The Jets look to bounce back from a tough loss to the Patriots and get back to their winning ways when they travel to Oakland to take on the Raiders, but this isn't the sadsack Raiders of the recent pass. This Raiders team actually has some real, honest-to-goodness, talent. Young talent at that. The Raiders look to be trending in the right direction, for the first time in seemingly forever, and it's all because of two second-year players and a rookie receiver.
Quarterback Derek Carr is progressing nicely and looks like he might just be more than an average quarterback in this league, Khalil Mack is a terror on the defensive-side of the ball and rookie receiver Amari Cooper hasn't wasted any time showing the NFL that he is absolutely, as Brandon Marshall called him, a "stud muffin."
There are some other talented players on the Raiders, running back Latavius Murray, a big offensive line, receiver Michael Crabtree, the troubled but talented Aldon Smith and the ageless Charles Woodson, but make no mistake the heart of this team is their three young stud muffins. Still the Jets are the more talented team and this is a game they must win to stay on track to grab one of the wildcard spots. Under Rex Ryan the Jets struggled in these games, even if they won they would barely win, so far under Todd Bowles the Jets have done a good job of disposing the teams that they are vastly superior than. The Raiders are much improved from the past few years but they are still a team that the Jets should be able to wear down and beat over four quarters.
WHEN: Sunday November 1, 2015 4:05 pm EST
WHERE: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Oakland, CA
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Pressure and confuses Carr - Carr has been impressive so far but he's still hasn't shown he is capable of completely taking over a game through the air against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Sure the Raiders did pretty much whatever they wanted against San Diego last week but that game got away from the Chargers early and they were never able to regain their footing and put up much of a fight against the Raiders. With the Jets run defense being as stout as it is, so stout that the Patriots didn't even bother trying to run the ball last week, Carr can't rely on Murray to carry the offense on the ground. He's going to have to test the Jets through the air to pull out a victory.
As good as Carr has been he's still just a second-year quarterback and can be forced into bad decisions or throwaways when pressured. And of course even if Carr isn't feeling heavy pressure he'll still have to fit passes into tight windows against the Jets secondary. What the Jets will have to be extra wary of are the bubble screens to Cooper. The Raiders do a great job of getting their big offensive line down field and blocking for the quick and shifty Cooper and he just has a knack for slipping through cracks and finding open lanes to run through. This is where the Raiders are the most dangerous and the Jets defense has to stay in their lanes, slip blockers and make the tackles in space.
Pound Ivory - Obviously the Jets offense functions at it's best when they can let Ivory loose to run over defenses but the Raiders run defense is very good. The Jets have the best run defense in the NFL (allowing 71.5 yards per game at 3.4 yards per carry), but the Raiders have the second best run defense in the league (allowing 84.3 yards per game at 3.7 yards a carry). As impressive as those numbers are the Raiders haven't faced a rushing offense nearly as good as the Jets, the best rushing offense they faced was the Bengals who have the 15th ranked rushing offense (122.2 yards per game at 4.0 yards per carry), the Bengals rushed 31 times for 127 yards (4.1 yards per carry) and two touchdowns against the Raiders that day.
Even if the Jets can't run the ball as well as they are able to on most days the Jets will need to stick with the run to setup the passing game and take advantage of the Raiders through the air. The Raiders defense isn't nearly as good against the pass but if they don't have to worry about stacking the box against Ivory then they'll have a much easier time stopping the pass.
Find a rhythm through the air - As stated above the Raiders passing defense is not nearly as good as their rush defense. The still have Woodson, who is somehow still playing at a high level after all these years, but they have the 22nd ranked passing defense allowing 304 yards per game, at 7.1 yards per attempt and a quarterback rating of 89.2. The Raiders don't have any cornerbacks that can take away Eric Decker and Marshall so while the Jets will look to run the ball and wear out the Raiders defense Ryan Fitzpatrick must also take advantage of the Raiders secondary and as we know the way he can do that is with Marshall and Decker.
Amari Cooper vs. Darrelle Revis - He may be just a rookie but Cooper is already one of the most electrifying and exciting players to watch but this week he will face the toughest challenge of his career as Revis figures to draw coverage on him for most of the day if not the entire day. Cooper is a flawless route-runner with great ball skills and a knack for making plays after the catch but he's about to take his first trip to Revis Island and he's not likely to do much better than all the other receivers who have been stranded, washed ashore, there since Revis entered the league. This will likely lead to the Raiders leaning on the bubble screens even more this week and that's where the rest of the defense needs to step up and make tackles.
PREDICTION: Jets 34-16
Last week the Jets played good but they just weren't good enough to beat the Patriots. The Jets even led in the fourth quarter but the Patriots talent won out after 60 minutes and the same should happen here. While the Raiders are without a doubt much improved the Jets are still the more talented team and Ivory and Stevan Ridley will do enough on the ground to give Fitzpatrick enough space to find Marshall and Decker through the air. The first half could be close but by the end of the game the Jets will have won quite comfortably.
Chris Nimbley is the Editor-in-Chief of JetsInsider.com/Scout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)