The Raiders (4-8) head back to New York to take on the Jets (5-7) looking to get their season back on track after dropping their last two games.
Dennis Allen and the Raiders are coming off an extended week after playing on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas, falling to the Cowboys 31-24 late after building an early lead.
The Jets head into the matchup on a losing streak of their own, dropping their last three games which ultimately culminated Jets head coach Rex Ryan benching his starting quarterback, rookie Geno Smith.
Smith, who was once thought to be a target of the Raiders in April’s draft, struggled over his last two and a half games before being benched at halftime of last game in favor of undrafted rookie Matt Simms. The former second-round draft pick Smith had six interceptions and no touchdowns in those two and a half games.
Ryan has since reinstated Smith as the Jets starting quarterback, making the change short-lived. Smith is averaging just 188 yards per game while completing just 54.7 percent of his passes and throwing eight touchdowns and nineteen interception in his 12 starts.
Smith’s rookie road bumps help contribute to a Jets offense that struggles to score points, averaging just 15.6 yards per game, second to worst in the league.
The Jets struggles on offense can also be attributed to their lack of offensive weapons. Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley leads the Jets in receptions and receiving yards with 28 receptions for 347 yards.
The Jets primarily use a running-by-committee attack to attempt to get points on the board. Though the Jets are averaging 124.7 rushing yards per game (10th in the NFL), running back Chris Ivory, their leading rusher, is averaging just 46.9 yards per game.
Instead, the Jets attempt to rely on their defense to keep them in games.
Undrafted rookie Matt McGloin and the Raiders offense face a defense allowing just 333.8 yards per game, 12th in the NFL.
Much of the Jets success on defense stems from their number-one ranked rush defense, allowing a measly 77.0 yards per game this season.
The Raiders are currently plagued with injury problems at the running back position, making their rushing attack even more difficult to execute. Darren McFadden is likely out with an ankle injury, Jeremy Stewart out with a knee and ankle injury, and recent standout Rashad Jennings is recovering from a concussion suffered during last game. With so many injuries, the Raiders have turned to running back-turned-cornerback Taiwan Jones in practice this week.
Allen and the coaching staff hope that they will have Jennings at full strength for Sunday’s game as he has been a pleasant surprise this year, out-producing fellow running back McFadden. In fact, Jennings’ 596 total yards (448 rushing yards, 148 receiving yards) exceeds all other players in the month of November.
Starting left tackle Jared Veldheer returned last week from his torn tricep injury to face one of the toughest defensive ends in the league, DeMarcus Ware. Veldheer did a stellar job on Ware, but won’t have any easier of a matchup this week as he will be primarily in charge of blocking Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson. Wilkerson is currently seventh in the NFL for most sacks with 10 on the year.
The Raiders offensive line will need to keep McGloin upright and give him enough time if they hope to get the passing game going.
It is likely that McGloin and the coaching staff will look to attack rookie cornerback Dee Milliner who has already been benched three times this season for his poor play on the field. According to Advanced NFL Stats, Milliner is ranked the 97th overall cornerback by their system. In other words: he hasn’t lived up to the hype that got him drafted ninth-overall in April’s draft.
With Antonio Cromartie opposite of Milliner, there’s no doubt the Raiders should target Milliner early and often. Wide receiver Denarius Moore looks to be doubtful for Sunday’s game with his shoulder injury, giving last week’s standout Andre Holmes another opportunity.
McGloin and Holmes looked to have good chemistry last week as the tall 6-foot-4 wide receiver hauled in a career-high seven receptions for 136 yards. Holmes has earned McGloin’s trust with his ability to go up and make a play on the ball wherever the young quarterback puts the ball.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Raiders put quarterback Terrelle Pryor in the game at all after being active for the last two games but not earning any playing time. There has supposedly been a package of plays for him to come in and run since McGloin has been named the starter but the coaching staff has chosen against inserting him in there.
The Raiders and Jets last met in 2011, with the Raiders victorious by a final of 34-24.
DE Lamarr Houston
• Needs three sacks to enter the top 20 in Raiders team history.
K Sebastian Janikowski
• Has now converted on 155-consecutive PAT attempts.
• Needs just 48 points to reach 1,500 for his career.
• Needs one game played to tie Gene Upshaw for second-most games played in
RB Rashad Jennings
• Has already surpassed his career-high with 588 rushing yards on the year.
• Has already surpassed his career-high with 833 total yards on the year.
RB Darren McFadden
• Needs 315 rushing yards to eclipse 4,000 yards for his career.
• Needs 470 receiving yards to eclipse 1,500 yards for his career.
• Needs one rushing TD to move into sole posession of ninth place on the franchise’s
career list, and two to tie No. 8 Charlie Smith (24, 1968-74). McFadden enters the
game with 22.
WR Denarius Moore
• Needs 72 receiving yards to reach 2,000 for his career.
QB Terrelle Pryor
• Is currently first amongst all quarterbacks with 504 rushing yards. Pryor could
eclipse the Raiders’ single-season mark of rushing yards by a quarterback with just
26 more yards. Rich Gannon set the mark in 2000 with 529.
WR Rod Streater
• Needs 259 receiving yards to reach 1,500 for his career.
S Charles Woodson
• Needs five interceptions to tie Ed Reed for first on the interceptions list among all
active players with 61.
• Needs one INT-TD to pass Rod Woodson for first on the all-time list with 12.
• Needs one defensive touchdown to pass Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper for the
most defensive touchdowns in NFL history with 13.