The Oakland Raiders lost to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day to fall to 4-8 and lost the chance to have a winning record this season. This week the Raiders head across the country to take on the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
Both teams are clinging to the slightest playoff hope and will need a win to keep that hope for a wild card spot.
Here’s a look at the five keys to victory for the Raiders against the Jets:
1. Stop The Run The Jets own the 10th-best rushing attack and will be looking to establish a ground game in the cold weather of New Jersey. The AFC East team relies on a two-back game with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell getting the carries. Ivory leads with 563 yards and two touchdowns, while Powell has 516 yards and a score. The Jets also receive some yards from quarterback Geno Smith. The Raiders are 10th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game but struggled last week against the Cowboys. They must be able to contain the run and force the rookie Smith to beat them through the air. If the Raiders cannot stop Ivory and Powell, the Jets will be able to control the game at their pace and grind out a victory at home. Expect the defense to step up after last week and force the Jets to find another way to beat them. 2. Force Turnovers Rookie quarterback Smith leads the league in interceptions with 19 picks in 12 games this season. He has six in the last three games and was benched in the second half of last week’s loss against the Miami Dolphins. The Jets have also fumbled the ball seven times this season and own the worst giveaway/takeaway ratio in the NFL. The Raiders have just seven interceptions this season but have forced 10 fumbles, third-best in the NFL. They must force these turnovers against the Jets to limit the scoring and to put themselves in position to score more points. If the Raiders can take the ball away, their chances of winning greatly increase. Look for the secondary to be aggressive when the ball is in the air and intercept a couple passes. 3. Air It Out The Jets rank 25th in passing yards allowed per game, while the Raiders have been climbing the ranks and are now 28th in passing yards per game. If the weather permits, the offense must attack the Jets’ secondary and move the ball through the air. Quarterback Matt McGloin has thrown over 250 yards the past two games but just one touchdown to show for it. The Raiders are dealing with a few injuries at running back and may have to give carries to Taiwan Jones this week. Rashad Jennings’ status is unclear as he recovers from a concussion and Darren McFadden has not practiced this week with an ankle injury. The team will have to rely on McGloin and the passing game, even though it seems wide receiver Denarius Moore will be out again. McGloin has developed relationships with receivers Rod Streater and Andre Holmes and should be able to put up some big numbers against a weak passing defense. 4. Put Points On The Board The Raiders average just under 20 points per game this season and have been a victim of leaving points on the field. Some of this has been due to turnovers in the red zone, while some has been due to kicker Sebastian Janikowski’s struggles. They must find a way to score more points this week, especially on the road in inclement weather against a struggling Jets defense. The Jets allow 25.8 points per game and the Raiders must at least reach that as an offense to earn their fifth win of
the season. The Raiders will attack the Jets through the air and will have some big plays that lead to touchdowns. 5. Finish Strong The Raiders followed a similar pattern in last week’s loss when they took an early lead in the first half, only to see it erased in the second half due to an ineffective offense and a tired defense. The Raiders led 21-14 at the half last week, but were outscored 17-3 in the second half. The defense was noticeably exhausted in the later drives of the second half, evidenced by their inability to bring down the ball carrier. If the Raiders plan to win, they will need a much better effort in the second half this week. The Raider offense must help the defense by sustaining drives and scoring more than three points. In turn, the defense will have more energy that could lead to turnovers and field position for the offense. Playing in the Eastern time zone has given the Raiders trouble but the team is looking to end the season strong and will give an all-out effort. (h/t Raiders Tribune)