Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- This game is highlighted by the matchup of head coaches, with Bill Belichick facing long-time Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
- The Patriots are currently the No. 7 seed in the AFC playoff picture while the Raiders have squandered their postseason hopes by blowing winnable games.
- New England’s offense relies heavily on its backfield, which is currently riddled with injuries.
- The Raiders may be getting back one or both of Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow from injured reserve this week.
How new england Will Try To Win ::
The Patriots are currently in the thick of the AFC Wild Card hunt with a 7-6 record despite a very turbulent season, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. The Patriots are built to win on the back of their defense, which Football Outsiders ranks as the No. 3 DVOA defense in the NFL, while hoping their 25th ranked offense just doesn’t screw it up. As the Patriots offense has looked underwhelming and overmatched this year, many people have tried to figure out where the blame lies. They have an offensive coordinator who had been a defensive coach for the last 15 years prior to 2022, Mac Jones has looked lost often, and Bill Belichick has not exactly loaded this team up with talent at the skill positions. The truth is that all of those issues contribute to their struggles, though the play calling and scheme are the things that are probably most easily addressed at this point in the season.
Luckily for the Patriots, this week they face a Raiders defense that ranks 31st in the NFL through 14 weeks by Football Outsiders DVOA. Last week, the Raiders blew a two-score lead late in the fourth quarter against an even worse offense than New England’s (the Rams) who had a quarterback that had joined the team two days before the game. The Patriots offense has had its share of struggles this year, but they have shown the ability to put up points against poor defenses. Consider the fact that the Patriots have played six games against defenses currently ranked in the bottom-10 in the NFL in defensive DVOA. In those six games, the Patriots are averaging 26.3 points per game. In their other seven games, they are averaging 16.9 points per game. Those two numbers are the equivalent of the sixth and 29th ranked scoring offenses in the league. In short, the Patriots are a good offense when facing bad defenses and a bad offense against good defenses. The Patriots offense generally focuses on their running backs and short area passing, but Bill Belichick is notorious for game plans that attack opponents weaknesses. Just a couple of weeks ago on Thanksgiving, Mac Jones set a season high in pass attempts as the Patriots had a 75% pass rate against a Vikings defense that profiles very similarly to the Raiders (middle of the pack against the run while being awful against the pass). Both of the top two running backs for the Patriots are battling injuries, as Rhamondre Stevenson is looking unlikely to play and Damien Harris is slowly coming back from a thigh issue, which increases the likelihood that the Patriots will employ a similar game plan to the one they took to Minnesota when they nearly beat a very good Vikings team.
How las vegas Will Try To Win ::
mike johnson >>
- The Patriots run their offense primarily through their running backs and their running back situation is pretty messy this week.
- Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson are both listed as questionable and it seems likely that at least one, if not both, will play.
- Kevin Harris and Pierre Strong, Jr. both played well on Monday night, making things even harder to decipher.
- I love Rhamondre Stevenson as much as the next guy, but even with how great Stevenson has been, he hasn’t scored over 25 Draftkings points all season. I have a hard time believing he will do that for the first time on a short week with a lower body injury while having only one practice under his belt.
- If Stevenson is out but Harris plays, he becomes a pretty interesting play as someone Belichick trusts in a plus matchup. Harris has multi-touchdown upside and should be relatively low owned coming back from injury.
- If Stevenson and Damien Harris are both out, then Strong and Kevin Harris become very interesting at bargain basement prices.
- The late start for this game gives us the opportunity to gain some leverage on the uncertainty around this situation if we are prepared to do so.
- Mac Jones has been far from impressive this season, but went for over 5x his Week 15 salary in the Vikings game referenced earlier. He makes a ton of sense as a player with a very high price considered ceiling that opens up the rest of your roster. Jones stacks (single or double) should be squarely in DFS tournament consideration.
- As touched on in this game’s breakdown, the Patriots offense is as likely to air it out this week as they will ever be. Devante Parker and Jakobi Meyers are both likely to be out, leaving the Patriots offense full of cheap players who are likely to see volume in a plus matchup. All of Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Tyquan Thornton, and Hunter Henry are priced at $3,400 or less on Draftkings and have a high likelihood of seeing 5+ targets.
- On the Raiders side, this is not a week I will be chasing the production Josh Jacobs has had this season in a tough matchup against a very good opponent – especially as his injuries continue to mount under his insane workload.
- Davante Adams is an interesting case study this week as he has torched man coverage but runs a risk of being schemed away in this unique situation. If Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow do not play, my interest in Adams dwindles as I see more likelihood that the Patriots sell out enough to limit his upside. Adams is not a priority piece for me but also not one I will be completely writing off as I will certainly take chances on his upside in lineups that make sense (like opposite NE stacks).
- If Waller and Renfrow sit, Foster Moreau and Mack Hollins are very interesting to me as potential beneficiaries from a New England game plan hell bent on taking away Adams and the running game.
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