Instead, the Raiders (7-4) will be facing a resurgent Jets (6-5) club that third-year quarterback Chad Pennington has led to a 5-2 record and their current four-game winning streak after a 1-3 start. New York enters the contest one game behind division-leading Miami (7-4) an one-half game behind New England (7-5).
The 26-year old Pennington has fashioned the highest passer rating among AFC quarterbacks at 99.8. Pennington, who the Jets selected with the 18th pick in the 2000 draft, watched for two years as Testaverde's understudy.
The Jets defeated Buffalo 42-36 in overtime in the season-opener but lost their next three games, scoring just 13 points. Testaverde left the third of those contests with a shoulder injury. Pennington relieved Testaverde and the Jets have kept him as the starter.
In Pennington's seven starts, the Jets are averaging 26.4 points by gearing their offense to short, high-percentage passes.
"He's playing well," Oakland free safety Rod Woodson said. "He's a young guy that believes in himself and believes in his arm."
Pennington's scrambling skills will never be mistaken for Atlanta's Michael Vick but he turned a highlight film play in Sunday's 31-13 win over Buffalo. On a fourth-down play in the fourth quarter, he rolled toward the left pylon. Penntington then turned inside for an instant and then back outside, as Bills linebacker Eddie Robinson fell backward biting on the first move.
"That was impressive," Raiders strongside linebacker Bill Romanowski said. "He's pretty poised and he's making the right throws."
Of course, the Jets resurgence is not limited to Pennington. The Raiders are also facing a New York offense that has seen running back Curtis Martin return to health and form.
Martin has been hobbled with an ankle injury throughout the season but has cracked the 100-yard rushing mark the last two games. Oakland will have to avoid that scenario. Since becoming a Jet in 1998, New York is 23-6 when Martin goes over the century mark.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at email@example.com