About the Author
Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain
Here's a key matchup to watch in the Week Three game between the Patriots and Raiders:
Patriots CBs Devin McCourty and Leigh Bodden vs. Raiders WR Denarius Moore
The Patriots' pass defense doesn't look any better than it did last season. Part of that goes to the fact that opponents are throwing more against New England because of early deficits. But without a consistent pass rush and with inexperienced safeties, teams are finding success through the air against the Pats.
Raiders rookie WR Denarius Moore has come on strong in the past two games. He had a rushing TD against the Jets on a reverse and torched the Bills' secondary for 146 yards in Week Two. Raiders QB Jason Campbell doesn't have many weapons at wideout because of injuries, and he has been targeting Moore often in the past two weeks.
McCourty and Bodden each got beaten on long sideline throws by Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in the team's Week Three loss. Bodden missed all of last season with an injury and McCourty has had some struggles after a strong rookie campaign.
One factor might be the absence of Brandon Meriweather, the team's free safety the past few seasons who brought help over the top. The replacements at free safety, Sergio Brown and Josh Barrett, have upside, but might put more pressure on the corners without the playmaking abilities that Meriweather, who was cut and subsequently signed with Chicago, possesses.
Bill Belichick has made it no secret that the Patriots know the Raiders are a big-play team, and Oakland will look to find Moore downfield, something that might be open if the Patriots are focused on trying to stop RB Darren McFadden. McCourty and Bodden will need to keep Moore in front of them to avoid giving up big plays.