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The Raiders packed heavy for Friday afternoon’s flight out of Oakland. They took four buses and a semi-truck sized moving van to be precise, as they prepare to take their show on the road.
This is a two-game road trip, with a stop in New England for the Patriots’ home opener before heading across the Atlantic for a game against Miami in London. The Raiders won’t be home for 11 days, with a pivotal period before they get back.
The Raiders are halfway through a brutal quadrant of season with just one home game and the rest on the East Coast or beyond. We all know hasn’t started well. The Raiders are 0-2 after disappointing losses to the New York Jets and Houston Texans. It only gets harder from here.
“Before you become successful, before you can truly find out who you are as a team, you have to go through some adversity,” running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. “We’re doing that know, but our guys are doing a great job of staying positive through all this. We understood these first four weeks were going to be tough. We fell, but we’re confident that we can come out, compete, and emerge victorious.”
There’s a media circus awaiting them in London – in addition to a beatable team – but the Raiders have found it easy to focus on the Patriots.
“Well that’s standard to have that concern,” head coach Dennis Allen said. “Like I said before, I did this trip back in 2008, and so we’ve tried to handle everything that we could handle ahead of schedule so that this week we could really focus in on New England. I think our guys have done a nice job of focusing in on the task at hand, the game at hand, and that’s been our real focus this week.”
Opponent difficulty and the Raiders’ state of affairs play into that. The Raiders are 14.5-point underdogs heading into New England's home opener. Despite heavy sledding a long road ahead, the team’s veteran leadership won’t let distractions steal focus from football.
“There’s a little more going on than we’re used to, but it hasn’t been a distraction,” running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. “We know we have to take care of the first game first. We’re all professionals. We can handle anything you throw at us.”