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Previewing the Jets’ opposition: Oakland Raiders

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NFL: Chicago Bears at Oakland Raiders Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets face perhaps their final chance to prolong the agony of this 2019 season on Sunday as they have a chance to pull within two games of one of the main contenders for a wild card berth with five to play.

The 6-4 Raiders have exceeded expectations this year and will be favorites, but coming all the way east for a 1pm ET kickoff has never been an easy proposition for west coast teams. However, they’ve already had four early games (and face another next weekend), so the adjustment should be easy for them to handle. For what it’s worth, they are 1-3 in those games, but did beat the Colts and also almost beat the Texans.

Quarterbacks

Three-time pro bowler Derek Carr is having one of the best seasons of his career, with career-bests in completion percentage (72%), yards per attempt (8.0) and quarterback rating (105.2).

Since dropping to 3-4, the Raiders have won three close games in a row, with Carr leading a game-winning drive in each of the last two games. The biggest difference this year, though, is that he’s only been sacked 15 times. That’s after going down 51 times in 2018. Carr does a good job of getting rid of the ball quickly.

Mike Glennon is listed as the backup and DeShone Kizer is the number three but neither has seen any action yet this year.

Offensive Line

As noted, the offensive line has been much more settled, even though Kolton Miller is the only starter to play in all 10 games. Last year, Miller gave up 16 sacks as a rookie, but he’s improved in 2019. However, he has given up a team-high four sacks and twice as much pressure as any other starter.

Offseason acquisitions Richie Incognito and Trent Brown have helped shore things up, although Incognito has been called for a team-high seven penalties.

Returning starters Rodney Hudson at safety and Gabe Jackson at right guard round out the starting five. Although Hudson was limited in practice during the week, as was Brown, both will start on Sunday.

Jordan Devey and Denzelle Good began the season as the starters at guard but Devey is now on injured reserve and Good hasn’t played any offensive snaps since week five.

Undrafted rookie center Andre James and reserve tackle David Sharpe also each started one game earlier this year but both struggled. Sharpe has been ruled out for Sunday anyway.

2018 third-rounder Brandon Parker started 12 games last year but gave up 10 sacks and hasn’t played much this season.

Finally, Erik Magnuson was poached from the Bills’ practice squad three weeks ago but hasn’t seen action yet.

Running Backs

Josh Jacobs, who was one of the Raiders’ first-round picks, has had a great rookie season. He’s averaging 4.8 yards per carry with seven touchdowns and has a chance to achieve a thousand-yard season on Sunday if he can rush for 77 yards against the Jets’ league-leading run defense.

Jacobs is backed up by Jalen Richard and DeAndré Washington, who are both averaging 3.5 yards or less per carry, but have combined for 33 catches off the bench.

Undrafted rookie fullback Alec Ingold is primarily a blocking back, but also gets the occasional offensive touch.

Receivers

The Raiders’ best pass catcher is tight end Darren Waller, who earned himself a big contract extension earlier this year. The converted wide receiver has 56 catches for almost 700 yards.

The Raiders’ depth chart lists early season trade acquisition Trevor Davis and big money offseason signing Tyrell Williams as their starters at the wide receiver position. However, slot specialist Hunter Renfrow paces all wide receivers with 33 catches.

Williams is the team’s big-play threat, with an average for yards-per-catch of over 15 yards and a team-high five touchdown receptions. Davis and reserves Zay Jones and Keelan Doss each have fewer than 10 receptions on the year.

2018 seventh-round pick Marcell Ateman has just two catches on the year, but both went for at least 35 yards. However, he seems to be behind the undrafted rookie Doss on the depth chart.

Fourth-round rookie Foster Moreau and Derek Carrier back up Waller at tight end. Moreau has been a decent red zone threat with four touchdowns.

Defensive Line

The Raiders surprised everyone when they took Clelin Ferrell ahead of some other top edge prospects with the fourth overall pick and he had been a major disappointment with just one sack in the first eight games. However, he broke out with 2.5 sacks against the Chargers two weeks ago.

His fellow rookie, fourth-rounder Maxx Crosby, has outproduced Ferrell with 6.5 sacks and also leads the team in tackles for loss and quarterback hits. Reserve Benson Mayowa leads the team with seven sacks though.

Veteran Josh Mauro has been getting plenty of rotational reps but has not contributed much. He hasn’t recorded a single pressure in almost 100 pass rush attempts.

Arden Key is now on injured reserve but Dion Jordan was recently reinstated from suspension and may be ready to contribute.

On the interior, the Raiders use a three-man rotation with 2018 draft picks Maurice Hurst and PJ Hall and veteran Johnathan Hankins. Hurst, a fifth-round pick, is a disruptive pass rusher with 2.5 sacks, but Hankins and Hall play the run well. Hall was a second-round selection.

Another veteran, Terrell McClain, is available as cover but hasn’t played much yet this year.

Linebackers

Having lost Vontaze Burfict to suspension, the Raiders have been using Tahir Whitehead and Nicholas Morrow in a full-time role at linebacker. Both have struggled in coverage, but Whitehead is good against the run and leads the team with 75 tackles.

The Raiders play almost exclusively in sub-packages so although Will Compton is listed as a starter, he hardly ever plays. Reserve Kyle Wilber hasn’t played much either.

This week, the Raiders added veteran Preston Brown who will probably move ahead of Compton and Wilber and may eventually take Morrow’s role.

Defensive Backs

The Raiders recently added another veteran on defense when they picked up veteran DJ Swearinger to shore up their depth at safety. First-round rookie Johnathan Abram had been placed on injured reserve early this season and, two weeks ago, starter Karl Joseph was as well.

It’s up in the air who will line up as the other starter alongside Erik Harris at the moment. Slot cornerback LaMarcus Joyner has been listed as the starting free safety for now, but he missed practice time with a hamstring injury this week and has been listed as questionable.

Harris has played well with three interceptions, including two pick-sixes, and a team-high eight passes defensed. If Joyner can’t go, Swearinger will probably start alongside Harris, but third safety Curtis Riley was a full-time starter for the Giants last year, so he’s also an option.

At cornerback, the Raiders felt confidence enough in starters Daryl Worley and second-round rookie Trayvon Mullen to trade former first-round pick Gareon Conley and each has held up well.

With Joyner out, Nevin Lawson handled the slot role last week. Joyner had been struggling anyway, with a team-high eight penalties. Two rookies, the undrafted Keisean Nixon and fourth-rounder Isaiah Johnson, haven’t played much off the bench.

Special Teams

Undrafted rookie punter AJ Cole has had a rocky start to his NFL career, giving up a league-high 259 return yards and ranking near the bottom of the league in net average. Kicker Daniel Carlson has missed three field goals and one extra point, but he’s been perfect on field goals from within 40 yards.

In the return game, Davis is listed as the primary return man on kicks and punts. He’s done quite well, with a 52-yard kick-off return earlier in the season and an average of over nine yards per punt return.

In kick coverage, reserve safety Dallin Leavitt is one of the Raiders’ top specialists, along with Nixon and Riley.