The Las Vegas Raiders kick off against the New England Patriots for the first time since the preseason.
In 2022 Training Camp, the Silver and Black hosted the Patriots for two joint practices and defeated them, 23-6, in the final game of the preseason. A lot has changed for both teams since that exhibition contest, yet both will still have familiarity with one another as there are a total of 10 players in this game that have played for both teams.
Here's a trio of matchups to follow heading into Week 15.
Josh McDaniels vs. Bill Belichick
The student vs. teacher dynamic highlights this contest in Allegiant Stadium.
It's been well-documented the ties that the Raiders Head Coach has with the New England Patriots, winning six Super Bowls under Bill Belichick. Before arriving to Las Vegas, McDaniels was in his second stint as the Patriots offensive coordinator for 10 seasons. McDaniels brought numerous former Patriots players and assistant coaches, as well as Raiders GM Dave Ziegler, to help forge a new identity.
"He's been invaluable to me in a lot of ways," McDaniels said of Belichick. "Hard to measure all of them. Obviously, football background. Understanding how this league works. I got to see first-hand how to try and do it the right way. His philosophy on everything – offseason, Training Camp, in-season, postseason, evaluations, draft, free agency. He gave a lot of his time to me and I was able to hopefully pick up as much as I could."
The two coaches have only faced each other in the regular season once. While McDaniels was in his first stint as a head coach in 2009, his Denver Broncos defeated Belichick and the Patriots, 20-17, in overtime.
Jermaine Eluemunor vs. Matt Judon
The Raiders right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor is enjoying the best season of his NFL career to date.
It's been helped by the arrival of McDaniels. The two were in New England for two seasons before Eluemunor signed with the Raiders in 2021. He's been one of the most versatile players on the offensive line this season, playing snaps at left and right tackle, right guard and jumbo tight end this season. He hasn't allowed a sack since Week 2 and holds a career-high 72.6 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.
"I'm really proud of the way Jermaine [has] fought," said McDaniels. "His career didn't necessarily start the way he wanted it to. Bouncing between guard and tackle, and changed teams a couple of times. I think Jermaine, a credit to him, just stuck with it. Continues to try and improve as a football player. Has carved out a good role for us this year and played very admirably."
He'll have a difficult challenge ahead in facing Matt Judon, the Patriots outside linebacker. Judon, like Eluemunor, is also enjoying a standout season. The three-time Pro Bowler is tied for the league lead in sacks (14.5), and has recorded 26 quarterback hits, three pass deflections and a forced fumble.
Las Vegas Raiders vs. the red zone
As a team, the Silver and Black have struggled in the red zone, which was notable last Thursday against the Los Angeles Rams.
The offense got inside the red zone four times against the Rams defense, however only came away with a touchdown once. The other three red zone possessions resulted in two Daniel Carlson field goals and an interception. As for the defense, they allowed a touchdown to the Rams offense on their one occasion in the red zone.
Overall this season, the Raiders offense is 28th in the league in red zone percentage (44.7). Their defense has allowed a 63.4 percent success rating in the red zone, which is 26th in the league. Improving in this category could be beneficial for a Raiders team facing a fluid running attack and a stingy defense in New England.
"It really comes down to us players doing things better," Carr said. "We broke down all the plays in the red zone and it's clear like, 'If we do this, if you do this, if you do this' and Josh [McDaniels] has always tells it like it is. And you can't leave that meeting and go, 'Man, it's not that.' It's obvious. So when we sit there as leaders and we see it, you try your best to push those guys or yourself."
Head inside Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center to view the best photos from Wednesday's practice.