The Oakland Raiders (6-4) head to the East Rutherford, New Jersey to take on the New York Jets (3-7) in Week 12 NFL action. Here are my three keys to victory for the silver and black:
Win the Battle of “Strength vs. Strength”
It’s well documented that head coach Jon Gruden’s offense likes to run the football, even when the opposing team knows they’re going to run it. That’s smash mouth football in all its glory. Rookie sensation Josh Jacobs is averaging 4.8 yards per carry, which is 8th best in the NFL amongst running backs with 100+ rush attempts.
With that said, New York should be their most difficult test of the season in that phase of the game. The Jets give up just 3.0 yards per carry, which is #1 in the NFL. They’ve also only given up 45 first downs on the ground this season, which is top-5 in the league.
While the Raiders could counter this by attacking the Jets through the air (they’re middle-of-the-pack against the pass), the weather may not favor that. Forecast at MetLife Stadium shows a projected high of 45 degrees with a decent chance of rain. So, it’ll be strength versus strength, and it’ll be a priority for Oakland to win that matchup.
Contain Jets Blitz, Keep Carr Clean
Obviously, keeping quarterback Derek Carr clean is a priority every week, as he’s a pocket passer that thrives when you give him time to throw. The reason why I made it a “key” is because the Jets like to bring the heat. Per Pro Football Reference, New York blitzes on 39.9% of drop backs, which is 5th most in the NFL. They’ve knocked down the quarterback 32 times, tied for 8th most in the league.
Gruden, Carr and the OL are typically on top of containing pressure, but crowd noise and a blitz heavy defense can sometimes lead to disaster. It’ll be key for Oakland to communicate effectively, avoid turnovers and make the defense pay for bringing extra defenders.
Volume, Not Efficiency for Le’Veon Bell
After acquiring Le’Veon Bell this past offseason, Jets head coach Adam Gase has certainly attempted to pinch every penny of value from that massive running back contract. Bell is 10th in the NFL in carries (161) and 6th in running back receptions (46). His 207 total touches have combined for 817 scrimmage yards, an average of just 3.9 yards per touch. His rushing yards per attempt is 3.2, the lowest average in the NFL among players with at least 65 rush attempts.
Clearly, the numbers state that Bell’s production is more volume than efficiency.
The Raiders need to keep it that way.
If they can hold Bell down and keep his yards per touch at an inefficient number, it’ll put turnover prone quarterback Sam Darnold in third-and-long situations. In turn, it’ll give the Oakland pass rush favorable opportunities to tee off in those pass obvious down-and-distances, allowing Crosby and co. to continue their emergence.
Raiders 23, Jets 16