and the Raiders need to win multiple Super Bowls. To justify his exorbitant contract, there must be multiple titles. Anything less will feel like an abject failure. However, to get to that point, Gruden and Mike Mayock must figure out a way to beat the Patriots now. With New England surrounding Tom Brady with younger, more explosive skill position talent, he could play for a couple more seasons. As a result, the Raiders need to combat this with similarly explosive defensive talent. From remaking the line to infusing speed and depth into the secondary, the Raiders look to build the squad to finally silence the Patriots.

Respect and Ego

Make no mistake; I detest the Patriots for all of their winning. While the Raiders languished and suffered through losing seasons, they prospered. However, as a football fan and reasonable human, I respect their unparalleled record of accomplishment of success. The pettiness wants to mock Tom Brady for the Uggs, the lip-syncing Instagram videos, but on the field, he is the best quarterback in league history. That doesn’t deter me from hoping the Raiders end his decades of dominance.  Jon Gruden does possesses equal respect for Brady.

“I think you can. The guy up in New England can still throw it too,” Gruden said. “You have to be able to run the ball in key situations, run out the clock at the end of the game, you have to be able to convert some third-and-ones, some goal line situations and set up some play action passes. Brady proved that. They had the best play action in all of football.”

In reality, to reach the Patriots, the Oakland Raiders need to take care of their division first. When they finally accomplish that, the Patriots are the obstacle in their path. If the team can lay the Patriots legacy to rest on the way to a championship, Jon Gruden cements his legacy. More importantly, RaiderNation reclaims their throne, atop of NFL fandom.

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