Friday, October 23, 2009

Jets vs Raiders Preview

New York Jets at Oakland Raiders
October, 25, 2009, 4:05 PM – CBS

Just three weeks ago, the Jets seemed unstoppable. The defense was playing out of its mind, and Mark Sanchez looked well beyond his years. Three straight losses, and an injury to their most valuable defensive player now have the Jets reeling for a victory. Oakland is a good team to reverse a losing streak against, but Buffalo at home looked like the same thing last week, and with the Jets’ recent struggles both on the West Coast and in the 4:00 time slot, nothing is a given. Oakland even won last week, stunning the Philadelphia Eagles 13-9. The Jets are 6.5 point favorites on the road, but you can throw out the odds in this rivalry.

Key Injuries


Jets
OUT
WR Jerricho Cotchery
WR Brad Smith
NT Kris Jenkins
CB Lito Sheppard

QUESTIONABLE
CB Donald Strickland (expected to play)
T Damien Woody (expected to play)

Raiders
OUT
LB Ricky Brown
G Robert Gallery
T Cornell Green
RB Darren McFadden

QUESTIONABLE
DE Greg Ellis
WR Chaz Schillens
DE Richard Seymour

When the Jets have the ball…

After Mark Sanchez threw five interceptions last week, it’s pretty obvious the Jets are going to want to run the ball. Against Buffalo Thomas Jones was able to set a franchise record 210 yards, and Leon Washington added another 99 yards. Brian Schottenheimer has taken a lot of heat all week for putting his quarterback in bad situations, but Sanchez quite simply has to play better.

Oakland has allowed 145.3 yards-per-game on the ground this season, with opponents having a 4.3 yards-per-carry average. The Eagles’ top two backs only managed 63 yards in the loss last week, but Philadelphia has a terrible habit of abandoning the run far too early, and their banged up offensive line got manhandled by the Raiders’ front seven. There is talent up front on defense for Oakland, with linebackers Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison leading the defense behind an underrated defensive line with Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly.

That defensive line gave the Eagles fits last week, and they performed admirably against San Diego and Kansas City. The Jets should be able to hold up better up front, but they will not be able to run the ball as easily as they could last week. The Raiders’ bloated stats have as much to do with their offensive ineptitude as anything else.

Points could be hard to come by for the Jets. Nnamdi Asomugha is widely considered the best cornerback in football, even though Darrelle Revis, Antoine Winfield, Champ Bailey, and Jabari Greer have given him some competition, Braylon Edwards will have his hands full. Edwards was slowed by a quad injury a little in practice, but he will be good-to-go against Asomugha.

Jerricho Cotchery and Brad Smith will both miss another week with their injuries, so David Clowney will make his second straight (and second career) start. In his first start last week, he wasn’t thrown to once, but he’ll be matched up against Chris Johnson, so he should have more opportunities to make plays. Without Smith, Wallace Wright will keep getting playing time, and Danny Woodhead could make his offensive debut at receiver.

TE Dustin Keller was thrown to ten times last week, but he only made two catches, and he and Sanchez looked out of sync all game. Keller has been a big disappointment this season in terms of his production in the passing game, but he should be a key part of the gameplan this week again.

Oakland held Philadelphia to nine points last week. There is a good deal of talent on the defense, but the coaching and the desire have often been questioned. Coming off a big win, the Raiders should be fired up to try to win a second straight in Oakland Alameda Coliseum and a second straight against the Jets. The Jets will get their yards on the ground, but they have struggled to score in the redzone, and without Jerricho Cotchery and Brad Smith, two of their more physical receivers, it could be a problem again.

Advantage: Push

When the Raiders have the ball…


The Oakland Raiders are the worst offensive team in football. They are dead last in the NFL in yards-per-game (213.8) and are 31st in points-per-game (10.3). JaMarcus Russell has the 2nd worst quarterback rating in the NFL at 51.0. Only Derek Anderson has been worse. Mark Sanchez, by the way, is third worst (34th overall) at 56.7.

Russell “leads” a passing game that has been inept this season. He has completed 45.6% of his passes. He is not helped by a young and raw receiving corps, led by Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Chaz Schilens, the guy who was supposed to be their #1 receiver, was supposed to make his return this week, but he had to miss the end of practice Friday, so his return is in doubt.

Even without Lito Sheppard, the Jets should be able to smother the Raiders’ receivers. Russell’s number one option in this game, as it has been all season, should be tight end Zach Miller. Miller is a talented tight end with soft hands and athletic ability. He scored an 86-yard touchdown pass last week for Oakland’s fifth touchdown all season. He could provide mismatch problems for the Jets’ linebackers, but since everyone knows he is Russell’s primary option, and Russell isn’t the most accurate quarterback, the Jets should focus on him.

As far as running the football, Oakland hasn’t been that bad for the past few seasons. This season, however, the offensive line has declined, largely due to the injuries to G Robert Gallery and RB Darren McFadden. RB Michael Bush and RB Justin Fargas carry the load for the Raiders. Bush is a fairly explosive power back who has been their most productive back at 3.7 yards-per-carry, but both Lane Kiffin and Tom Cable seem more willing to give the ball to Fargas, who is viewed as a more steady veteran.

The Jets’ run defense is the unit hurt most by the loss of Kris Jenkins. Sione Pouha does not command, and certainly can’t make plays through, double teams, so David Harris and Bart Scott will have to deal with even more blockers. Harris has been particularly inconsistent this season, so he will have to step his play up. Everyone will.

The Raiders should be able to move the ball a little between the twenties with the run, but let’s face it: they simply can’t score. This isn’t a case of a team with some talent hamstrung by a bad offensive line and quarterback like Buffalo. In the past five weeks, they have scored a total of 42 points, and even without Kris Jenkins, the Jets’ defense is good enough to hold them down. Even with six interceptions, the Bills only scored 16 points in four quarters and half of overtime. Oakland hasn’t scored more than 13 points than week one, and the Jets have too much talent at linebacker and in the secondary to expect anything more from the Raiders.

Advantage: Jets

Intangibles


You would think that Gang Green would come out firing after losing three straight. However, you would have thought the same thing last week, and it didn’t happen. Sanchez is in a bad place right now, and he needs to snap out of it. Long-term, he should be fine, but as a rookie, he was so bad last week that it may affect him into the next week. The Raiders finally got a taste of winning last week, and the Jets are a team that they usually get up to play for. New York has struggled going out west lately, and Oakland won the game last year with a far inferior team. It could happen again.

Advantage: Raiders

Prediction


As bad as the Jets have played, Oakland has been worse, at least offensively. A team like Philadelphia played right into the Raiders’ hands, as they could dominate the line of scrimmage defensively, and the Eagles aren’t committed to the run. The Jets will run the football and control time of possession. Sanchez just can’t lose the game like he’s done against New Orleans and Buffalo, and the Jets should be able to put up at least 13 points. That should be enough to beat Oakland, who could struggle for double digits. Long-term, the Jets defense will run into trouble without Jenkins, probably starting against Miami next week. But there’s still plenty left in the tank to beat the Raiders.

Jets 17, Raiders 9

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