The Patriots came close, but once again disaster struck.
Raiders defensive linemen Maxx Crosby and Bilal Nichols sacked Patriots quarterback Mac Jones in the end zone to end the Patriots’ last shot at a victory late in the fourth quarter, and Las Vegas won, 21-17, on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium.
The Patriots had pulled within two on a touchdown run by Rhamondre Stevenson and needed just a field goal to win, then got the ball back with 2:31 left. But they went backward on the ensuing possession and faced third-and-15 when Jones backpedaled into the end zone and could not escape the onrushing Raiders.
The Patriots fell to 1-5.
“[We were] excited for a chance to win — excited to go down there and be in it at the end. Two penalties and a negative play cost us,” Patriots center David Andrews said.
After two consecutive blowout losses to the Cowboys and Saints, the Patriots kept things close throughout on Sunday, and Jones completed 24 of 33 passes for 201 yards. On the final possession, a deep pass by Jones hit receiver Devante Parker in the hands but Parker could not catch it.
Kendrick Bourne had 10 receptions for 91 yards for the Patriots.
Josh Jacobs carried 25 times for 77 yards to lead the Raiders (3-3), while tight end Michael Mayer had five receptions for 75 yards and Devante Adams had five catches for 61 yards. Daniel Carlson kicked four field goals for the Raiders.
The Patriots were again plagued by miscues and penalties. New England was flagged 10 times for 79 yards, and was outgained by Las Vegas, 348 yards to 260.
“We still have hope in ourselves,” Stevenson said.
Former Patriots backup quarterback Brian Hoyer replaced Raiders starter Jimmy Garoppolo in the second half after Garoppolo suffered what the raiders said was a back injury. Hoyer completed 6 of 10 passes for 102 yards.
The Patriots scored their first offensive touchdown since the second quarter of Week 3 when Ezekiel Elliott capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run on a direct snap. That snapped a 12-quarter touchdown drought (tied for the longest in team history) and pulled the Patriots within one score, 13-10.
The Raiders marched 62 yards on 19 plays and settled for a field goal to open the game. The drive took more than half of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Raiders took a 10-0 lead when former Patriot Jakobi Meyers caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Garoppolo to cap a nine-play, 59-yard drive.
The Patriots cut the lead to 10-3 on Chad Ryland’s 41-yard field goal, but the Raiders took a 13-3 lead into halftime with a field goal with 10 seconds left in the first half.
The Patriots face the Buffalo Bills next week at Gillette Stadium.
“We all have to do a better job. That’s all I know,” Andrews said. “Football is like life. There’s highs, there’s lows, there’s in-between, and when there’s lows, the only thing to do is fight your way out of it. You can’t lay down; you can’t quit. I don’t believe in that. I never believed in that. So one thing do is keep fighting, keep throwing punches, keep swinging. That’s the only thing I know to do.”
Below are updates, commentary, and analysis posted throughout the day.
Mac Jones: ‘I’m definitely frustrated’ — 8:39 p.m.
Patriots quarterback Mac Jones tries to stay optimistic, even in the face of losing.
After the Patriots lost 21-17 to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, he conceded that positivity can only take a team so far.
“I know I’m going to be positive always. That’s my goal,” Jones said. “[I’ll] try to work hard like I’ve been doing and bring people with me. And I know we’ve been saying that and the results haven’t been there. So I guess, maybe [we’ll] look at the process and see what we need to change to get better, because the results aren’t there.”
Instant Analysis: Will the Patriots win another game this season? — 7:47 p.m.
By Ben Volin
Patriots coach Bill Belichick quickly shook Josh McDaniels’s hand and trudged toward the locker room without acknowledging another soul. Belichick probably knew what the rest of us did — if the Patriots couldn’t win that game on Sunday, they may not win again the rest of this season.
It was all set up for the Patriots to get back in the win column. The Raiders are nearly as bad, ranked near the bottom of the league on offense and defense. They lost starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo at halftime with a back injury, and were forced to play the final 30 minutes with backup Brian Hoyer. And the Raiders handed the Patriots a couple of gifts — Robert Spillane dropped a sure interception in the fourth quarter, and Maxx Crosby gave the Patriots life with a personal foul penalty on third down.
No matter — the Patriots couldn’t take advantage of their good fortune. The offense still couldn’t move the ball, the defense let Hoyer throw for 102 yards in the second half, and Mac Jones still couldn’t overcome his mistakes as the Patriots dropped to 1-5.
A few comments from David Andrews — 7:36 p.m.
Patriots captain David Andrews was, as is customary, the first player to take the podium to speak with the media after the game.
On what happened on the final drive: “[We were] excited for a chance to win — excited to go down there and be in it at the end. Two penalties and a negative play cost us.”
On morale with the team: “We all have to do a better job. That’s all I know. Football is like life. There’s highs, there’s lows, there’s in-between, and when there’s lows, the only thing to do is fight your way out of it. You can’t lay down; you can’t quit. I don’t believe in that. I never believed in that. So one thing do is keep fighting, keep throwing punches, keep swinging. That’s the only thing I know to do.”
On Jones’s performance: “I thought he did a good job — appreciate his effort all day. We just got to do a better job at the end, collectively, as a unit.”
Disaster strikes — 7:04 p.m.
Raiders 21, Patriots 17 | 1:47 fourth quarter
Maxx Crosby sacked Mac Jones in the end zone to snuff the Patriots’ last chance.
The Patriots had their shot. Mac Jones uncorked a beautiful deep pass that went right through the hands of DeVante Parker. One delay-of-game penalty later and the Raiders get to Jones for a safety.
There’s a chance — 6:59 p.m.
New England has a comeback chance. The Raiders couldn’t effectively burn clock on their drive, and Mac Jones gets the ball from New England’s own 9-yard line, needing a field goal to win.
• Three Tyquan Thornton fly patterns coming up! – Finn
Patriots find the end zone — 6:52 p.m.
Raiders 19, Patriots 17 | 3:43 fourth quarter
Rhamondre Stevenson punched in a 1-yard touchdown after a long Patriots drive that chewed off 9:30 of clock. It’s now a two-point game with 3:33 left to play.
Unforced errors nearly doomed a promising possession. The Patriots got the ball down to the Raiders’ 3-yard line before a false start and an illegal shift set them back 10 yards. But the Raiders then got called for roughing the passer on third down, putting New England near the goal line and in position to score.
Mac Jones completed seven passes to Kendrick Bourne as part of the drive.
Stevenson returns — 6:35 p.m.
Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson is back on the field after initially being listed as questionable (head, ankle). His right ankle is taped.
A fourth field goal for Raiders — 6:28 p.m.
Raiders 19, Patriots 10 | 13:03 fourth quarter
Daniel Carlson’s fourth field goal, this one from 24 yards, gives the Raiders a two-score lead.
The Patriots defense continues to struggle between the 20s before holding up in the red zone, forcing the Raiders into yet another field goal after Josh Jacobs took six carries for 28 cards to lead Las Vegas inside the 10, but no further.
• Not a fan of Josh McDaniels’s play calling in the red zone – run up the middle for nothing on second down, and a corner fade on third down that almost never connects. Raiders could’ve put the game away with a TD but settle for a FG. – Volin
The saving grace in this game for the Patriots is that the Raiders are just 1-5 in the red zone. This is try No. 6.— Christopher Gasper (@cgasper) October 15, 2023
Third-quarter analysis — 6:22 p.m.
Three quarters are in the books, and the Patriots are down 16-10.
• The Patriots scored their first offensive touchdown since Week 3 when they put together a 10-play, 75-yard drive that included a lot of relatively simple offensive calls — inside draws and runs to Ezekiel Elliott (after Rhamondre Stevenson went down), as well as some designed bootleg-style rollouts from Mac Jones.
• They punched it over with some style, however, on a direct snap to Elliott that saw him deliver from two yards out. The play was set up initially when Malik Cunningham came in as the quarterback, but flexed out to wide receiver. A dash from the old Charlie Weis/Kevin Faulk playbook helps end a touchdown-free streak that lasted 39 offensive drives and 12 quarters.
• The Raiders lost Jimmy Garoppolo to what the team was calling a back injury, setting the stage for the ageless Brian Hoyer. Hoyer provided a nice boost off the bench for Las Vegas, as he connected on a deep ball with Tre Tucker to set up a 30-yard field goal from Daniel Carlson with 3:55 left in the quarter to make it 16-10.
Back to old habits — 6:17 p.m.
That Patriots drive went nowhere in a hurry. A busted play on first down was followed by a brilliant catch from Tyquan Thornton — but only for 6 yards — and Mac Jones rushed through his progressions on third down and it’s back to three-and-outs for New England.
Raiders add to lead — 6:11 p.m.
Raiders 16, Patriots 10 | 3:55 third quarter
Former Patriots keep haunting the current Patriots. With Raiders starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo ruled out, ex-New England backup Brian Hoyer took over and quickly found Tre Tucker for a 48-yard gain to put the Raiders on the edge of the red zone.
The Patriots defense held firm in the red zone again, however, forcing Las Vegas to settle for another Daniel Carlson field goal and keep the deficit at one score.
Injury update: Garoppolo out, Stevenson hurt — 5:59 p.m.
Raiders QB Jimmy Garoppolo has a back injury and was ruled out for the rest of the game after initially being designated as doubtful to return. Brian Hoyer is the next QB up for the Raiders.
• Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson is still in the blue medical tent after hitting his head hard on the turf at the end of his 15-yard run. The Patriots announced Stevenson is questionable to return with ankle and head injuries.
• Jonathan Jones is gingerly making his way off the field with the assistance of two Patriots staffers. He is trying to keep his right leg as straight as possible while walking. Jones, who did not play in Weeks 2-4 because of an ankle injury, immediately went inside the blue medical tent. With no Christian Gonzalez (torn labrum, injured reserve), losing Jones would be another major blow to the secondary. Jack Jones (hamstring) and Marcus Jones are also on injured reserve.
Hello there, end zone — 5:56 p.m.
Raiders 13, Patriots 10 | 8:56 third quarter
The Patriots have scored their first offensive touchdown since the second quarter of Week 3.
The Patriots pieced together their best drive since Week 2, snapping a 12-quarter touchdown drought (tied for the longest in team history) as Ezekiel Elliott capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run on a direct snap. Elliott was at the heart of that drive, with six carries for 28 yards.
While it wasn’t the prettiest drive of the season for the New England offense, that will go down as one of the most successful. The Patriots have scored their first touchdown since their Week 3 win over the Jets.
On the drive, the Patriots kept it super simple, with inside draws and bootleg rollouts from Mac Jones. (Maybe that’s what Bill Belichick was driving at when he wanted to start over?) The little flat at the end was reserved for Ezekiel Elliott, who took a direct snap on the goal line after Malik Cunningham came in under center and then lined up as a wide receiver.
Tale of the tape — 5:48 p.m.
Former Patriots receiver Jakobi Meyers through one half today for the Raiders: 5 catches, 51 yards, 1 TD
His replacement in New England JuJu Smith-Schuster through five games this season: 14 catches, 86 yards, 0 TDs
Keion White out of game with head injury — 5:40 p.m.
New England defensive end Keion White will miss the remainder of Sunday’s Patriots-Raiders game after suffering a head injury, the team announced.
White was taken to the locker room for further evaluations. He was ruled questionable before being downgraded to out. White’s injury appeared to happen on a play where he collided with Kyle Dugger on an attempted tackle.
Halftime analysis — 5:37 p.m.
By Chris Price
Two quarters are here in the books at Allegiant Stadium, and the Patriots trail the Raiders, 13-3.
Mac Jones: 8-for-14, 97 yards
Kendrick Bourne: 2 catches, 3 targets, 45 yards
Rhamondre Stevenson: 5 carries, 15 yards
Jimmy Garoppolo: 14-for-22, 162 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
• Despite the fact coach Bill Belichick talked about changes and starting over in the days after last Sunday’s loss to the Saints, there was little evidence of that in the first half against Las Vegas, at least on offense. Things were sluggish and ineffective early. The line struggled to protect Jones, and the Patriots couldn’t stay on the field with any real consistency.
New England had just four first downs. With the Patriots driving late in the first half, Jones threw an absolutely horrible interception, airmailing Hunter Henry and having the ball drop right into the hands of Raiders defensive back Tre’von Moehring — the easiest pick of his career. In a season of ugly turnovers, it was one of the ugliest.
• The offensive highlight for the Patriots came roughly halfway through the second quarter when Jones connected with Bourne through a thicket of defenders to convert on a 36-yard pass play over the middle. It was the longest play from scrimmage for New England over the first two quarters. I’ll say this about the offensive skill position players around Jones — there’s no quit in most of them, including Bourne. Whether it’s his own inadequacies or poor play up front, Jones is struggling to get them the ball.
• One flash of offensive positivity — a 74-yard touchdown reception from Ezekiel Elliott — was negated on a holding call against Hunter Henry that was so egregious that four flags were thrown on the play. Elliott couldn’t quite seem to believe it, as he stood in the end zone with his hands on his hips at the end of the play. (In all, the Patriots took five penalties in the first half.)
• The most damning offensive moment of the first two quarters likely came when former Patriot Jakobi Meyers caught a touchdown pass from former New England quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with 12:22 left in the second quarter. The play gave the Raiders a 10-0 lead. Meanwhile, at that point in the action, the Patriots had a grand total of no first downs and -2 total net yards of offense.
• Vegas had two other scoring drives, both of which ended in field goals (one from 25 yards and another from 37 yards.)
• The truth of the matter is that this is a Patriots team that continues to fight with one hand tied behind its back, as the defense is doing more than its share to keep things even. Jabrill Peppers absolutely de-cleated Davante Adams, leading to a Jahlani Tavai interception in the first quarter, and the rest of the group was quick to the ball. While the numbers aren’t pretty, there’s only so much the defense can be asked to do.
• Malik Cunningham and Tyquan Thornton got a couple of snaps in the first half.
• Chad Ryland — the biggest Phillies’ fan in the New England locker room — broke the Patriots’ scoreless streak with a 43-yard field goal with 8:38 left in the second quarter. That made it 13-3.
• The Patriots will get the ball to start the second half.
Raiders add 3 points — 5:28 p.m.
Raiders 13, Patriots 3 | :10 second quarter
The Patriots defense held the Raiders to a field goal to close out the half, but they made it easier on third and 20 from the 35-yard line when Jimmy Garoppolo had all the time in the world to find Jakobi Meyers for a 16-yard gain and make it a 37-yard gimme for Daniel Carlson to extend the Las Vegas lead to two scores.
• That’s pretty much a quintessential Jakobi Meyers play. Nothing spectacular, but reliable, and it was crucial in putting 3 points on the board for the Raiders.
• Jakobi Meyers in first half: 5 catches on 5 targets for 61 yards and a touchdown.
All good things must come to an end — 5:16 p.m.
Just when the Patriots were finding some momentum, driving into field goal range, it’s another awful moment from Mac Jones: the quarterback was flushed out of the pocket and had Hunter Henry wide open, but sailed the throw into the arms of Tre’von Moehrig for another terrible interception to stop the Patriots in their tracks.
• Just an egregious decision by Mac Jones, who threw the ball directly to Raiders safety Tre’von Moehrig. Jones and the Patriots were actually moving the ball well before his interception. On second and 5, from the Raiders’ 30-yard line, Jones has to just throw the ball away. – Yang
• “He is open, Hunter Henry, and this is just a horrendous throw ...” That’s about as blunt as Romo gets. – Finn
The Patriots actually scored — 5:02 p.m.
Raiders 10, Patriots 3 | 8:38 second quarter
That’s a bit more like it: The Patriots finally got a first down, but it could’ve been so much more as Ezekiel Elliott took a quick pass in the flat and broke away for a 74-yard touchdown before a holding call against Hunter Henry brought it back.
New England wasn’t finished with explosive plays, with Kendrick Bourne picking up 36 yards on a catch-and-run, but the drive finally stalled out when Mac Jones and DeVante Parker had a miscommunication on third and 5 from the Las Vegas 24.
Chad Ryland knocked it through from 41 yards, and the Patriots are on the board.
Something exciting happened. Then it was called back — 4:58 p.m.
The Patriots appeared to have a rare explosive play, when Ezekiel Elliott took the ball 74 yards to the end zone. But the score was nullified by a penalty — holding by Hunter Henry — bringing the Patriots back to their 41-yard line. The good news for the Patriots, though, is that the penalty was a spot foul, so they still converted the much-needed first down. – Yang
Of course Jakobi Meyers catches a TD pass — 4:52 p.m.
Raiders 10, Patriots 0 | 12:22 second quarter
It seemed written in the stars that Jakobi Meyers would come back to haunt the Patriots today, and it didn’t take long. The Raiders drove 59 yards on eight plays and Meyers was wide open in the back of the end zone, leaping to haul in a 12-yard strike from Jimmy Garoppolo for the first touchdown of the game early in the second quarter. (edited)
• Meyers got more separation on that play than JuJu Smith-Schuster has on every route he’s run combined this season. Still think Meyers is going to throw a TD pass today. McDaniels won’t be able to resist rubbing it in if he gets the chance. – Finn
• The Raiders are winning the time-of-possession battle by a wide margin, 13:59 to 2:54. – Yang
• When assistant coaches spoke to the media, a common question was: Does it wear on the players to constantly have to play from behind? The topic is once again relevant, with the Patriots trailing 10-0. – Yang
First quarter analysis — 4:44 p.m.
Not much scoring through one quarter here in Las Vegas, as the Patriots trail the Raiders 3-0.
• Sam Roberts was called for leverage on a field-goal attempt from Las Vegas, a weak call that kept a drive alive for the Raiders, one that ended with a 25-yard field goal that opened the scoring midway through the first quarter.
• Mac Jones and the Patriots offense remained ineffective through much of the first, with the longest play from scrimmage coming on a six-yard run from Rhamondre Stevenson. Jones was sacked by old friend Adam Butler on a third-down drop back, a play that led to a Bryce Baringer punt.
• Mac Jones, first quarter: zero completions, two attempts, one sack for minus-11.
• Jahlani Tavai had an interception of old friend Jimmy Garoppolo, who finished the quarter 7-for-12 for 95 yards and the one interception.
• Malik Cunningham, active for the first time all season, saw one snap in the first quarter.
• Jimmy Garoppolo found Michael Mayer again on third down, this time for a gain of 32 yards. In the first quarter alone, Mayer set career-highs in receptions (4) and receiving yards (67) .
Two Patriots possessions go nowhere — 4:41 p.m.
The three-and-out counter is at two, for those keeping score at home. A pair of Rhamondre Stevenson runs — one handed to him by Malik Cunningham — got New England to third and 7, and a Raiders twist up front had the Patriots line scrambling before Adam Butler wrapped up Mac Jones to force another punt.
• Former Patriot Adam Butler! (There are lots of those on the Raiders.) – Yang
• The NFL Films story of the 2023 Patriots season will be titled, “Stevenson for 2, Stevenson for 1, Jones sacked for minus-11. – Finn
Stevenson gets the call so far — 4:40 p.m.
• Rhamondre Stevenson is in at running back for two consecutive drives. The Patriots typically alternate drives with Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott, but giving Stevenson extended time could help him better establish a rhythm. Given how short New England’s possessions are, load management shouldn’t be an issue. We’ll see if he gets the nod on the third drive, again, because the offense went three and out again. – Yang
Patriots force a turnover — 4:35 p.m.
• With the Raiders in the red zone, New England’s defense finally forced a turnover — thanks to a big hit by Jabrill Peppers on Davante Adams. The Patriots entered Sunday’s gave ranked last in the league with just two takeaways. Given the offense’s limitations, the team definitely needs support from the other phases of the game. – Yang
• Jim Nantz had just mentioned that no player active today has an interception for the Patriots this season when Tavai picked off the deflection after Peppers’s jarring hit on Adams. – Finn
Another lackluster start for Patriots — 4:30 p.m.
At least the Patriots didn’t turn it over for a score on the opening drive, but it’s as ugly an opening three-and-out as Bill Belichick could have pictured. Vederian Lowe false started on the first play, Trent Brown was ineligible downfield on the second, Rhamondre Stevenson bobbled an easy catch in the flat that could have been picked off, and a draw play on third and 15 wasn’t anywhere near a first down. New England picking up right where it left on offense.
• Make that four penalties. Jahlani Tavai was just called for unnecessary roughness. – Yang
• More Patriots (2) penalties than net yards (1) on the first possession. Good start. – Finn
• Well, they didn’t turn the ball over. The fact that a three-and-out drive is even remotely considered an acceptable outcome speaks to just how ineffective the offense has been. Three plays for six yards does not bode well. – Yang
• Right tackle Vederian Lowe false started on New England’s first play of the game. Exactly what the offense doesn’t need. Lowe, acquired in August, has struggled in his starts, but the Patriots don’t have any alternatives. Calvin Anderson hasn’t fared much better, while Riley Reiff is inactive with a knee injury. – Yang
Raiders on the board first — 4:21 p.m.
Raiders 3, Patriots 0 | 6:54 1st quarter
It’s not a great start from the Patriots defense between the 20s, as the Raiders had no trouble driving into field goal range, but New England seemed to catch a break after a Las Vegas first down in the red zone was negated by a holding call and DeAndre Carter’s brutal drop on third down meant the Raiders had to settle for a field goal.
But the amateur mistakes continued when Sam Roberts was flagged for leverage on the field goal attempt, giving Las Vegas a first down and another shot at the end zone. The defense held up again, swarming Jimmy Garoppolo on third down to force a 25-yard field goal that counted this time around. – Touri
• One of New England’s goals this week is to avoid falling behind early, so holding the Raiders to a field goal is a step in the right direction. It is hugely important for the offense to not turn the ball over on the ensuing drive. – Yang
Game on — 4:05 p.m.
The Patriots won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. The Raiders will receive the opening kickoff to start the game.
• New England’s defense appeared to bend and not break, forcing the Raiders to settle for a 40-yard field goal. Daniel Carlson made the try, but defensive tackle Sam Roberts gifted Las Vegas a first down thanks to a leverage penalty. – Yang
• Jimmy Garoppolo’s favorite target on the Raiders’ opening drive was rookie tight end Michael Mayer. Las Vegas converted two third downs on receptions by Mayer, who entered Sunday’s game with just three catches on the season. – Yang
Nicole Yang’s players to watch and prediction — 3:45 p.m.
Patriots player to watch: Mac Jones. It might be a cop out to put the quarterback, but Jones is coming off two of the worst showings of his career. His job — and future as an NFL starter — is on the line. Through Jones’s struggles, his teammates have done their best to express confidence in his ability to bounce back. But their frustration with his turnovers is also starting to bubble, so another poor performance would likely threaten their future support.
Raiders player to watch: Jakobi Meyers, specifically against the production of Patriots receivers. Meyers is off to be a better start than any of New England’s skill position players, spotlighting coach Bill Belichick’s decision to let him walk this offseason. It would not be surprising if he’s playing with some extra motivation to prove his former team wrong.
Prediction: Raiders 17, Patriots 10. Until they show otherwise, the Patriots do not deserve to be picked to win.
Pregame observations: Reading between the lines — 3:30 p.m.
From Chris Price: This could mean something. It could mean nothing. But when the QBs came on the field – Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe – Malik Cunningham was already on the field taking returner reps. He quickly ran over to join them.
Cunningham is also wearing gloves while warming with the other QBs. I know there are QBs who wear them. Just looks interesting.
Now, the quarterbacks are throwing to pass catchers during warmups, but it’s only Jones and Zappe throwing.
Now, Cunningham is stretching with the wide receivers. Again, not sure what it all means. Just food for though for later this afternoon.
Cunningham didn’t take a single rep at quarterback during warmups. I’m not sure if the Patriots are trying to be coy, but it was all Jones and Zappe throwing in that session.
• Patriots offensive line, right to left, in warmups: Lowe, Sow, Andrews, Mafi, Brown.
• JC Jackson and Jonathan Jones warming up as the Patriots’ lead CBs.
Chris Price’s players to watch and prediction — 3:15 p.m.
Patriots player to watch: Malik Cunningham. He was elevated to the active roster Friday, which means it’s a safe bet that he’ll see some sort of action against Las Vegas. Will he be as a changeup presence at quarterback? Wide receiver? Special teams? We shall see.
Raiders player to watch: Jimmy Garoppolo. Bill Belichick knows his tendencies better than any other active quarterback on an opposing roster. I’m guessing the Patriots’ coach knows what it takes to slow him down.
Prediction: From this viewpoint, New England has lost the benefit of the doubt, even when it comes to facing a team like the Raiders. I’m taking Las Vegas, 17-13.
Chad Finn’s players to watch and prediction — 2:59 p.m.
Patriots player to watch: Malik Cunningham. Here’s hoping the Patriots have at least a couple of plays in the gameplan for the multi-skilled former Louisville star. I just want to see something interesting, people.
Raiders player to watch: Jakobi Meyers. I have a strong suspicion that Raiders coach Josh McDaniels will have some trickeration in the playbook to allow Meyers to show off his passing skills and rub the Patriots’ decision not to keep him in Bill Belichick’s face.
Prediction: I went 17-13 Raiders in my preview, and I’m sticking with it for consistency’s sake. But I do feel a little better about the Patriots chances than I did at the end of the week. Or after the Saints debacle, for that matter.
Inactives analysis: Patriots have some faith in Cunningham — 2:45 p.m.
The Patriots just announced their inactives. Here’s a look at who won’t play today, and what it means:
The biggest news? New England has some faith in rookie Malik Cunningham. The Patriots have made Bailey Zappe the emergency quarterback, and have made Will Grier inactive. Cunningham has gone from No. 4 on the depth chart to No. 2 this afternoon. We’ll see if he sees any action today, but it’s certainly an interesting development.
Wide receivers Demario Douglas and JuJu Smith-Schuster are both down with concussions, which will mean more opportunities for Jalen Reagor, who was elevated from the practice squad this week. Cunningham, who has practiced as a wide receiver in the New England offense, could also possibly contribute here as well. It also opens the door for second-year receiver Tyquan Thornton, who came off injured reserve this week, to make his season debut.
Offensive lineman Riley Reiff (knee) won’t be able to go, which could mean a number of things for other multiple linemen. Reiff has lined up at tackle and guard in the past, but has been seen more as a guard lately. His absence, as well as the fact that left guard Cole Strange (knee) is also out, means Atonio Mafi will likely be leaned on heavily this afternoon.
Mike Onwenu, who was limited all week with an ankle issue, has the sort of background which means he could step in at either guard or tackle if the Patriots decide to shuffle some of the other options up front.
Defensive back Cody Davis (knee) is a special teamer who was limited all week. And rookie receiver Kayshon Boutte is a healthy scratch again — he hasn’t played since Week One against the Eagles.
Some of the more notable actives include Thornton, who will make his first appearance of the season after starting the year on IR. Josh Uche (knee) was working out with members of the training staff on the field for an extended stretch, but it turns out he’ll give it a go this afternoon against the Raiders.
Inactives: Malik Cunningham is backup QB Sunday— 2:30 p.m.
The inactives lists for both teams have been released, and rookie Malik Cunningham will be the backup to starting Patriots quarterback Mac Jones on Sunday because the other two quarterbacks on the roster – Will Grier and Bailey Zappe – were both listed as inactive. Zappe is eligible to play as the emergency third quarterback.
Patriots: QB Will Grier, QB Bailey Zappe (third QB), WR Demario Douglas, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, OL Riley Reiff, OL Cole Strange, WR Kayson Boutte.
Raiders: QB Aidan O’Connell, S Chris Smith II, CB Nate Hobbs, LB Amari Burney, T Justin Herron, WR Kristian Wilkerson, DT Netsa Jade Silvera.
Pregame scenes — 2:10 p.m.
Let us take you inside Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
Three Raiders playmakers to watch — 2:00 p.m.
WR Davante Adams: One of the best wide receivers in the league, Adams hit the ground running in Las Vegas last year with his third consecutive first-team All-Pro nod and sixth straight Pro Bowl. Adams led the NFL with 14 touchdown catches last season and has 442 yards and three touchdowns through five games this season.
WR Jakobi Meyers: Another familiar face taking on his old employers Sunday, Meyers swapped New England for Las Vegas on a three-year, $33 million deal in the offseason, though he has indicated that he was interested in staying. The Patriots let their leading receiver walk, and Meyers has been much more successful in his new home than his replacement, JuJu Smith-Schuster, has been in New England. Meyers has 25 catches for 274 yards and three scores this season as a strong complement to Adams in the Raiders’ passing game.
DE Maxx Crosby: A beleaguered Patriots offensive line won’t get much rest Sunday against a star rusher in Crosby, whose career-high 12.5 sacks last season placed him in the top 10 league-wide and earned him second consecutive Pro Bowl selection. Crosby has five sacks this season, having wrapped up opposing quarterbacks in four of the Raiders’ five games.
Ben Volin’s players to watch and prediction — 1:45 p.m.
Patriots player to watch: Right tackle Vederian Lowe. The Patriots’ offensive line has been one of the worst in the NFL this season, and Lowe in particular has struggled on the right side. He’ll face one of the NFL’s most relentless defensive ends on Sunday in the Raiders’ Maxx Crosby, who has five sacks this years. If Lowe and right guard Mike Onwenu can’t slow down Crosby, the Patriots’ offense will be in for another long day.
Raiders player to watch: Tight end Michael Mayer. The Patriots figure to pay heavy attention to receivers Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers and make one of the Raiders’ other receivers step up and make plays. Mayer, a rookie second-round pick out of Notre Dame, had a slow start to the season but had two catches for 39 yards last week and has good catch-and-run ability.
Prediction: Raiders, 20-16. The Raiders’ offense has been stuck in neutral all season and their defense is nothing special. But I can’t pick the Patriots to win until they prove that they aren’t the most dysfunctional offense in the NFL.
Remember Jimmy G? — 1:30 p.m.
Former Patriots quarterback quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has linked up with former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in Las Vegas, and results have been mixed. Garoppolo is 2-2 as a starter for the Raiders — he missed the Week 4 loss to the Chargers with a concussion — and his performances have been up and down.
He was a respectable 20 for 26 for 200 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception as the Raiders scraped past the Broncos in the opener, then struggled in a blowout loss to the Bills in Week 2. Then came a particularly chaotic performance in a loss to the Steelers, where Garoppolo completed 28 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns, but threw three interceptions in the process, two of which led to Steelers scores and the other sealing the loss in the final minute.
Garoppolo’s 82.6 passer rating leaves him 24th among the 33 quarterbacks who qualify.
Patriots injuries to watch — 1:15 p.m.
You could be forgiven for mixing up the Patriots’ injury report for just a standard roster, with 17 players listed ahead of Sunday. There are a few certainties: Edge rusher Matt Judon (biceps); defensive back Cody Davis (knee); offensive linemen Riley Reiff, Cole Strange, and Tyrone Wheatley Jr. (knee); and wide receivers Demario Douglas and JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion) have already been ruled out for Sunday.
The list of questionables is even longer. That includes defensive linemen Christian Barmore (knee) and Davon Godchaux (ankle); linebacker Trey Flowers (foot); offensive linemen Trent Brown (chest) and Michael Onwenu (ankle); defensive backs Jonathan Jones (ankle), Kyle Dugger (foot), and Shaun Wade (shoulder); and receiver Tyquan Thornton (shoulder).
Other than that (and linebacker Josh Uche, whose status is “unspecified” with a knee issue), the Patriots appear healthy for Week 6.
Weather report — 1:00 p.m.
It’s a typically scorching day in Las Vegas with temperatures expected to approach 90 degrees, but weather shouldn’t have any effect on the game under the dome at Allegiant Stadium.
Betting odds: Patriots are underdogs — 12:50 p.m.
The oddsmakers aren’t quite as low on the Patriots as the fans may be, with New England heading to Las Vegas as just 3-point underdogs on Sunday and the moneyline settling around +130; most books have the total set at over/under 41.5.
It’s the fourth time in six games that the Patriots are betting underdogs. They’re 1-4 against the spread (and straight up) having only covered the spread in the Week 3 win over the Jets.
What do you think will happen? Vote in Chris Price’s social media poll:
Three keys to a Patriots victory — 12:40 p.m.
In the video below, Globe Patriots reporter Nicole Yang shares her thoughts on what the Patriots are up against Sunday in Las Vegas.
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