New England Patriots: Final Thoughts On Matchup With Oakland Raiders


The New England Patriots will take the field at Gillette Stadium for the first time this season in a few hours, as they prepare to take on the 0-2 Oakland Raiders.

I believe this will be a pretty easy win for the Pats, and it could also give them an opportunity to work on their offense a bit, and try to get it back to the well-oiled machine we all know it to be.

Here are a few final thoughts as kickoff slowly approaches:

1. Running back situation

Stevan Ridley received 25 carries last week, while Shane Vereen only got six. Vereen was added to the injury report this past week with a shoulder injury, which leads us to believe that was the reason for his decrease in playing time. It will be important for the Patriots to establish a running game once again today, but this is also a game where I believe Vereen could shine. The Pats may be working on their passing game more than usual, which is an area where Vereen excels. Keep an eye on the running back rotation as the game progresses.

2. Solidify interior of offensive line

Most of the talk surrounding the Patriots’ offense this week has been about the lack of production from guys not named Edelman or Gronkowski. And as important as it is to get the rest of the wideouts going, it won’t matter if the big guys up front can’t protect Tom Brady. Ryan Wendell is listed as questionable in the injury report, so if he can’t go, I would expect Dan Connolly to start once again at center, and Jordan Devey at right guard. If Wendell is active, I think New England will go back to a rotation, moving Devey and Wendell in and out all game long.

3. Jamie Collins?

The second year linebacker did not play last week in Minnesota due to a thigh injury, and he is listed as questionable once again for today’s game. Deontae Skinner started in his place in week two, and to be kind, I will say it was not a good performance. I highly doubt Skinner will be starting for the Pats anytime soon, so if Collins can’t go, it will be interesting to see who Bill Belichick decides to go with as the third starting linebacker.

4. Will Tim Wright have an impact? 

New England certainly weren’t expecting tight end Tim Wright to become a star for them when they traded away Logan Mankins, but after seeing what he could do in the preseason, I think the team will try to get him more involved as the year goes on. He is fast, has a good set of hands, and can beat most linebackers in one-on-one man coverage. Look for Tom Brady to try and get Wright involved today.

Prediction: Pats 37 Oakland 13