Once again, it's time for our weekly Q&A session with a blogger who covers the Patriots' upcoming opponent. Up this week is Levi Damien from Thoughts from the Dark Side, Bloguin's Oakland Raiders blog. Here's what Levi had to say about the Raiders and Pats leading up to Sunday's game.
1. With Hue Jackson as the first year head coach, how has he been able to change the mindset of Raider nation to a more positive one?
Winning. That changes the mindset of the Raider Nation more than anything. He came in as the offensive coordinator last season and the team started winning. Tom Cable was well-liked but he was not an offensive guru the way Hue Jackson is. The Raiders had almost zero offense in seven seasons prior and that was just after having had the best offense in the NFL. That is quite a shock to the system and the fans have waited a long time to see some the offense return.
2. The obvious player to watch on Oakland is running back Darren McFadden. How do you think he will fare this weekend?
He will continue the type of games he has been having all season. The Raiders use him in a variety of ways. Most of which are running the ball but even in those instances, Al Saunders and Hue Jackson have put a lot of different variations in the playbook to find ways to get him the ball in space as often as possible. And when he isn’t running it, he will be catching screens, dumps and passes into the flat. He should have between 150 and 200 yards from scrimmage on Sunday between the run and pass.
3. Due to the Raiders' lack of healthy wide receivers, can Jason Campbell take advantage of the Pats' 32nd ranked pass D?
Actually on Sunday the only receiver who will be out for certain is Louis Murphy. Jacoby Ford was back practicing this week and is questionable for the game. That said, the Raiders have been thin the past two weeks at receiver and were still able to do what they set out to do in the passing game. Rookie Denarius Moore is the genuine article and he will cause fits in the secondary. He had Antonio Cromartie looking downright foolish last Sunday. And he had 152 yards receiving and two touchdowns against the Bills. Aside from him, the other receiver I expect to make a big splash is Kevin Boss. It will be his second game back and New England gives up a lot of catches to opposing tight ends. So, yeah, I think the Raiders should be able to capitalize on the Pats weak pass defense.
4. We have to ask about Richard Seymour. How has he adapted to the Oakland environment with his leadership?
He has changed the entire mindset of the players around him. He walked in and instantly became a leader of this team. He brought Tommy Kelly up to the form we knew he was capable of but rarely showed. His switch to defensive tackle was tremendous too. He is a dominant three technique. Now he is a Pro Bowler once again which even further earns him respect from his teammates. To answer the question, I don’t think he adapted to the environment here, he changed the environment. And it was an environment that needed changed.
5. Give me an X-Factor for this game.
I think I gave it away already. It’s Denarius Moore. We don’t know yet if he will start but last game he didn’t technically start and still had a first down catch on the second play of the game. He has scored three touchdowns in the last two games and is showing the kind of amazing receiver skills that we knew he had because we saw him in camp lighting up every corner and safety the Raiders had—many times, two or three at a time.
6. Who wins? Patriots/Raiders? Why?
Patriots win in a shootout. But I will add this one caveat: Brady is going to need a near perfect game for this to happen. If he turns the ball over more than once, the Raiders take this game. I had the Jets winning last week and I was wrong mainly because they had two costly turnovers. The Coliseum is sold out and they will be crazy and loud so this will be no walk in the park for the Patriots.