Patriots-Raiders matchup of the day: Thursday

Posted Sept. 29, 2011 @ 2:27 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a key matchup to watch in the Week Four game between the Patriots and Raiders:

Raiders RB Darren McFadden vs. Patriots run defense

This pits strength against strength, as the Raiders are best when running the football with McFadden, and the Patriots' strength on defense lies with how they handle the running game.

McFadden is the league's leading rusher with 393 yards in three games, which includes 171 against the vaunted Jets run defense. McFadden is also a weapon as a receiver, with 11 catches (team high) for 84 yards. He not only has the speed to beat you off the edge, but he can go between the tackles.

The Patriots are 10th in the league against the run, although few teams have been running the ball against New England for two reasons. One, opponents have been playing catch-up, and two, the Pats' pass defense remains their Achilles' heel.

New England will want to force QB Jason Campbell to beat them, not McFadden, and that rests on the front seven. It also should help to get SS Patrick Chung back from injury for his run support. Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes will need to have big games, and the D-ends and outside linebackers will need to set the edge to keep McFadden from bouncing outside.