The New York Jets and Oakland Raiders couldn’t be on further ends of the spectrum entering their Week 2 matchup. While the Raiders looked like a Super Bowl contender in their opening road win over the Titans, the Jets could end up being the worst team in the NFL in 2017.
New York lost to Buffalo 21-12 last Sunday in a game that didn’t feature many positives. The Jets managed just one touchdown and three field goals, finishing with 214 total yards, including only 38 rushing. Defensively, New York gave up 408 yards to the Bills, 190 of those coming on the ground.
Sunday will be the fourth time in the last five seasons that the Jets and Raiders have played each other, with the last meeting taking place in 2015. In that game, Derek Carr threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns as Oakland won 34-20 at home. Overall, the Raiders hold a 24-19-2 advantage in their series (including playoff games) with the Jets.
New York at Oakland
Kickoff: Sunday, Sept. 17, 4:05 p.m. ET
TV Channel: CBS
Spread: Oakland -13.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Marshawn Lynch
In his Raiders debut against the Titans last week, Lynch was solid in his return after not playing at all in 2016. He finished with 76 yards on 18 carries and added a 16-yard catch. His 4.2 yards per carry may not jump off of the page, but consider that he managed just 3.8 yards per attempt in seven games with Seattle in 2015.
Last week against Buffalo, New York gave up 190 rushing yards, including 110 to LeSean McCoy. As a team, the Bills averaged 4.5 yards per carry and ran it 42 times compared to 55 total plays for the Jets’ offense. If Lynch is able to have similar success on the ground Sunday, it could be another long day for New York’s defense.
2. Josh McCown
McCown struggled in his first game as the Jets’ starting quarterback, not that he got a lot of help from his teammates. He finished 26-of-39 for 187 yards and two interceptions for a passer rating of 56.3. He also was sacked once.
McCown must play better if the Jets want to keep close to Oakland, particularly because of the Raiders’ offensive firepower. McCown’s not the only one who needs to play better, starting with the offensive line and running game, but the he definitely needs to take care of the football when he is pressured. Oakland’s defense tied for second in the NFL last season with 14 takeaways on fumbles, led by Khalil Mack’s five forced fumbles and three recoveries.
3. Raiders’ defense
Oakland’s defense was far from dominant last season, finishing 26th in total defense and 20th in scoring, but the Raiders got the job done last week in Tennessee. Oakland held Marcus Mariota and the Titans in check for most of the game, but especially in the second half.
Nursing a slim 13-10 halftime lead, Oakland did a better job on third down (Titans were just 2-for-8 in the second half) and limited Tennessee to a pair of field goals over the final two quarters.
The Titans finished with basically the same amount of yards as the Raiders (350 vs. 359), but cashed in just one of three trips in the red zone and scored just one touchdown in the 26-16 loss. Considering the Jets’ offensive woes in the Week 1, Oakland’s defense should be able to build off of a solid opening showing.
Oakland is better than New York in every aspect imaginable. It is hard to imagine the Jets keeping the game close unless the Raiders begin to turn the football over.
Expect Oakland’s defense, particularly reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack, to have a huge game against Josh McCown and his shaky offensive line. Constant pressure could result in early mistakes by the Jets’ offense.
Once the Raiders have the game in hand, expect to see a heavy dose of Marshawn Lynch, but that’s after Derek Carr and Amari Cooper get in on the action.
Prediction: Raiders 37, Jets 12
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.