After 11 straight years of missing the playoffs, the 2014 NFL season hasn’t gone any better for the Oakland Raiders, who sit at 0-2. As the team looks to win its first game, things might get worse before they get any better when they visit the New England Patriots in Week 3.
Not only have the Patriots been named the biggest favorite of Week 3, but the point spread is the largest of the young season. The betting odds at Las Vegas casinos have New England giving Oakland 14 points, with the over/under set at 47 total points.
In Week 2, the Raiders suffered one of the biggest losses on the schedule, while the Patriots had one of the largest margins of victory. At home, Oakland wasn’t competitive against the Houston Texans, losing by 16 points and trailing 27-0 at the start of the final quarter. New England went on the road and blew out the Minnesota Vikings 30-7.
The Raiders will try to get their first win where only three visitors have gotten a victory since the start of the 2009 season. Last season, the Patriots went unbeaten at Gillette Stadium in the regular season and playoffs, outscoring opponents by an average of 11 points per game.
If the first two games are any indication, Oakland could have trouble scoring points all season long. Led by rookie quarterback Derek Carr, the Raiders are averaging just 14 points per game. Carr has completed 63.5 percent of his passes, but they’ve mostly been for short gains, as he ranks 33rd in yards per attempt.
New England showed what they can do against a subpar quarterback last week, forcing Matt Cassel to throw four interceptions, including Darrelle Revis’s first pick with the team. The Patriots offense didn’t need to do much, as Tom Brady threw 21 times for just 149 yards and a touchdown. Stevan Ridley added 101 yards on the ground and a score.
Even with a rookie at quarterback, the Raiders’ rushing attack has been worse than its passing game. With the loss of Rashad Jennings via free agency and Maurice Jones-Drew battling a hand injury, the team has totaled just 126 rushing yards.
Jones-Drew sat out in Week 2, but returned to practice on Thursday. Justin Tuck and Carlos Rogers also participated in Thursday’s practice, after sitting out on Wednesday. Wide receiver Rod Streater didn’t participate, but expects to play on Sunday.
If the Raiders hope to pull off the upset, they might have to follow the blueprint of the Miami Dolphins in the opening week. Miami put pressure on Brady, sacking him four times, as well as having success on the ground with 5.0 yards per carry in a 14-point win. Linebacker Sio Moore has one of Oakland’s two sacks in 2014, and he might miss the game with an ankle injury.
Prediction: Brady hasn’t put up big numbers in his the first two games, so he could be due for a big performance on Sunday. Even if he doesn’t throw for 300-plus yards, the Patriots will likely win easily. The Raiders have few offensive weapons, and Carr isn’t ready to lead an above-average offense. Considering New England’s track record at home, the Week 3 contest might be the closest thing to a lock this season.
Predicted Score: New England 31, Oakland 10