The Patriots somehow came away with a win on Monday Night Football against the Arizona Cardinals, and now find themselves directly in the mix for an AFC Wild Card spot.
They’ll take on the Las Vegas Raiders this weekend in their second winnable game in a row. Flexed out of Sunday Night Football, the game will kick off at 4:05pm EST from Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium with Kenny Albert and Jonathan Vilma on the call for FOX.
Odds – Patriots (5-6) vs. Raiders (5-8)
Spread: Patriots -1
Moneyline: Patriots -115/Raiders -105
Former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ return to an NFL sideline has been troublesome thus far – to say the least. His Raiders are just 5-8 and have continually blown lead after lead over the course of the 2022 season. The addition of Davante Adams on offense has helped, as the star WR continues to put on a show week in and week out, but the team’s defense is subpar – allowing the eighth most PPG at 24.1, and the ninth most YPG at 365.
New England, though they are in the AFC playoff picture, isn’t in a much better place. Their offense is still stagnant, Mac Jones is fed up, and while the defense has beaten up on pedestrian quarterbacks throughout the 2022 season, they’ve yet to perform against an above-average signal caller. Derek Carr could be considered just that – an above-average signal caller. This will be a huge test for this Patriots defense.
Players to Watch
Pierre Strong Jr.
When Rhamondre Stevenson left Monday night’s game with an ankle injury, all of New England likely gasped at once. With Damien Harris already nursing an ailment, the Patriots running back room was down to just two rookies who had barely played a meaningful NFL snap.
Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris ended up filling the void just fine. Strong rushed five times for 70 yards and a touchdown, and Harris carried the ball eight times for 26 yards and a touchdown.
Strong will likely get more reps with Stevenson out. Let’s hope they utilize the former South Dakota State Jackrabbit’s speed to their advantage.
It feels like it’s more often than not that Kendrick Bourne makes this list, but this week especially eyes should be on him. Despite being in the dog house for what feels like all season, New England was forced to use Bourne on Monday night when DeVante Parker left the game with a concussion, and what do you know – it worked out well!
Bourne finished with 5 catches for 47 yards, but it’s not the stat line that was impressive. It was Bourne being able to make guys miss in space just like he did a season ago, and him taking full advantage of the reps he was given. With Parker likely out this week, New England should turn to Bourne again to make an impact on offense.
Josh Uche has arrived, folks. After his second three-sack game of 2022, the third-year player out of Michigan was named the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week and could well on his way to a Pro Bowl selection if he keeps this up.
He has clearly taken advantage of being a bookend to Matthew Judon – and with Vegas banged up on their offensive line, I can see another highlight game in Uche’s future this weekend.
The gauntlet of top-tier wide receivers the Patriots have been facing continues on this week with Davante Adams. Vegas traded for Adams this offseason and although the addition hasn’t helped in the wins column, he’s certainly added an element to their offense that they didn’t have before. Check this out:
With Jalen Mills banged up – Jon, Jack, and Marcus Jones will have their work cut out for them on Sunday. They held DeAndre Hopkins in check last weekend, but Adams is a different beast. I’ll be interested to see how they attack him.
Jones has had an average 2022 after signing a three-year, $51 million deal in Vegas this offseason. After notching double-digit sacks in each of his last six healthy seasons, he has just 4.5 for the underwhelming Raiders.
Being a former Patriot, Jones will want to show out against his old team. With New England’s offensive line in complete disarray and as banged up as they are, Jones could feast. They’ll need to have their eyes on him all afternoon.
The Raiders were hot for a while and looked like they could end up going on a little run, but they were stopped in their tracks last week by Baker Mayfield’s Rams (that sounds strange to say).
New England harps on a Vegas team still agonizing over that defeat. They need it more and they’ll find a way to get to 8-6 on Sunday afternoon. Pats win, cover, and the total goes under in a low-scoring affair.
Prediction: Patriots 21 – Raiders 17
Side: Patriots -1
Total: UNDER 44.5
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