Well we all knew the Patriots wouldn’t go undefeated. And really for the first time in years, it’s hard to be disappointed with the loss. After all, Cam Newton really delivered. On top of that too, the offense really looks like it could deliver something special this year.
On the negative side, the Patriots defense was destroyed. But a lot of that has more to do with Seattle possessing one of the top signal callers in the game. Russell Wilson is as good as they come. Sometimes you have to tip your cap on some of those throws.
More importantly, N’Keal Harry really showed up and Julian Edelman delivered as usual. Those two connections with Newton should have every fan really excited about the possibilities of this team. After all, they will only get better from here. Every Bill Belichick coached team will morph into whatever identity gives them the best chance to win. Once the end of October hits, we will find out who these guys really are.
Here’s what’s happening in week three:
First Down: Similar to the Seahawks, the Raiders possess one of the league’s best offenses thus far. Through two weeks they have put up 34 points in both games.
Looking at them from a glance, Las Vegas has a power run game that, although they are middle of the road, can get the tough yardage to set up play action. Having a power back like Josh Jacobs doesn’t hurt either though.
The real strength of the Raider offense though is the passing attack. Although Derek Carr is underwhelming at times, he has some explosive weapons. Tight end Darren Waller is one of the best in the league. They also have rookie speedster Henry Ruggs and Carr’s safety valve, Hunter Renfrow. Moreover, there is Jalen Richard as a pass catcher out of the backfield when needed.
That group of weapons has Vegas set up well to make some noise for a playoff spot if Carr can continue to make some throws.
Second Down: Similar to Seattle, Las Vegas does have a major weakness the Patriots can exploit. The Raiders have the sixth worst defense in yards allowed through the first two weeks. However, taking a closer look the blame should be placed on the pass defense, which ranks 30th in the NFL.
That should give Josh McDaniels and Newton plenty of opportunities to build off last week’s 397 passing yard performance. More importantly the rapport between Cam and Damiere Byrd, N’Keal Harry, and Julian Edelman all seems extremely strong. Look for this to be a big game for Damiere Byrd and Julian Edelman as they can abuse the bigger cornerbacks for the Raiders.
Third Down: There has been a lot of slander about the performance of the Pats’ secondary last week. Personally, I think that is a little much. A lot of the passes were perfectly placed and Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty were still positioned to make a play. Sometimes you have tip your hat to the other team. They have professionals too.
One area the Patriots need to be better is their run defense. As tough as it was for the secondary, the rush defense surrendered over five yards per carry to Chris Carson and the Seattle attack. Hard to win games when you can’t stop the run and the other team has an elite quarterback.
Fourth Down: One aspect that won’t happen this week, but could in the coming weeks is the introduction of Damien Harris to the Pats’ backfield. Sony Michel is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry and struggling to break tackles, leaving uninspired results. Also don’t forget that Harris looked strong in camp, leaving some to wonder if he earned a good chunk of carries. Again, Harris is out this week as he is on injured reserve, but that is something to monitor in the coming weeks.
Prediction: Patriots 27 – Raiders 24
Coming after a loss the Patriots usually bring it the next game, but this is uncharted waters. There is no Tom Brady to stabilize things. However, Newton seems poised to have a big year if the first two weeks are any indication. This seems like a prime game to have Edelman build off last week’s huge performance. Look for the New England defense to bounce back as well. The Patriots defense on Darren Waller will be the difference, holding him under 50 yards.
–David Albiani is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @david_albiani.