Patriots

What experts are predicting for Sunday’s Patriots-Raiders game

Most experts expect Sunday's game to be a close one.

Mac Jones will go head-to-head with his offensive coordinator from last season. Chris Unger/Getty Images

Josh McDaniels has beaten Bill Belichick before. Even more humbling is the fact that Matt Patricia managed to beat his former boss during his short stint as head coach in Detroit.

Do we really think the Patriots have any offensive wrinkles from the minds of Patricia and Joe Judge that McDaniels won’t be able to anticipate?

The former Patriots offensive coordinator hasn’t had a great go of it over the course of his second career head-coaching gig. The Las Vegas Raiders are 5-8 this season, and two of their losses came from a head coach who had never coached above high school (Colts) and against Baker Mayfield, who had been with the Rams for about two days before leading Los Angeles to its comeback win last Thursday. McDaniels, who signed a four-year deal with the team last offseason, isn’t going anywhere though. The Raiders are probably through paying coaches who are no longer working for them.

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So, as cliché as it might sound, this is his Super Bowl Sunday afternoon. Beating his former boss, not to mention the offensive Tweedle Dee and Dum that have replaced him in New England, will make all the shortcomings this season worth it. Or, at least it will make it better.

The Patriots are (somehow) still fighting for their playoff lives. The Raiders and McDaniels sit in their way, the final nail in the comeuppance factor of 2022. You think you can win with those guys?

The best thing that can be said about this game is that it won’t be held Sunday night. Shoutout to the NFL’s flex folks. The real heroes.

This week’s predictions

Cass Keefer, Las Vegas Sun: Raiders (+1). “The Raiders’ offense has been far more explosive than the Patriots’ and should be able to hit some big plays that prove the difference in the game. This is also a good spot for Las Vegas, which had four more days to prepare off of Thursday Night Football as opposed to a New England side that’s playing back-to-back road games off of Monday Night Football.”

Globe staff: Split (Vegas -1).

Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub: Raiders. “The matchup of Bill Belichick and one of his chief disciples will obviously get a lot of attention, but don’t take the cheese. The real confrontation with the Patriots these days is on the inside: Mac Jones vs. Matt Patricia. You may not want to hear this, but the Patriots are dysfunctional and everybody knows it. Despite that, somewhat incredible, Murray likes the Pats. (Not a misprint.) Felger and I both like the Raiders, who have one major obstacle in their path: their defense.”

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Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times: Patriots 24, Raiders 20. “The Patriots rushed the passer well against Arizona but looked a little vulnerable against the run. Raiders look good then horrible depending on the day. New England wins on coaching.”

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 30, Raiders 27. “The Patriots beat the Cardinals with an impressive second half Monday night, while the Raiders are coming off a horrible loss to the Rams last Thursday. The Patriots are staying in Arizona for the week, which will help the travel issues. Mac Jones showed some life against the Cardinals and I think he will here as well. The Patriots win it.”

CBS Sports staff: Six of eight like New England (-1).

ESPN staff: Five of eight pick the Patriots.

Michael Hurley, CBS Boston: Patriots (-1). “ Convince yourself that Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow will return and combine forces with Davante Adams, and that Josh McDaniels and Derek Carr would figure it all out. Have fun. I’ve seen enough to ever believe in the Raiders on any given week.”

Jimmy Kempski, PhillyVoice: Patriots. “I hate this Raiders team. Actually, no. I hate myself for picking them (-6.5) over the Rams last week. I should know better. With a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Raiders were about to get the ball back, when Clelin Ferrell inexplicably jumped offsides.”

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Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports: Patriots (+1). “I know this: New England won’t beat itself because of poor coaching.”

Sheil Kapadia, The Ringer: Patriots (+1). “As for the Patriots, they took care of business against Colt McCoy and the Cardinals on Monday night. I didn’t see anything in that game to suggest that New England is turning a corner. But you better believe I’m trusting Bill Belichick over his former protege, McDaniels, in a toss-up game.”

Vinnie Iyer, The Sporting News: Patriots 23, Raiders 20. “The Patriots and Belichick will have the right defensive scheming to confuse Derek Carr and thwart the offensive system from Josh McDaniels. New England will work to contain Josh Jacobs and the running game first and make Carr try to beat them with someone other than Davante Adams. Mac Jones and Rhamondre Stevenson will have success in a balanced, diverse attack against a defense that isn’t much after Maxx Crosby and former Patriot Chandler Jones.”

Bill Bender, The Sporting News: Patriots 27, Raiders 24. “Josh McDaniels will get a shot at mentor Bill Belichick. The Raiders have the rest advantage, and the loser of this game likely is out of the AFC playoff hunt. We’re going to take New England – who needs this one knowing Cincinnati comes to Gillette Stadium next week. Belichick gets the best of his former assistant coach.”

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 27, Raiders 23. “The Patriots keep making a late-season push for the playoffs, with Bill Belichick finally avenging his loss to Josh McDaniels from 2010.”

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Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 24, Raiders 17. ” The Patriots are still competing for the AFC wild card, and they’ll take care of business against Josh McDaniels and the Raiders.”

FiveThirtyEight: Raiders, 51 percent (pick ‘em).

Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Raiders 22, Patriots 20. “The Patriots just had one of the most depressing wins of the season in prime time. The Raiders just had one of the most depressing losses of the season in prime time. There’s not much separating these teams’ overall play, but the total lack of cohesion on New England’s offense makes the difference here. Josh McDaniels took Patriots fullback Jakob Johnson with him to Las Vegas and is running the type of 1980s rushing attack that the Pats miss dearly. The Raiders may also get back Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow this week. This is a New England team just waiting to be put out of its misery as a playoff contender.”

NFL Pickwatch: Fifty-five percent Patriots (-110).

It says here: Raiders 33, Patriots 17. I know Josh McDaniels has had a rough go of it, but I’m OK taking his offensive mind in a head-to-head matchup with Matt Patricia.

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