Sunday, October 19, 2008

Jets vs Raiders preview

I already made my prediction, 28-10 Jets in my week 7 picks post below, but let's take a look at the matchups and the reasons on why I believe the Jets will end up on the winning end in the Black Hole.

Jets pass offense vs Raiders pass defense
Brett Favre leads the 15th ranked Jets passing offense against the 25th ranked Raiders pass defense. Presumably, Favre will pick on DeAngelo Hall, the free agent bust who plays opposite shutdown cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, a player who should get more recognition than he does. Oakland has allowed 16 passes of 20 yards or more, so if Brian Schottenheimer wants to throw the ball down the field, this could be the game to do it. Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles split the receiving duties pretty equally, and it will be interesting to see who puts up the numbers this week. Favre has been good this season, but he is always prone to the occasional bad turnover. However, Oakland's leading pass rusher Derrick Burgess will likely miss this game, so Favre should have plenty of time to pick apart the Raiders' secondary, which will also start Hiram Eugene at safety over former first round pick Michael Huff. He will likely be thrown at more than Gibril Wilson, who is simply a better all-around player than Eugene or Huff. Look for Cotchery and Coles to take turns abusing Hall and Eugene on the way to a big game for Favre.

Jets run offense vs Raiders run defense
Coming off his first career three touchdown game, Thomas Jones will try his luck against a Raiders defense that has limited opponents to 3.9 yards per carry. Jones has still struggled to gain consistent yardage, but the three touchdown effort went a long way in showing that the running game could score in the redzone. Tommy Kelly, Kirk Morrison, and Thomas Howard lead a decent front seven that has a lot of size and speed, typical elements of an Al Davis football team. The Jets only average 3.7 yards per carry and only three teams have rushed for less yards, so the pressure is on Jones and the offensive line to take some pressure off Favre. Expect something similar to what you've seen for much of the season: Jones should be able to run the ball decently, probably something like 17 carries for 65 yards like last week. Leon Washington and Jesse Chatman may see more time.

Raiders pass offense vs Jets pass defense
JaMarcus Russell threw 35 times last week, completing just 13 passes against a porous Saints defense, and even Tom Cable admitted that he isn't quite ready for primetime. Nonetheless, Russell leads the 29th ranked passing offense, which is going through lots of changes as Ronald Curry and Javon Walker's playing time are expected to be cut in favor of younger players like Chaz Schillens and Johnnie Lee Higgins.
The Jets have the no. 28 pass defense, so they have been susceptible to the pass, especially on rookie Dwight Lowery's side. Teams don't want to throw the ball at Darrelle Revis. Kerry Rhodes hasn't made a major impact yet, but he's too talented for that to last too long. It will be interesting to see if the former no. 1 pick Russell can get anything going Sunday.

Raiders run offense vs Jets run defense
This is the Raiders' bread and butter, and their only real chance of winning. Oakland averages 4.6 yards per carry on the ground, and have gotten good production from Justin Fargas, Darren McFadden, and Michael Bush. McFadden and Fargas are both recovering from injury, but all three runningbacks can put together good games. Of course, for this to matter, they need to be in the game or ahead. Otherwise, they could be forced to abandon the run, and then the game would be in Russell's hands. The Jets have been very difficult to run on this season, as teams have averaged just 2.9 yards per carry. Only Baltimore and Pittsburgh have held teams to less yards per carry. So even if Oakland stays in the game, they could have trouble getting consistent yardage against a front seven led by Kris Jenkins, Shaun Ellis, Calvin Pace, and David Harris.

Special teams
The Jets' punting circus may finally have calmed as Reggie Hodges is healthy, and he punted pretty well last week. Jay Feely will still be the field goal kicker, but he's been better of late, too. The Raiders feature some of the biggest kicking legs in football, with Shane Lechler and Sebastian Janikowski, though Janikowski sometimes struggles with accuracy. Higgins and Washington are the main returning threats on each team, and both have the speed and skill to be touchdown threats every time they touch the ball.

Oakland usually plays well after getting killed, but with Lane Kiffin out and Cable in, it's hard to know what the players are thinking. They may have just thrown in the towel. The Jets have to show up and not take this game for granted with a big game at Buffalo the following week. The Bills game is one of the biggest games on the Jets' schedule, but they can't look ahead because the Raiders have raw talent, and they could be able to score.

As I said before, I predict a 28-10 Jets victory. Oakland will try to establish the run, and they'll run a little better than other teams have been able to do against the Jets, but Russell should be under pressure and struggle to put points on the board. As long as the Jets can keep pressure off Favre, he should be able to dissect the Raiders' defense to a pretty big game. Besides, they can't lose to the Raiders, can they?


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