The Patriots and Raiders will be dealing with the same conditions when they get to Mexico City for their matchup this weekend. Both teams will have to cope with the temperature and the air quality. Both teams will have to deal with the altitude.
Yet when it comes to preparing for physical exertion at 7,400 feet, the two clubs couldn't have more differing approaches.
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While the Patriots are preparing to play at altitude by training at altitude -- they're staying in Colorado Springs and practicing at the Air Force Academy, which is about 7,300 feet above sea level -- the Raiders are simply practicing in the Bay Area and waiting as long as they can to get to Mexico City.
Their approaches to discussing the altitude differ as well. Bill Belichick won't concede that it's a factor -- "I don’t think it’s that big of a deal," he told Oakland reporters on Wednesday -- while Raiders coach Jack Del Rio openly admits it's an issue.
"I think it's real," Del Rio said on a conference call Wednesday. "There's certainly challenges with travel in general, certainly when you travel to a place where there's altitude involved. That's an added challenge. We're both facing that challenge. It'll be interesting, really, to look back and take some after-action review from the two expereinces that we have -- not that we're going to share with each other.
"[But] we have two contrasting approaches. We're going in as late as possible, and they're spending the week training at altitude in Colorado. Two contrasting approaches to it, and we'll see how it works out. We did this last year. We went the day before like we're doing this year. That seemed to work for us, and I know that there are several theories out there in terms of how best you handle the altitude. We just do the best we can to prepare our squad and then go compete."
The Raiders beat the Texans at Azteca Stadium last year, 27-20, and the thin air didn't seem to be much of an issue for them. Led by quarterback Derek Carr, they out-scored Houston 14-3 in the fourth quarter for the comeback victory.