Are Raiders fac­ing Jets at the wrong time?

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - By Jon Becker

If there was ever a bad time to be fac­ing the New York Jets, the Oak­land Raiders just may be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing it this week. At sec­ond glance, the once-laugh­able Jets may no longer de­serve the scorn they’ve been draw­ing most of the sea­son.

If you’re like most NFL fans, you haven’t both­ered to no­tice the Jets are now rid­ing a twogame win­ning streak. And, judg­ing by how dif­fi­cult it was for Oak­land to dis­pose of the win­less Ben­gals on Sun­day, beat­ing the Jets might not be an easy task.

For the first time in more than a year, the Jets of­fense ac­counted for more than 400 yards in a game while New York routed Wash­ing­ton 34-17 on Sun­day. Is it a case of for­tunes chang­ing or just for­tu­nate op­po­nents? The Jets’ re­cent wins have come against the Giants and Wash­ing­ton, nei­ther team that could be mis­taken for a con­tender.

Still, those who em­brace his­tor­i­cal co­in­ci­dences might get a kick out of the sim­i­lar­i­ties sur­round­ing the Oak­land Raiders’ first NFL road game against the Jets, and this, their final one in New York this Sun­day.

Nearly 49 years to the week, the play­off-hope­ful Raiders first went to New York to play a Jets team with no shot at the play­offs. Just like today, the Jets back in 1970 were 3-7 af­ter sur­pris­ingly win­ning two straight games be­fore the Raiders came to town. Back then, like today, the Raiders had six wins and they des­per­ately needed to avoid a Jets up­set in or­der to re­main tied for first place in the AFC West with the Kansas City Chiefs.

OK, today’s Raiders don’t have a 43-year-old mir­a­cle worker like Ge­orge Blanda around to pull out last-sec­ond vic­to­ries, but you get the point.

As for his­tory re­peat­ing, Raiders fans should be so for­tu­nate to wit­ness an end­ing such as the one that pro­vided an Oak­land

road win in 1970. Cue the tape of the Raiders scor­ing a game-win­ning touchdown off a tipped pass with eight sec­onds left.

Here’s a closer look at some fac­tors that may de­ter­mine which team pre­vails this week:

Game es­sen­tials: Raiders (64) vs. Jets (3-7) in New York, Sun­day at 10 a.m. (PT) on CBS-TV. ODDS: Raiders -3.5.

Three rea­sons for Raiders’ op­ti­mism

The grounded Jets’ run­ning

at­tack — The Jets hoped for much more from Le’Veon Bell when they signed him to a fouryear, $52 mil­lion free-agent deal be­fore the sea­son. In­stead, they’ve got the league’s 21st-lead­ing rusher and a guy who has av­er­aged more than 3 1/2 yards per carry in just one game this sea­son. Of course, it’s not all Bell’s fault. His of­fen­sive line has strug­gled all year try­ing to open up holes. His 18-carry, 59-yard game against Wash­ing­ton Sun­day was ac­tu­ally one of bet­ter games sta­tis­ti­cally for the Jets.

Big trou­bles up front — Speak­ing of the Jets of­fen­sive line, it will need to be much bet­ter than it’s been to slow down a sud­denly emerg­ing Raiders de­fen­sive front with rook­ies Maxx Crosby and Clelin Fer­rell. But do the Jets’ line­men have it in them? The num­bers cer­tainly don’t sug­gest it. The Jets have the 31st-rated line in terms of rush­ing (See Le’Veon Bell’s strug­gles). Things don’t get much bet­ter when Sam Darnold drops back to pass, ei­ther. New York’s line has al­lowed the sec­ond-most sacks (42) in the league and it has al­lowed a sack on 11.6 per­cent of the Jets’ pass­ing plays, also sec­ond-worst in the league.

Mis­takes wait­ing to hap­pen

— The theme for most of the Jets’ sea­son have been their self­in­d­uced trou­bles, from the rashes of turnovers to the glut of penal­ties, it’s not sur­pris­ing New York has strug­gled. The Jets have got­ten a bit bet­ter about the turnovers lately, but still have the fifth-most in the NFL with 19 give­aways (13 in­ter­cep­tions, six fum­bles). The Jets are also the third-most pe­nal­ized team in to­tal yards. Those fac­tors help ex­plain why the Jets av­er­age just 16.4 points per game, worse than just three other NFL teams.

Three rea­sons for Raiders’ pes­simism

NFL’s tough­est front? — Don’t let the Jets record fool you, these guys are no pushover, par­tic­u­larly New York’s de­fen­sive front seven, led by emerg­ing star run stuffer Folorunso Fatukasi. Since Week 6, the for­mer six­thround pick from Con­necti­cut has graded out bet­ter than ev­ery NFL line­man ex­cept two — the Rams’ Aaron Don­ald and the Jaguars’ Calais Camp­bell. Af­ter hold­ing Wash­ing­ton to just 54 yards on 20 car­ries (2.7 yards per carry), the Jets are of­fi­cially the most dif­fi­cult team in the NFL to run the ball against. The Jets have only per­mit­ted an av­er­age of 81.9 yards on the ground through 10 games, which doesn’t seem to bode well for the run­first Raiders. Much of the credit for the Jets’ de­fense goes to the em­bat­tled Gregg Wil­liams, its co­or­di­na­tor.

Most dom­i­nant safety around — Ja­mal Adams has ar­guably been the best de­fen­sive player in the NFL over the past three weeks. Over that time, the third-year star safety has set a Jets record for most sacks for a de­fen­sive back (six) as well as to­tal­ing 16 tack­les, two forced fum­bles, a fum­ble re­cov­ery and a touchdown. On Sun­day, Adams had three sacks of Wash­ingto’s Dwayne Hask­ins and is now just two away from the NFL’s sin­gle­sea­son record of eight set in 2005 by Ari­zona’s Adrian Wil­son. But Adams isn’t just a pass rush­ing threat, he’s also the Jets’ best tack­ler, lead­ing the team with 52. Adams is also con­sid­ered their top cov­er­age man — he has just one in­ter­cep­tion be­cause quar­ter­backs tend to stay away from him.

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