The New England Patriots (7-2), fresh off a dominating 41-16 Week 10 win over the Denver Broncos, traveled to Mexico City where they will take on the Oakland Raiders (4-5) at Azteca Stadium.
The Pats are looking to extend their win streak to six while Oakland is looking to win back-to-back games.
As for the Pats defense, which only allowed the Broncos to score 16 points in Denver, they will need to make sure Oakland tight end Jared Cook is covered. Quarterback Derek Carr has a lot of trust in Cook – the tight end leads the team with 39 catches good for 499 total yards – 18 of those catches and 290 of those yards coming in the previous three games.
The New England defense has only allowed 17 points or fewer over their past five games despite allowing a league-worst 6.45 yards-per-play.
However, the team will be without offensive lineman David Andrews, who will miss Sunday’s game with an illness. This is a major loss for New England given they don’t have a true backup for Andrews.
He has yet to miss a game in his career – and it comes at a time when his team plays a good Oakland Raiders pass rush.
Oakland’s defense will have an interesting matchup on tight end Rob Gronkowski with safety Obi Melifonwu likely to be relied upon to stop the 6-foot-7 Gronk. Despite missing the first eight games with a leg injury, the second-round draft pick from earlier this year will rely on his athleticism and size to stop Gronkowski – who is second in the league among tight ends with 583 receiving yards this season.
Quarterback Tom Brady will be relying on running back Rex Burkhead with wide receiver Chris Hogan out with a shoulder injury. Between blocking punts and scoring touchdowns, Burkhead has emerged as one of the top running backs for the team – and it’s clear Brady has a lot of trust in him.
Tight end Martellus Bennett will look to contribute more this week in his second week back with his former team. In his return to New England last week against the Broncos, the tight end had three catches for 38 total yards. Brady knows and trusts Bennett and will look to target him more than last week – especially if Melifonwu is going to be covering Gronkowski.
The defense will have to continue clicking and stop the solid Oakland pass rush. They’ll need to pressure Carr and the running backs early and often and keep them out of the red zone.
Brady will have to rely on Burkhead, Gronkowski and Bennett heavily and they will need to find ways to get open and beat the Raiders defense.
Final score prediction: New England, 24, Oakland, 21