Countdown to Paydirt: at New York Jets

The beginning of the regular season is finally upon us, Raider Nation. I know you were excited to start training camp and preseason, so I can imagine how excited The Nation is to get the 2014 regular season underway.

Each team is 0-0 (well, except for the Seahawks and Packers). Each fanbase has hope. Each team has a matchup coming on Sunday.

For the Raiders, they’re already in New York preparing to take on the Jets. Head coach Dennis Allen changed their usual away schedule by departing for New York on Thursday instead of Friday, hoping to snap a 13-game losing streak in the eastern time zone.

The matchup marks the second straight season that the Raiders have traveled to MetLife Stadium to take on the Jets, falling 37-27 last season.

The Raiders struggled to contain then-rookie quarterback Geno Smith last year as he finished with five rushes for 50 yards and one rushing touchdown to go along with 16/25 for 219 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

The Jets sought out to add some weapons for their young quarterback and signed wide receiver Eric Decker. The Raiders should know Decker well as he was with the Denver Broncos for the last four seasons. Decker caught 87 passes for 1,288 yards (14.8 avg.) and 11 TDs with Peyton Manning as his quarterback in 2013.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan says there is a “night and day” difference between Smith last year and Smith this year after he beat out veteran Michael Vick for the starting job. The second-year quarterback has looked like a much better pocket passer in preseason, but is still a threat to run.

As is the case with running quarterbacks, the Raiders defensive linemen and linebackers must stay disciplined in their gap control to stop his rushing attack.

The Raiders struggled to defend the Raiders rushing attack as a whole last year, allowing 143 yards on the ground. The Raiders still feature Chris Ivory at running back but have added speedster Chris Johnson as a change-of-pace back.

As usual, Ryan presents a stout defense that can present problems to a quarterback, especially for a rookie like Derek Carr. Ryan will likely look to trick Carr with his coverages but also bring complex blitz packages to apply pressure on Carr.

Carr is coming off of an 11 for 13 for 143 yards and three touchdown game that helped earn him the starting job. Starting in New York against a Ryan defense will certainly be a tough task for Carr, but something he appears confident he can handle.

Offensive coordinator Greg Olsen will hope to establish a strong running game with Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden in order to alleviate some of the pressure on Carr. Problem is that the Jets are extremely strong against the run, giving up just 88.3 yards per game on the ground last year (third best in the NFL).

Carr and the Raiders offense may have an easier time attacking the Jets defense through the air, especially with their banged up secondary. The Jets were 22nd against the pass last year, giving up 246.7 passing yards per game. The Jets will also be without second-year cornerback Dee Milliner, who remains out with an ankle injury. The Jets will have cornerback Antonio Allen though.

The Raiders will head back home to take on the Houston Texas for their home opener in week two.

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