On Offense by Brandon Dwonch
The Raiders offense has been hitting on all cylinders. Week 1 saw Darren McFadden run for 150 yards. Week 2 showcased the Raiders vertical passing game as Jason Campbell passed for 323 yards and hooked up with Denarius Moore for 146. McFadden could not be the second leading rusher in the NFL nor could Campbell be performing this well if not for the offensive line. The make shift offensive line is exceeding expectations and deserves recognition. The offensive line is creating holes, finishing blocks and keeping Campbell upright and clean.
This week the offensive line faces their stiffest test yet. The Jets’ defensive front seven is stout and only giving up 88 rushing yards per game. By comparison the Raiders defense is allowing 130 rushing yards a game. Even though the Jets front seven might be a little overrated, they and their coordinator cannot be taken lightly. Make no mistake, the Jets are a defensive team.
This is a match up of strength vs. strength. In order to win, the Raiders offense must remain balanced and efficient. This means the Raiders need to establish their physical presence in the trenches but also attack Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and the Jets secondary. If the Raiders can run for over 125 yards and pass for over 175 the offensive line would have “bullied” the Jets front seven.
On Defense by Brandon Dwonch
The Jets were a team for years that relied heavily on the run but so far this year they are trying to air it out. In two games this season the Jets have gained a paltry 146 rushing yards on a meager 48 attempts. With 32 of those attempts and 101 of those yards coming in a blowout win over Jacksonville. On the other hand, the Raiders average 35 rushing attempts and 160 rushing yards a game. With the Raiders allowing over 200 rushing yards last week, the Jets’ offensive approach might change. With the Jets being without their starting center Nick Mangold, expect the Raiders defensive line, led by Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly, to come out hungry to prove themselves and have a great game in front of a sold out coliseum.
Look for Mark Sanchez to test the Raiders questionable secondary. This Jets passing game revolves around Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress and Dustin Keller and Holmes and Keller are both serious threats. The Raiders for years have struggled covering good receiving tight ends. Keller is in the top three at his position in the AFC in receptions, yards and touchdowns and could take over this game. The Raiders cannot afford to let Keller get on a roll.
The Raiders could do themselves a favor by assigning Stanford Routt to shadow Holmes, but this is highly unlikely. Routt, who currently owns the lowest completion percentage against in the NFL at 28% (4/14), has earned a chance to create his own island. It is time to see the coverage in the secondary consistently rolled towards Chris Johnson or Demarcus Van Dyke’s side. For the Raiders secondary to improve they need to figure out and fix their defensive communication problems. They need to line up correctly and stick to their assignment. If not, it will be a very long game against the fundamentally sound Jets.
For the Raiders to win this game their secondary must produce. Somebody in the secondary needs to step up and make plays. If the Raiders defense holds Holmes and Keller’s combined receiving yardage under 100 and Mark Sanchez under 215 passing yards, they would have done their job very well and will give the Raiders a great chance for victory.
Matchups by Chris Hansen
Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly vs. Rookie Center Colin Baxter
Nick Mangold didn’t make the trip to Oakland. The undrafted rookie will start at center and face two of the best defensive tackles in the league. If Seymour and Kelly can apply pressure to Mark Sanchez up the middle, the Raiders have a good chance to disrupt the Jets’ pass and run game.
Kamerion Wimbley vs. Wayne Hunter
Another week and another right tackle for Wimbley to feast on. Putting pressure on Sanchez and forcing errors will be a key to victory. Wimbley should have another fun afternoon harassing the quarterback and should record his first sack of the year on Sunday.
Santonio Holmes vs. Stanford Routt
Although the Raiders aren’t likely to shadow Holmes with Routt, this is still a key matchup. Holmes is the flanker and as such will likely lineup across from Routt more than not. The Raiders must not have a repeat of what happened in week 2 and neutralizing Holmes needs to be their primary focus.
Dustin Keller vs. The Secondary
The Raiders may deploy several options to stop Keller which may include using Jerome Boyd, another safety or an extra cornerback. Keller presents the Raiders with challenges in coverage and the Raiders will likely initially counter with Boyd. This is the first game the Raiders will really need Boyd to step in and play like Mike Mitchell in 2010, covering tight ends and becoming a linebacker to stuff the run when needed.
D’Brickashaw Ferguson vs. Matt Shaughnessy
It’s a big game for Shaughnessy as he faces his first elite left tackle of the season. If Shaughnessy is going to become a pro bowl-type player these are the games were he needs to shine. Ferguson is a tall tackle at 6’6″ and Shaughnessy should do whatever he can to get underneath him to gain leverage. Sanchez will have a tough afternoon if he gets pressure from both sides.
Raiders Offensive Line vs. Jets Front Seven
It’s tough to point out any one player from these units that needs to play well, but Samson Satele will have his hands full with Sione Pouha the big nose tackle. Satele has played well, but has struggled in the past with good nose tackles. If Satele can handle Pouha without significant help from Stefen Wisniewski or Cooper Carlile, the two guards will be free to take on blitzing linebackers like Bart Scott and Calvin Pace. This is the greatest test of the Raiders new look offensive line and the two tackles will always be under the most pressure. Jared Veldheer and Khalif Barnes will need to diagnose blitzes on the outside and pick up the inside man to allow Jason Campbell to step up into the pocket.
Denarius Moore vs. Darrelle Revis
Will the Jets shadow the rookie with one of the best cornerbacks in the league? They might try to limit the rookie and force the Raiders other receivers to beat them. It’s a tough matchup for any rookie. If Moore can beat Revis for a couple his hype train may never stop.
Derek Hagan/Chaz Schilens vs. Kyle Wilson
It’s either Derek Hagan or Chaz Schilens for the Raiders against the Jets slot corner Kyle Wilson. The Jets slot corner has been targeted more than any other team through the first two weeks. Revis and Antonio Cromartie have limited opponents number one and two receivers leaving the slot corner as the best option. Look for the Raiders third receivers to play an important role in this game.
Kevin Boss vs. Blitzing Linebackers
It’s the debut for Boss in Silver and Black and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. The Jets like to throw crazy looks at the opposing quarterbacks and will send at least one linebacker to rush the passer. Boss will need to find the soft spot vacated by the rusher and Campbell will need to deliver the ball to Boss in the face of a rush. If accomplished the Raiders will effectively take away the linebacker lined up across from Boss and this will make it easier to diagnose blitzes as they will likely come from the weak side. The Raiders may try to do the same on the weak side by running screens to Darren McFadden. It is often more effective to burn the blitz on a pass than max protect, particularly when the opposing defense has Revis and Cromartie.
Hue Jackson vs. Rex Ryan
They both want bullies, but only one can be a bully on Sunday. Who will it be? The Jets defense is aggressive and the Jackson may call a few misdirection plays and see if he can’t get some of his speed out in the open. Jackson needs to have his players on the same page to diagnose Ryan’s defensive looks that can give offenses fits. The bully this Sunday will be the coach who outsmart the man on the other side of the field.
Score Prediction: Raiders 20, Jets 19.