New England Patriots Week 11: Game day thoughts vs. Oakland Raiders

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New England Patriots
FOXBORO, MA – OCTOBER 29: Rob Gronkowski /


– Gronk’s message for Mexico: “Yo soy fiesta, baby!”

– “This is not a vacation” said Captain Devin McCourty during practice this week. Tell that to Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola who got to goof around in Mexico City in a TV special done for the NFL Network. If the Pats lose to Oakland, it’s not going to be all that much fun to watch!

– Don’t look now but the Patriots actually have a running game! No, not as an afterthought to Mr. Brady’s passing game. No, not as a ploy to keep the enemy “honest”. With Burkhead now healthy, this group is strong. Woe betide the team that does not account for Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis, and James White. (Mike Gillislee was a healthy scratch last week and may not make the game day roster again this week) If the Raiders concentrate too much on stopping TB-12, that trio will make them pay. And let’s give a shout-out to James Develin, the fullback who makes all those other guys look good. (And he’s also catching a ball or two these days!) called them the best group of RB’s that Belichick has ever coached!

– So who’s the home team? Officially, Oakland. Unofficially it’s a tossup. Could be a lot of Patriots fans in the Mexican stadium as there are Patriots clubs down there. In addition, a lot of local Pats fans have enough money to travel and support the team! OTOH, the Southwest is a lot closer to Mexico than NE is and they basically hate the Pats generally so we’ll see.

More from Chowder and Champions

Malcolm Butler alert: Did you notice that Denver targeted the cornerback a lot last week? No wonder! They obtained much better results against Butler than when they threw in Stephon Gilmore’s direction. Here’s hoping the last week has allowed the Super Bowl Hero to regain his form.

– Cornerback Eric Rowe – listed as “questionable” this week but might make an appearance on Sunday. That should make things interesting, especially for Malcolm Butler.

– The Martellus update: I thought Bennett looked a little “questionable” himself and was certainly not 100% last week against Denver. Then again, that he was in the game at all was amazing! This week, I’m expecting him to improve after cleaning off some rust. Tom Brady said that his trust in him is “pretty high”. That speaks volumes to me.

– What a difference two weeks makes! The AFC East went from being tied for the winningest division in the NFL to being tied for second while the Bills went from scary to silly after the 47-10 beatdown by the Saints. (The NFC South tops everyone with 22 wins; the AFC and NFC North both have 20.)

– As predicted last week, special teams was the difference maker in last week’s rout of Denver. Former Patriots coach Brad Seely is currently coaching Oakland’s special teams so let’s see how well they do against his former boss!

– Pro Bol: voting is going on currently at until December 14.