- Las Vegas and New England rank 22nd and 23rd in situation-neutral pace through two weeks.
Las Vegas is riding high at 2-0 after a big Monday Night Football win over the New Orleans Saints. But now they head across the country to face New England on a short week. The Patriots are coming off a close defeat on Sunday Night Football in which they predictably opened up the passing game a little more, but still showed how their new offense is centered around a rejuvenated Cam Newton.
And despite records, they are simply the better team here. In Week 1, we saw when New England was able to build a lead and dictate tempo, they want to play slow and run the ball. So far this season, New England has the second-slowest time to snap in situations where they lead by 7 or more points.
The Raiders, meanwhile, are without playmaking rookie Henry Ruggs, and are known for their deliberate style of play. The broadcast team on last week’s Monday Night Football spent considerable time discussing the number of plays and time of some of their drives, which is a great offensive trait in theory, but not as positive when it’s your only path to production because you struggle to generate explosive plays. That’s been the story for the Raiders with Derek Carr under center, as they’ve finished no better than 20th in the league in explosive play rate over the past four seasons. Along with that, Las Vegas has posted the fourth-slowest time to snap when trailing by 7 or more points so far in 2020, and in a much larger sample in 2019 they were the second-slowest team in those situations.
Both teams in this game are without one of their top offensive linemen, with the Patriots missing center David Andrews and the Raiders playing without guard Richie Incognito. New England offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn is also questionable, as is Las Vegas running back Josh Jacobs, though he’s expected to play. The injury issues on the offensive side of the ball could further limit scoring.
It’s easy to see this game playing out a particular way. The Raiders may be 2-0, but with victories over Carolina and a reeling Saints team without Michael Thomas and with a rapidly aging Drew Brees, they are one of the least intimidating 2-0 teams in the league. Meanwhile, New England looked great in Seattle. Their defense is still feeling the effects of several opt outs, but Cam Newton under Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels has created the result any football fan would hope for — a former MVP in a perfect system to show off his full abilities.
Back home against a west coast team playing at 1 pm ET on the east coast on a short week, the Patriots are in prime position to dictate this game. And if that happens, we’re looking at New England imposing their will in a new run-focused offense, the Raiders struggle to score quickly and effectively in trying to keep up, and the Patriots getting back in the victory column in a lower-scoring affair.
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NFL Expert Picks
Pick 1: New England -6 @ -120
Pick 2: Under 47 @ -110
NFL Free Picks
Ben Gretch is known for his ability to use statistics and in-depth knowledge to break down NFL games and pick winners. Elsewhere this week we have more great NFL coverage from Ben Rolfe and the enigmatic Davis Mattek delivering a video breakdown of that huge Monday Night Football game.