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Key Matchups To Watch: Oakland Raiders vs. New England Patriots


For the seventh time in franchise history, the Oakland Raiders are headed abroad.

After taking down the Houston Texans 27-20 last season, the Silver and Black will return to Estadio Azteca this weekend to play "host" to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Head Coach Jack Del Rio's group went into their bye last weekend coming off the heels of an impressive, primetime win over the Miami Dolphins, while New England enters the Week 11 tilt as winners of five in a row, and perhaps even more impressively, they're undefeated on the road in 2017.

With their win over the Dolphins, the Raiders are back in the thick of things in the AFC, making Sunday's international affair all the more important. Before the game officially kicks off, here are three, key matchups to watch, presented by Madden 18.

Raiders Running Backs vs. Patriots Running Backs

Both the Raiders and the Patriots like to run the football, and both squads also like to use multiple players to carry the rock.

Between the two teams, there are six running backs who have at least 100 rushing yards to their name (four Patriots, two Raiders), epitomizing just how versatile both squads are in their respective ground attacks.

While the Raiders still rank No. 27 in the league in terms of rushing yards per game, the group was able to get Marshawn Lynch rocking the last time they hit the field, as "Beast Mode" scored two touchdowns in the big win over the Dolphins.

While both teams understandably get a lot of credit for their respective aerial attacks, make sure you keep an eye on how each squad utilizes their backs, both on the ground, and as receiving threats too.

Defensive End Khalil Mack vs. Offensive Tackle Nate Solder

Even at 40 years of age, Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks in the game, but even the best need a little protection to make sure they have time to operate.

Enter Nate Solder.

The veteran tackle is now in his seventh season as a Patriot, and once again in 2017, he's the man tasked with protecting Brady's blindside.

Brady has been outstanding yet again this year, but if the Raiders are able to regularly get to him Sunday afternoon at Estadio Azteca, it would certainly play to their advantage.

The Patriots have allowed 22 sacks so far in 2017 – which ranks tied for 18th in the NFL – so I'll be interested to see if the Raiders pass rush can get rocking and rolling against New England.

In particular, make sure you keep a close watch on Khalil Mack; while he hasn't taken down the quarterback since the Raiders Week 7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, No. 52 is one of the rare players in the league who can take over a game in the blink of an eye.

Let's see if he does just that Sunday night in Mexico City.

Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. vs. Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels

Statistically speaking, the Patriots boast the best offense in the NFL, averaging a very impressive 409.4 yards per game.

They score more points than nearly every other team in the league (28.6), and they're also a well-oiled machine on the third down.

Plain and simple, Josh McDaniels' group know how to score points, and if the Silver and Black want to fly back to Northern California with a win, they're going to have to find a way to limit Tom Brady and Co.

That's certainly no easy task, but the Raiders defense has shown to have a knack for the big moment this year; they'll need to bring their A game Sunday afternoon against an explosive Patriots group.

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