2. Week 6 @ Las Vegas Raiders
Bill Belichick vs. Josh McDaniels is a game that’s going to be circled on Patriots fans’ calendars, especially after the unforgettable finish to last year’s 30-24 win.
This year’s Raiders team isn’t looking nearly as dangerous as they were last year though, and their win total projection in the betting markets is tied for the lowest among any of the Patriots’ opponents. That means this should be one of the softest matchups on the calendar.
Playing the Raiders somewhat early in the season makes this an especially good spot too. Jimmy Garoppolo will still be relatively new in McDaniels’ offense, with just over a month of live game action under his belt.
That means playing the Raiders in Week 6 will, in all likelihood, be easier than if we had to play them down the stretch.
Garoppolo will have plenty of weapons at his disposal, and we’ve seen first hand that he can be a capable game manager. But as a guy who does his best work in short-yardage areas, timing and chemistry are even more important than they are for players who fit more in that free-wheeling gunslinger archetype.
I have no doubt that Garoppolo and Davante Adams will cause headaches for opposing defenses as the season goes on, but by Week 6 they may not quite be firing on all cylinders yet, and the Patriots must take advantage of that edge.
This may be as close to a gimme as we’ll get all season. Considering one win could make or break the Pats’ playoff chances when all is said and done, we absolutely can’t afford to lose any of the games we’re supposed to win.