For the third time in the past four seasons, and the second season in a row, the Raiders will be playing a ‘home’ game in another country. When the league sends teams out of the country, they usually do what they can to make that trip easier for them. This season they did that for both the Patriots and Raiders who head to Mexico City in two weeks.
What’s interesting is three seasons ago, when the Raiders played in London, the league scheduled their trip to New England the week before heading to Old England. That allowed the Raiders to take one leg of the journey across the US and have a shorter trip London where they stayed for a week to acclimate to the time change.
It’s much the same as the Raiders have done the past two seasons when they stayed ten days on the East Coast, practicing at a facility in Sarasota Florida. Last season it was between their game in Jacksonville and in Tampa, this season it was between their game in Buffalo and Miami.
The Patriots are about to embark on a similar trip, heading to Denver, staying a week there, and continuing on to Mexico City. And the players are even saying similar things as Raiders players did about how these little trips being great for team bonding.
Much like the Raiders’ plan to acclimate to the East Coast time change, and not bounce back and forth across the country, the Patriots’ reason for staying in Denver is more about practicality.
Mexico City is at a high elevation of 7382 feet. Denver has an elevation of 5280 feet. The Patriots’ will stay the week in Denver, holding their practices at the Air Force Academy in order to acclimate to the thin air before heading to Mexico City. Pretty solid plan, honestly.
Meanwhile the Raiders will do what they did last year. They’ll show up the night before, just as they would any other game. Just like they would if they were playing in Denver.
What irks Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio isn’t how the either team spends the week before the game. It’s that his team is playing yet another home game someplace far from home.
“It’s not thrilling for me to lose a home game, you know? That’s what it is,” Del Rio said Monday. “We’re losing a home game. But that’s what it is. I think I’ve already spent enough time talking about the number of the true road games that we’re going to play. It’s a competitive disadvantage in my opinion – one that we’ve faced the last couple years and will face the next few years. But that’s a league rule, that’s out of my domain. I don’t have any control over that.”
As a side note, something interesting in what Del Rio said is this is something the Raiders “will face the next few years.” It suggests he might know the league, with Mark Davis’s approval, plans to send a Raiders home game out of the country each season they continue to play at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum.
Anyway, despite Del Rio’s contention with losing a game in Oakland again this season, the Raiders aren’t completely getting the shaft. They have a bye week to prepare for the game. Their experience playing there last year could also help prepare them for what to expect. And, of course, the crowd will be a home game atmosphere, because, as everyone knows, Mexico is Raiders country.
It still sucks for the fans in Oakland not to get to see their team in person, especially in a game that will be as crucial as this one against a 6-2 Patriots team.
I’m sure both sides will say the other had the advantage in game prep. In the end the game will be decided by the talent on the field.