Saturday, December 7, 2013

Four Point Stance: Raiders at Jets


The New York Jets all but officially crushed their own playoff hopes last week with their third loss in a row in yet another pathetic showing -- that time at the hands of the rival Miami Dolphins.

Gang Green (5-7), who are still mathematically alive but realistically dead, play host to the Oakland Raiders Sunday in a battle of mediocrity. And that's putting it nicely. The Raiders (4-8) have lost five games in which they've held a halftime lead, most recently to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

The RedZone channel would be best served steering clear of this one if it can help it. Otherwise, cue the complaints from paying customers. We'll still be watching, however.

When the Jets have the ball:
Rookie quarterback Geno Smith hasn't completed a passing touchdown in nearly two months and was benched at halftime last week after completing just four passes. He hasn't completed more than nine passes in a game since October and has thrown eight interceptions in that span. Still, Smith was again given the starting nod this coming week, and his last-gasp effort to preserve any sliver of hope for the Jets will be against a Raiders passing defense that has struggled to generate interceptions and is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete more than 66 percent of their passes. Smith will get back receiver Jeremy Kerley, who still leads the team in receiving despite sitting the last four weeks to injury (what does that tell you?), which should help New York in the third-down department.

When the Raiders have the ball:
The Raiders' running game had picked up some major steam in November but is now at the mercy of its top three tailbacks battling injuries. An ailing backfield will undoubtedly force the Raiders to the air, which isn't necessarily a bad thing against a Jets secondary that has been getting burned for deep pass completions all season long. The Jets' defensive front remains stout and will look to put copious amounts of pressure on rookie quarterback Matt McGloin.

Turnovers. Theoretically, the Jets should be able to roll in this one of the offense just doesn't give it away. That, however, has been the Jets' problem all season long. Smith will hear a stadium of boos if he doesn't move the ball right away, but he can't let the animosity from the fans force him into careless throws. The Raiders' defense will give Smith opportunities, but he must take what is given and protect the football in all other instances.

The Raiders lead the all-time head-to-head series by a 23-17-2 margin and have won two of the last three. The Jets' last win over Oakland was a 2009 drubbing that saw New York win, 38-0, and Mark Sanchez eat a hot dog on the sideline. The Jets have won their last three home meetings with the Raiders.

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