New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

While Mac Jones is playing for playoff contention, his counterpart may be playing for job retention. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • Leaving Las Vegas in late August, the Patriots headed into the regular season facing a headwind of questions and concerns that have yet to subside.

    Their 23-6 loss in the preseason finale featured more of the same offensive struggles seen from the start of training camp through several preceding days of joint practices with the host Raiders. Fourteen weeks later, now accompanied by compounding injuries, the offense remains too frequently inefficient; its modus operandi dominating discussions and driving declarations heard on the 24/7 loop of local sports talk.

    All that being said and with four weeks of the season undone, the Patriots enjoy agency over their postseason aspirations. Understanding that circumstances and their schedule leave little to no room for error — either in process or results — here on out, they are 7-6 and currently included in the would-be, seven-team AFC playoff field.

    Which, contrary to August appearances in practices or their preseason exhibition, puts the Pats in a much better place than their once-again counterparts, the Raiders. Vegas is 5-8, coming off a seventh one-score loss and, even more remarkably, fourth when holding a double-digit, second-half lead.

    A Week 10 loss to the Colts, immediately after Indianapolis replaced fired head coach Frank Reich with coaching novice Jeff Saturday, should have marked the Raiders nadir. Three straight wins and renewed playoff hopes followed. But last Thursday, Carolina castoff Baker Mayfield, in Los Angeles for roughly 48 hours, rallied the Rams from a 16-3, fourth-quarter deficit to a 98-yard, game-winning drive.

    Opposite Mayfield, Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr carelessly threw a costly end zone interception late in the first half to crack open the door to the Rams’ much later comeback. Carr finished with just 20 passes attempted, completing only 11, as play-calling head coach Josh McDaniels mostly rode banged-up running back Josh Jacobs.

    In the aftermath, while we in New England try to analyze the psyche and scrutinize the gesticulations of quarterback Mac Jones, fans who’ve followed the Raiders from Oakland to L.A. back to Oakland and on to Vegas are calling Carr’s future into question.

    Carr signed an extension before the season, but terms of his contract, which runs through 2025, aren’t prohibitive should McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler wish to part ways with him. So Sunday, while playoff contention is on the line for one quarterback, job retention with his current employer may well be what the other is playing for.

    Following is a six-pack of numbers and notes regarding Sunday’s encounter.

  • No lead is safe


    Van Jefferson’s game-winning catch completed the Rams rally from a 16-3 deficit vs. the Raiders. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

    • According to Stats Perform, the Raiders meltdown against the Rams marked the first time the team lost a game after leading by at least 13 points with less than 4 minutes remaining since Sept. 19, 1993. That’s when Bill Belichick’s Cleveland Browns overcame the same 16-3 deficit to with 19-16 at the Los Angeles Coliseum.


    • As the only team to lose after relinquishing four double-digit, halftime leads in the same season, the 2022 Raiders have doubled the number of such defeats the franchise endured in the past decade. Per Vic Tafur from The Athletic, the team was 20-2 when leading by 10 or more points at the half in the past 10 seasons.
  • The Derek Carr Six?


    Josh McDaniels is Derek Carr’s sixth head coach overall in nine NFL seasons. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

    • McDaniels marks the sixth head coach Carr has played under since being drafted by the Oakland Raiders with the 36th overall pick in 2014. The list includes four full-timers (Dennis Allen, Jack Del Rio, Jon Gruden and McDaniels) and two interim head coaches (Tony Sparano and Rich Bisaccia). Ziegler is his third G.M., following Reggie McKenzie and Mike Mayock. 


    • Comparing contrasts, the Patriots are 4-4 in games decided by 10 points or more, 3-2 in one-score games and 0-1 in overtime. Meanwhile, the Raiders have played two games with double-digit differences (1-1), are 3-7 in single-score outcomes and 2-1 in OT.  
  • Give and Take


    Luke Masterson picked off Mac Jones in the preseason finale, but the Raiders rank last in interceptions for the second straight regular season.  (Photo by Chris Unger)

    • Las Vegas has committed just 13 turnovers, tied with three other teams for second-fewest in the league. But the Raiders turnover-difference is minus-3. Their 10 takeaways are more than only New Orleans (9), including a league-low four interceptions. It’s the second straight year Vegas is last in interceptions, after picking off all of six in 2021.


    • The paucity of picks isn’t due to a lack of pressure. In the past six games, just two teams have more sacks than the 16 racked up by the Raiders. Pass-rushing stud Maxx Crosby, who leads the NFL with 19 tackles for loss, had two sacks the last time they met the Pats in 2020.


    Bob Socci is in his 10th season calling play-by-play for the Patriots Radio Network on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Bob and Scott Zolak will call Sunday’s Patriots-Raiders game at 1:05. Follow Bob on Twitter @BobSocci. 

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