1. Undefeated against his mentor
While the narrative has been told countless times before, Head Coach Josh McDaniels will be facing an extremely familiar team. He was the offensive coordinator of the Patriots for 13 seasons, and won six Super Bowl titles under Bill Belichick. It's also worth noting McDaniels has a 2-0 record as a head coach against Belichick and the Patriots.
"[P]art of the challenge of playing them is they're going to have an idea of how to try to stop you from beating them the way you want to beat them," McDaniels said. "And that's the chess match."
2. "He's seen everything"
Along with McDaniels, Jimmy Garoppolo has a history with the Patriots. The team drafted him in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Eastern Illinois. He spent his first three seasons in the league backing up Tom Brady, winning two Super Bowls in the process.
He's one of six quarterbacks that have started a game for Belichick and then started a game against Belichick later in their career. He'll also become the first such quarterback to face Belichick with multiple teams. Garoppolo faced Belichick with the San Francisco 49ers in 2020, throwing for 277 yards and completing 80 percent of his passes in a 33-6 victory.
"I think it'd be pretty hard to surprise Coach [Belichick], he's been in this league for a while," Garoppolo said Wednesday. "Obviously, one of the best ever do it. He's seen just about everything. So, we'll do what we do. I'm sure we'll have a couple of wrinkles here and there. I'm sure they will too. But yeah, that's kind of the chess match when you play against a former coach, I've learned. It's fun though, man. You've got to embrace it and make the best of it."
3. "No flinch" from Amik Robertson
With the secondary still banged up, Amik Robertson is in line for more snaps this Sunday against the Patriots. With how he's played this season, its rightfully deserved.
The fourth-year cornerback is riding the wave of a game-winning interception on Monday Night Football. The momentous play shouldn't overshadow many of the other positive things he's done. He's been making an impact on special teams along with his increased reps at nickel and outside cornerback.
"He didn't flinch when our corner situation was a little in flux last week," McDaniels said of Robertson. "You never saw any flinch from Amik at all. And I thought he made a great play on the ball. The first thing he did was find the ball. A lot of times guys in that situation may not turn and then they end up running into the receiver and then you have a penalty and you're on the one-yard line. But I thought he turned, made the right play, found the ball caught the ball, stayed in bounds.
"His vertical was apparent on that play. He's a great athlete. He's a great kid and really happy he's on our team."
4. The play of the offensive line
Things have been up and down for the offensive line lately.
While the 2.75 seconds of quarterback release time the Raiders are averaging is above the league average, the unit is still trying to get things going in the run game. So far, the Raiders are averaging 3.10 yards per carry and three sacks allowed per game.
Nevertheless, the Raiders offensive line has more than enough talent to get things going down the stretch. They've collected limited pre-snap penalties the last few weeks, with left tackle Kolton Miller being one of six offensive lineman with zero holding penalties and 20+ games started since last season. Guard Dylan Parham has only one false start in his first 20 starts.
Guard Greg Van Roten has stepped up in pass protection, with a 80.8 pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus, while second-year tackle Thayer Munford Jr. has a 73.2 run blocking grade in the snaps he sees behind starting right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor. The offensive line will need to be at their best this Sunday, going up against a Patriots defense that has notched 12 sacks on opposing quarterbacks.
5. Davante Adams' status
Davante Adams is still dealing with a shoulder injury suffered against the Chargers, but should be good to go for Sunday. After being a limited participant in Thursday's walkthrough, he was a full participant in Friday's practice and does not have a designated game status. Earlier this week, the receiver said that he's "still a little sore but making progress." He totaled four catches for 45 yards against the Packers.
6. More in store for Michael Mayer?
Michael Mayer is slowly but surely finding his groove in the offense.
After catching one pass and a two-point conversion through his first four NFL games, he was targeted more in Week 5's win against the Packers. The rookie tight end broke off for two big plays, equating to nearly 40 receiving yards. He's already been relied on heavily in run and pass blocking, but as the offense continues to find its rhythm, more targets could come his way.
"[W]hen you have a tight end or a big receiver, big back that gets the ball in space and you make smaller men try to tackle you, sometimes you create even bigger plays. And he ended up with a handful yards after they touched him the other night, too," McDaniels said.
"That's always been a position that we've gotten the ball to quite a bit inside the middle of field, and I think that as the season goes on we need to continue to try to do that. Got good players at that position, obviously invested a significant draft pick in Michael and that position group is coming on, improving, working hard in practice, which is important."
The Raiders hit the practice field at Intermountain Health Performance Center to prepare for their Sunday matchup against the New England Patriots at Allegiant Stadium.