First, the Golden State Warriors. Saturday night it will be the San Jose Sharks. On Sunday, the Oakland Raiders.
If it’s a bit disingenuous to grab the pom-poms and anticipate a Bay Area Beatdown of Northern California’s trio of professional sports teams over the weekend, then so be it. After all, the Bay Area has raised a championship banner more recently than its East Coast sibling of New England. By four months.
But with the Celtics’ dramatic, 92-88, win over the defending NBA champs Thursday night at the Garden, we throttle into an entire weekend of regional matchups. The Bruins, coming off a win of their own Thursday in Los Angeles, face off against the Sharks looking to scratch out of last place in the NHL’s Atlantic Division. The Patriots, of course, face the Raiders Sunday afternoon in Mexico City.
The 49ers have Jimmy Garoppolo. The Giants have Pablo Sandoval.
There’s some give-and-take with the Bay Area. But not this weekend.
This week’s picks
Can Inman, East Bay Times: Patriots 23, Raiders 20. “Tom Brady’s jersey makes a triumphant return to Mexico, where it was found after being stolen amid the Patriots’ Super Bowl celebration.”
Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots 38, Raiders 23. “Ole’! NFL visits high-altitude Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Tom Brady could play wearing a sombrero and he’d still throw for 350 yards against a Raiders defense that’s worst in NFL in opponent passer rating and completion percentage.”
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 31, Raiders 20. “The Patriots seem to be hitting their stride as they head south to play the Raiders. Oakland is coming off a bye, so they will be rested. But I think their defense will have major problems slowing Tom Brady and his offense. The Patriots keep on rolling.”
CBS Sports staff: Seven out of eight pick New England (+6.5 Oakland). Pats are a unanimous pick straight-up.
USA Today staff: All Pats.
David Steele, Sporting News: Patriots 33, Raiders 30. “To the NFL’s credit, last year’s game in Mexico City turned out to be a great event, with an entertaining game between the Raiders and Texans to boot. This could duplicate or surpass it if both fan bases show up and show out. The Patriots are as motivated as usual and appear to have smoothed out their early-season glitches. The Raiders couldn’t be more motivated, hanging around the fringes of the playoff chase but also within view of the AFC West lead despite their terrible recent losing streak.”
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 38, Raiders 34. “When the Raiders were enjoying their breakout 2016 season under coach Jack Del Rio, some thought they were built to beat the Patriots. Derek Carr was unfazed by weak pass defenses, and Del Rio’s unpredictable, aggressive style was just enough to throw Bill Belichick’s team off. Oakland can still give New England trouble with Carr and Marshawn Lynch, but the Raiders are too beat up defensively to slow down Tom Brady. Oakland brings a lot of attitude in the altitude, along with a lot of points, but the Patriots will score more.”
SB Nation staff: Seven out of nine pick the Pats.
Benjamin Hoffman, New York Times: Patriots. “It is hard to complain about a 41-16 victory, but the Patriots (7-2) allowed enough yardage last week against a Denver offense led by Brock Osweiler for it to qualify as troubling. The good news is that New England has picked a fantastic season to work through some issues, as the A.F.C. has been awful. There is a chance that Derek Carr could regain some of his mojo from last season, which would put a ton of pressure on New England’s secondary, but the Raiders (4-5) just don’t seem to have the right pieces to succeed.”
Chris Simms, Bleacher Report: Patriots 34, Raiders 21. “Of course, this game is advantage Patriots in all facets. Oakland hasn’t been able to run the ball, and that isn’t going to start against New England because the Patriots have size up front. Derek Carr might be able to throw the ball on New England some, but he’s going to have to be perfect for the Raiders to have any chance in this game.”
Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: Patriots. “The Patriots’ defense got off to a rough start this season, but it has settled in over the last five games, when it has averaged just 13.4 points allowed per game. Meanwhile, the offense looks like it always has. I’ll take the Pats -6.5 all day.”
Five Thirty Eight: Patriots with a 79 percent chance of winning.
ESPN staff: Eight out of nine pick the Patriots.
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 34, Raiders 20. “Whether Massachusetts, California, or Mexico, the Raiders simply aren’t ready to keep pace with the Patriots.”
Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 35, Raiders 31. “The altitude of Mexico City will make this game an interesting one in the kicking game, and a 70-yard field goal isn’t out of the question. Look for Tom Brady to complete some deep passes against the Raiders’ secondary and win a high-scoring game.”
Elliot Harrison, NFL.com: Patriots 30, Raiders 21. “What looked to be one of the juiciest matchups of 2017 in the preseason has lost a bit of luster. Yet, now it could over-deliver. The Silver and Black could be Silver and Back if the offensive line overwhelms the Patriots’ front seven. No amount of ingenious Belichick/Patricia scheming can blot out that advantage — IF Oakland’s offensive line plays up to its talent. I’ll bet you a buffalo nickel the Pats get their convoy of RBs isolated on Oakland LBs — and when the Raiders adjust … Gronk. By the way, the Patriots have won 12 consecutive road games dating back to last season, tying their own franchise mark set from 2006 to ’08. The 49ers own the longest streak in NFL history with 18, from 1988 to 1990. Of course, those Niner teams darn-near three-peated. (Is three-peated OK to use as a verb? Who wants to piss off Pat Riley?)”
It says here: Patriots 42, Raiders 17. When’s the Steelers game?