Dec 15, 2022, 1:45:34 AMyebscore

Air of familiarity underscores Raiders-Patriots matchup

When the Raiders' schedule was released in May, there's a good chance head coach Josh McDaniels glanced at it and immediately circled his team's Week 15 matchup. That's because Las Vegas is set to host a team that McDaniels knows well, as the New England Patriots prepare to pay a visit to Sin City, wrapping up a brief two-game road trip out West. McDaniels had two stints with the Patriots, beginning his career in Foxborough, Mass., as a personnel assistant back in 2001. He then served as a defensive assistant, quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator before leaving following the 2008 season to take a head coaching job with the Broncos. After two seasons in Denver, McDaniels spent a season with the Rams, but eventually made his way back to New England in time for the 2012 campaign. Serving as offensive coordinator (and quarterbacks coach from 2012-19 and 2021), he stayed on staff up until this past January, when he took the job with the Raiders. In all, McDaniels has six rings to show for his time with the Patriots. But come Sunday, it's all business. "To me, I think it's the next game on the schedule," McDaniels said. "Look, it is what it is. I used to work there, and we have a couple players that used to be there and a couple coaches, but I mean, this is an important game for the Raiders, whether we were playing the Patriots or any other team. "I don't really put any stock into the different things." Las Vegas (5-8) seemed to be finding its stride but saw a three-game winning streak halted last Thursday with a 17-16 loss to the Rams. The Patriots (7-6) also experienced the end of a streak -- a two-game losing skid -- thanks to a 27-13 win over Arizona on Monday. With the win, New England vaulted over the Jets for the final playoff spot in the AFC. Now just one game behind Miami, the Patriots can climb the postseason ladder with a win on Sunday. New England paid a price for the victory, however. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson left the game with an ankle injury and receiver DeVante Parker was forced to leave because of a concussion. Neither Stevenson nor Parker practiced Wednesday. Despite potentially being without some of their top offensive pieces, coach Bill Belichick said the Patriots are ready for Las Vegas, thanks in part to their preseason meeting back on Aug. 26. "There's certainly game plan things that'll come up along the way, but, yeah, we're pretty familiar with them," Belichick said. "We knew that at that time that this was gonna be a short week and to try to take a little bit extra preparation time. "I'm sure (the Raiders) did the same thing." In addition to Stevenson and Parker, cornerback Jack Jones (knee) and tackle Isaiah Wynn (foot) also missed Wednesday's practice. Running back Damien Harris (thigh), receiver Jakobi Meyers (concussion) and defensive tackle Christian Barmore (knee) were limited. Raiders linebacker Divine Deablo (forearm) missed practice on Wednesday. Receiver Hunter Renfrow (oblique) and tight end Darren Waller (hamstring) were at practice, but McDaniels is evaluating both to determine if they should be activated from injured reserve. --Field Level Media