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Raiders spending this week getting jump on preparing for Patriots, see no benefit to acclimating to Mexico City elevation

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Could the Patriots’ plan to stay in Denver for a week actually hurt them?

Oakland Raiders v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Though it sometimes may not seem like it, there is something to be gained by having an extra week to prepare for an opponent should that opponent not have the same prep time.

With the Raiders’ heading to Mexico City in two weeks, their bye week is this week, which gives them extra time to prepare for an always tough Patriots team.

“Good solid couple of days work,” Head coach Jack Del Rio said Thursday. “We’ve got a big challenge, starting out with the Patriots, we’ll get into them (with the media) next week, but obviously getting a jump ahead on them a little bit and want to come out of this thing ready to have a great second half.”

That one week jump in preparation is the one major thing the Raiders have potentially working in their favor for this game. It allows them this week to formulate a plan of attack, the weekend to absorb it, and next week to put it on the practice field to perfect it.

As we discussed Wednesday, what the Patriots are doing to try and gain an advantage is to spend ten days in the high elevation in the Denver area. They fly into Denver tomorrow, and will practice at the Air Force Academy over the week before heading to Mexico City, which is also at a high elevation.

While it is a good plan in theory, it’s debatable how much it will help the Patriots. Del Rio doesn’t believe it will, which is why the team won’t be arriving in Mexico City until Saturday night.

“You either have time to acclimate or it’s best to go in there as late as possible,” said Del Rio. “We’re not going to be there for two weeks, so our thought is to treat it a lot like we do the Denver game and go in the night before.”

Olympic athletes prepare at high elevations because it helps for them to work out in the thin air. The question with regard to the Patriots is is ten days enough time for it to make a difference compared to the Raiders plan to arrive the night before? It may not.

In fact, the amount of time the Patriots stay in Denver may actually hurt their stamina come game time, according to LivingStrong.com

If you live at sea level and have a race at high altitude, you should train at high altitude for at least two weeks, though preferably three to six weeks, before your competition. Dehydration and acute altitude sickness symptoms are more likely to occur within the first one to two weeks of altitude exposure, and will likely worsen race performance. However, since these symptoms often take 24 to 48 hours to develop, you may also wish to race within 24 hours of your arrival at altitude. Although you will not acclimate to the altitude during this short time frame, you likely will avoid the physical symptoms of altitude exposure.

It suggests that if you can’t train at the high altitude for at least two weeks — as Del Rio noted — your best bet is to perform within 24 hours of arrival — as the Raiders will be doing. Anything in between — which is what the Patriots are looking at — puts you in risk of dehydration and altitude sickness.

So, it would seem the ‘arrive late, don’t acclimate’ mantra is more than just a clever rhyme. The Raiders’ players bodies will have the full benefit of the oxygen rich lower elevation at their Alameda training facility which is pretty much right at sea level.

While Jack Del Rio is rightfully not happy about losing another home game internationally, that would seem to be the only major ‘competitive disadvantage’ the Raiders will have. I mean, outside of the Patriots superior offense and coaching.