Are the Raiders making a mistake with their Mexico City travel plans?
For the second straight year, the Oakland Raiders will be traveling to Mexico City for a “home game,” this time against the New England Patriots. Luckily for Oakland, Mexico City is officially a part of Raider Nation and you can expect the stands to be filled with more than enough Raiders fans to create a home field advantage as far as crowd noise is concerned.
But are the Raiders at a disadvantage for another reason?
While the Oakland is on a bye week, the Patriots will be playing the Denver Broncos in Denver Colorado. They have decided to take advantage of that fact and remain in Denver for a while before going straight to Mexico City for the game against Oakland. The perceived benefit of this is that the Patriots expect to be fully acclimated to the altitude in Mexico City having spent a week in the Mile High city before playing at Stadium Azteca, which is over a thousand feet higher above sea level than Denver.
Meanwhile, the Raiders are taking the exact opposite approach and spending as little time as possible at altitude. The plan for the Raiders is to leave Oakland on Saturday night, spend one night in Mexico City, play the game Sunday afternoon then return home.
It would appear that the Raiders believe spending as little time as possible at elevation is the best bet, but one has to wonder how smart that really is. With a bye week, the Raiders have plenty of time to get to Mexico City and do as the Patriots are in getting acclimated to the altitude.
Last season when the Raiders played the Texans in Mexico City, it appeared pretty obvious that the altitude was having an impact. Both teams looked lethargic and sloppy both early and late in the game. Afterwards, players discussed how playing at alititude did in fact make it more difficult.
At the end of the day, it’s an issue that both teams have to deal with but given the completely divergent techniques being used by the Patriots and Raiders, one has to wonder if one team or the other will have a slight advantage.