This Sunday, the 6-5 Las Vegas Raiders will head to MetLife Stadium to take on the winless New York Jets. Certainly, this is no marquee matchup, and quite frankly one that on paper should be an easy win for the Raiders. After all, they are playoff contenders, not first overall pick favorites like Adam Gase‘s Jets.
However, do not expect the Jets to go down easy. Yes, the team may be without a win and may very well not win again until 2021. But the team has been playing better in recent weeks, and the stars are aligning for their defense to give the Raiders a hard time. Specifically, in order for Derek Carr to lead the Raiders to a win, he will need to take over the game with his arm.
Why Derek Carr Will Need to Throw His Way Past the New York Jets
The Run Game Will Not Come Easy
Right off the bat, the Raiders will need to adjust to the loss of star running back Josh Jacobs. Having suffered an ankle injury in their blowout loss to the Atlanta Falcons last week, he will be out against the Jets. That being said, the team will be turning to a committee approach, with Devontae Booker, Jalen Richard, and Theo Riddick. While it is promising the trio all average over 5.5 yards per carry, rushing the football will not be coming easy against Gang Green.
The Jets run defense may not be as strong as it was a year ago, but it still ranks just outside the top 10 in the league. In large part because of a pair of young defenders along the interior who are on the rise. Former sixth-round pick Folorunso Fatukasi has emerged as the league’s best interior run defender per PFF, with a 90.4 grade. Meanwhile, Quinnen Williams, the third overall pick just a year ago, is having a breakout season. Per ESPN’s Seth Walder, he is the top defensive tackle in run-stop win rate. Simply put, the duo is not going to give Las Vegas’ backups any easy lanes.
Jets Secondary Will Have Their Hands Full
With the run game likely not coming easy to the Raiders, quarterback Derek Carr is going to need to take advantage of a youthful Jets secondary. Injuries have Gang Green turning to rookies Bryce Hall and Lamar Jackson to start once again. The pair have been solid thus far, although will face a challenge covering the Raiders’ receivers. Luckily, they will get help from Marcus Maye and Ashtyn Davis at safety. Maye, who currently is the fourth-highest graded safety this season, and Davis is improving with every rep.
Then again, Carr has had a great season. He owns a 69.5 completion percentage, averaging just over 250 yards per game with 19 touchdowns, and only four interceptions. This comes in large part because of a plethora of weapons at his disposal. Tight end Darren Waller stands as their leading receiver, with Nelson Agholor being the main red zone target with six touchdowns. Hunter Renfrow has had an excellent season in the slot, and Henry Ruggs III flashed his deep threat ability on multiple occasions.
Quick Pass Will Be Key
This season, New York has done a good job keeping the big plays to a minimum this season. If the Raiders cannot run the ball, the quick pass game will be vital. Their receiving corps has a variety of different skills, making the Jets’ cornerbacks focused on stopping the different speed and physical play of each. And they will not be getting much help from their pass rush either, as the Jets rank 25th in sacks this season. This Sunday, the Jets’ secondary is going to be very busy against Carr and the Raiders’ pass game.
Last Word on Why Derek Carr Will Need to Throw His Way Past the New York Jets
Both teams are coming off of disappointing losses last Sunday and looking to rebound. The Jets may be playing better in recent weeks, but they are still without a win with five games to go. This is a game that the Raiders must win. Sitting at 6-5, they should be able to take care of business, without or without a run game. That is unless they want the Jets to upset and send them on a downward spiral for a second straight season.