Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
While the Jets' secondary is their strength, the Raiders' secondary is probably the team's weakness, as evidenced by their meltdown against Buffalo in the second half.
As I said last week, the way to beat the Raiders is through a short passing game that employs a lot of quick slants and underneath routes. The Bills executed this to perfection and the Raiders were left reeling.
This week, the Jets will have their crack.
As strange as this may be perceived, Mark Sanchez is not the quarterback that Ryan Fitzpatrick is. Sanchez can be prone to making costly errors and cannot effectively run an offense that is predicated on throwing the football. He succeeds when the running game is clicking and can employ his play-action fake, one of the better ones in the league.
Regardless, the Jets have some receivers that can pose a tremendous threat to the Raiders. A pair of former Pittsburgh Steelers, Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress, man the flanker positions, with Derrick Mason coming off the bench. While all three are a fraction of the players they used to be, they can present a lot of problems for Oakland's cornerbacks.
It would be in the Raiders' best interest that they put Routt on Holmes and Chris Johnson, who was abused last week by Steve Johnson, on the slower Plaxico Burress.
Both corners are 6'1'', so each one would match up equally against the taller Burress, but the key here is Holmes. He is the more polished of the two receivers and to avoid a similar situation to last week, it would behoove the Raiders to simply have Routt shadow Holmes. Inexplicably, Johnson was lined up against the Bills' Johnson for the majority of the game. Not surprisingly, he looked lost and overmatched. Hopefully, the coaching staff learned from its mistake and puts their best guy on the other team's.
While Michael Huff, the Raiders' nickel corner on passing downs, should neutralize Mason, a player the team should keep an eye on is Dustin Keller. As it is, he presents matchup problems because of his size and speed. Once again, Oakland is without safety Mike Mitchell, who they would normally have cover speedier tight ends.
Strong safety Tyvon Branch cannot be trusted to cover Keller. He has not shown that he can consistently cover the other team's tight end, never mind their receivers. Look for the Raiders to try and throw Jerome Boyd, Mitchell's replacement, on Keller and hope for the best. They will also have middle linebacker Rolando McClain try his hand at covering Keller on some plays. He was spotty in coverage last week against Buffalo.
Because of this breakdown, the Raiders have no choice but to apply pressure on Sanchez early and often. If the front four can do it on their own, they will be in great position on the back end to make plays on rushed passes. Yet, if the front four is neutralized as they were last week against Buffalo, defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan cannot sit back and hope for the corners to do their jobs. If after this first or second drive the Raiders cannot muster any push on the Jets' offensive line, they need to bring in the heat from the linebackers and the secondary. If Sanchez is unfettered in the pocket, the advantage clearly swings to New York's favor.