Patriots Four Down Preview: New England Patriots (7-6) at Las Vegas Raiders (5-8)

Kickoff: The Patriots wrap up their week long trip to the West Coast today with a visit to old friend Josh McDaniels and the Las Vegas Raiders. Both teams are currently in playoff contention but with a win today, the Patriots could strengthen their chances of getting in and end the Raiders season in the process.

The Patriots and Raiders will play their first regular season game in Las Vegas. The two teams faced off in the preseason after holding joint practices against each other.

The Patriots have won the last six regular season games against the Raiders, including the last match up between the two on Sept. 27, 2020 at Gillette Stadium when the Patriots beat the Raiders 36-20.

The Patriots hold an 18-14-1 lead in the regular season against the Raiders.

Here are keys to today’s game.

1st Down: Get off to a good start offensively: The Patriots need to get off to a good start offensively. They cannot fall behind early and then try to play catch up. They are not built to come from behind.

2nd Down: Get creative with doubling Adams: The Patriots will deploy a variety of double teams against Raiders star wide receiver Davante Adams. Look for them to double him most of the game especially in the red zone. They are going to force Derek Carr to look elsewhere if he wants to make plays in the passing game.

3rd Down: Run fits: Josh Jacobs is expected to play today and look for the Raiders to give him 20-25 carries. Controlling the line of scrimmage and fitting in properly against the run will be a big key for the Patriots in this game.

4th Down: Control the edges offensively: The Patriots are going to have to find a way to control the edges offensively. They must find a way to block Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones on a consistent basis. New England runs a lot of screens so that is one way to slow them down. Draw and play-action passes is another. Either way. Slowing them down is important today.

Extra Point: The two teams have met three times in the playoffs. In 1976, the Raiders beat the Patriots 24-21. The Patriots advanced to their first AFC Championship Game in 1985 after beating the Raiders, 27-20, in Los Angeles. In 2001, the Patriots beat Oakland, 16-13, in overtime in the last game ever played in Foxboro Stadium. They went on to win Super Bowl XXXVI.

Final Drive: This is a must win for the Patriots, plain and simple. If they want to keep their playoff hopes alive, they have got to have this one. Getting off to a good start, winning third down on both sides of the ball and winning the turnover battle are all paramount today if they want to win. It won’t be easy but the Patriots can win this game. In fact, they should win this game.