1. Stop DMC from running
Fantasy owners who scooped up Raiders RB Darren McFadden this season are probably drooling over the matchup against the Patriots this week.
McFadden has rushed for 393 yards and three touchdowns so far, and he caught a TD pass, too. He’s easily the focal point of the Raiders’ offense, and the Pats’ No. 1 concern.
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The goal will be taking an early lead — and keeping the foot on the pedal. That would force the Raiders to throw, something they aren’t great at. But if McFadden finds a seam — look out. He’s going all ... the ... way.
2. Can Mankins stop Seymour?
When Logan Mankins and Richard Seymour butt heads Sunday in Oakland, it will definitely bring back some fuzzy practice memories.
But as soon as one of them gets thrown to the ground, it’ll be on.
Don’t buy into Seymour’s “just another game” act. The Pats shipped him to a dismal Oakland team two seasons ago. While the Raiders are doing OK now, it’s likely Seymour still holds a grudge.
Mankins and the Pats O-line will have their hands full with the big DE, who would love nothing more than to knock Tom Brady around.
3. Another loss would equal panic time
When the Patriots lose a game, eyebrows get raised. When they lose two games in a row, the alarms sound.
The Pats have only lost back-to-back games twice since 2003, and after a stunning loss to a Bills team they used to pick on twice a season, they’ll need to make things right.
You never see it here, but as losses pile up, doubt sets in. Week 5 won’t get any easier (Jets), and if the Pats can’t set the tone early in Oakland, a losing record after that game is a reality.