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Setting the scene: Patriots-Raiders

10.02.11 at 1:09 pm ET
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The Patriots travel across the across the country today for a game against the Raiders and have their hands full against Run DMC and the Raiders offense.

But the fascinating question today is whether the Raiders decide to try and take advantage of the Patriots secondary, which will be without Leigh Bodden and Ras-I Dowling, or whether they go with the NFL’s leading rusher in Darren McFadden to wear down the Patriots defensive line, again without Albert Haynesworth – who didn’t make the trip with a bad back.

Bodden is out with a groin injury while Dowling is on the sidelines with a hip injury. The Patriots have also ruled out tight end Aaron Hernandez with a knee injury while Mike Wright is out with a concussion.

While the Patriots have allowed more yards than any defense in the NFL (468.7), they have been strong against the run, ranked 10th in the NFL, allowing just 91.7 yards per carry and three TDs on the ground.

The Raiders will also be up against it facing Tom Brady as they will be without cornerback Chris Johnson, out with a hamstring injury.

Add to that free safety Michael Huff, who is questionable with a concussion, suffered last week against the Jets, and we could be watching yet another AFL-style shootout at O.co Coliseum.

The Raiders will have to turn to the likes of Joe Porter and Chimdi Chekwa, who took turns replacing Johnson last week until defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan opted to stay with Chekwa, a rookie fourth-round draft pick this year.

DeMarcus Van Dyke could also fill in for help behind Johnson while Matt Giordano fills in at free safety if Huff is sidelined. to their bench for help in trying to slow down the NFL’€™s top-ranked offense led by the AFC’€™s best quarterback in Brady.

‘€œNext man up,’€ Raiders coach Hue Jackson said. ‘€œCan’€™t worry about it. (If) he’€™s out, he’€™s out. Next man up.’€

Unlike 2008 when Matt Cassel and the Patriots went out to the Coliseum and beat the Raiders on a muddy field, 49-26, this game figures to be played in mostly sunny conditions on a brand new turf, as the field has been completely re-sodded for today’s game after the A’s baseball season ended on Wednesday night.

Temperatures are expected in the mid-70s for today’s game as the 2-1 Raiders host the 2-1 Patriots.

The Patriots and Raiders have split the previous 29 meetings, with each team winning 14 times and the two teams battling to a 43-43 tie on Oct. 16, 1964 in an old-style AFL shootout at Fenway Park.

Hard to believe but this is just Tom Brady’s second game in the Bay Area as a member of the Patriots. He was the quarterback in 2002 when the Patriots last lost to the Raiders, 27-20, on Sunday night football. He was out for the 2008 season when Cassel led the Patriots to a shootout win at Oakland.

Read More: Darren McFadden, Jason Campbell, Leigh Bodden, New England Patriots
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