I guess the Jets are now a de facto AFC West team. It seems that way, as the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders are getting ready to battle again for the tenth time since 1999. Eight of those meeting have taken place in Oakland. Out of those ten meetings, the Raiders have the edge: winning six.
History means next to nothing when assessing current matchups in the NFL as team turnover often finds teams vastly different from year to year. One has to look no further than the Jets to see this is the case.
Last year when the Raiders prepared for the Jets, they were getting ready to face arguably the most decorated quarterback of all time and now they may be facing the least decorated quarterback in the game. Last year, the Jets were run by a veteran coach, who was coaching for his job, while this year a defensive minded rookie head coach is at the helm.
The Raiders won last year’s battle 16-13, in overtime, when Sebastian Janikowski booted a 58-yard field goal. It was a game the Raiders led most of the way until Farve displayed some of his fourth quarter magic and even the score.
JaMarcus Russell had some magic of his own on this day and led a game winning drive, which featured two nice throws to Javon Walker and Zach Miller. Russell finished the game 17-for-30 for 201 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions. The Raiders won the turnover battle three to zero.
Enough of these fond memories—it is time to move on.
The Jets are reeling right now. They come into this game, losers of three in a row, and are depleted by injuries.
The Raiders are coming into this game off a defensively fueled win that likely staved off a full fan mutiny at this week’s game. It was a win so promising it moved Richard Seymour to guarantee the Raiders would make the playoffs.
All world nose tackle Kris Jenkins was lost for the season after sustaining a knee injury last week. Leading Jets receiver, Jerricho Cotchery, will miss his second straight game with a hamstring issue, while fellow receiver Brad Smith and cornerback Lito Sheppard will miss the game due to quadriceps issues.
Defensive end Shaun Ellis is has been limited in practice and is listed as questionable. Cornerback Donald Strickland is listed as questionable after missing four weeks with and ankle injury, but head coach Rex Ryan expects him to play.
The Raiders are not without injury concerns of their own. On the offensive line, Robert Gallery and Cornell Green are both out, as well as linebacker Rickey Brown and running back Darren McFadden.
Cooper Carlisle is expected to make his return to Guard and this week will be the long awaited, much anticipated ’09 debut of wide receiver Chaz Schillens.
This is an important game for both teams. The Raiders need to prove that this season is not a lost cause and that last week was not a fluke. The Jets cannot suffer a fourth straight loss in a game they are favored to win.
Raiders Offense vs. Jets Defense
The Raiders offense is struggling to score points. At 10.3 points per game the Raiders offense is ranked 31st in the league. It will not be an easy task to improve the scoring numbers this week, as the Jets defense is not surrendering many points. Ranked sixth in the league the Jets are giving up 17.3 points per game.
The Jets defensive strength is its secondary. Led by cornerback Darnelle Revis and safety Kerry Rhodes, the Jets have faced some of the best receivers in the league and held them in check. The only receivers that have had success against the Jets have not been the first of second option and were out of spread formations.
Patriots' rookie Julian Edleman who recorded eight catches for 98 yards turned in the best performance by a receiver against the Jets. For anyone keeping track, Edleman was drafted 225 spots after Darius Heyward-Bey. Overall the Jets are surrendering 9.8 catches and 96.5 yards to wide receivers per game.
The Raiders receivers have not had success against anyone and while they are bolstered by the return of Schillens, this looks to be a tough team to return against.
Tight ends have had decent success against the Jets this year. The Jets have surrendered either four or five reception to tight ends in every game this year while averaging 9.4 yards per catch. Last year, Zach Miller had four catches for 57 yards against the Jets.
The Jets impressive pass defense numbers have been accumulated largely without the aid of a pass rush. They are ranked 31st in sacks with only five on the year. The Raiders have surrendered 17 sacks on the season.
The Jets come into this game ranked 21st in rush defense and they are now missing the anchor of their defensive line, Jenkins. They are giving up four yards per rush, while the Raiders are averaging 3.3 yards per rush.
Jets Offense vs. Raiders Defense
The Jets offense is only a juggernaut when compared to the Raiders. The Jets find themselves ranked 22nd in the league with a 19 points per game average. The Raiders defense is surrendering 23.2 points per game, which ranks them 22nd.
Mark Sanchez is having all the problems one would expect of a rookie quarterback. He is coming off a game where he threw five interceptions, some of which bounced of wide receiver Braylon Edwards’s hands.
After the game Sanchez admitted he might have been forcing the ball to Edwards. He clearly missed having his main target, Cotchery, on the field.
Sanchez is only hitting 51.8 percent of his passes for 155.7 yards per game- both of which rank the Jets 30th in the league. The Raiders are surrendering a 58.7 completion percentage at 220.2 yards per game which ranks them 10th and 17th respectively.
The Jets are a rushing team. They are ranked 31st at 27.3 pass attempts per game and third in the league at 33.5 rush attempts per game. Teams have predominantly featured the run against the Raiders. They are giving up 145.3 yards per game on the ground on 33.7 attempts. These numbers rank them 28th and 29th respectively.
The Jets have been winning the time of possession and the Raiders have not. The Jets are ranked 11th and the Raiders 31st.
The Jets are a run first offense and this will only be accentuated this week as the Raiders weakness is: stopping the run. It is unrealistic for the Raiders, or anyone, to stop the Jets run game. They don’t need to stop it, however, they just need to slow it down and force the Jets into some passing situations.
With the Jets loss of Kris Jenkins, the Raiders will try and establish the run and pound it with Justin Fargas between the tackles. Look for both teams to try and establish the run to set up the play action pass game.
As was mentioned, the Jets strength is their secondary which has taken away teams wide receivers. As the Raiders have shown, teams do not need to have even a decent secondary, to take away their receivers. The Raiders are used to functioning without much an addition by their wide receivers. I do expect Schillens to break free for at least two third down receptions and give a boost to the entire offense.
This could be the key to the game. Russell now has his go to guy on in obvious passing situations and Sanchez will be without his.
While the Raiders found a huge amount of success blitzing last week- this is not the week to continue that. They need to focus on stopping the run. When they do force the Jets into passing situations they should rely on defensive lineman to generate pressure and leave defenders back, waiting for the interception prone Sanchez to let it fly.
The Jets’ defensive line has not produced pressure on the quarterback and will likely send a number of defensive blitz packages. While the Raiders’ offensive line has struggled, we saw last week that the combination of Fargas and Gary Russell is extremely adept at picking up the blitz.
The Raiders will come close to matching the Jets rushing game and make a few more key plays in the passing game. This will allow them to edge the Jets in a close, low scoring affair.
Raiders 17 Jets 13
Let your predictions fly…