The Raiders have been one of the most unpredictable teams in the league this year. They almost swept the Chiefs but lost by 37 to the Falcons last week. They head off on a cross-country trip to the east coast for an early game against a team who beat them 34-3 a year ago. Could the Jets pull the upset here?
Derek Carr is in his seventh year as the Raiders starter and is posting a career-high quarterback rating of 104.9 as we enter this game. Carr has 19 touchdown passes and just four interceptions.
However, he has thrown an interception in each of the last two games and lost three fumbles against Atlanta.
Nathan Peterman is listed as the number two, but has thrown just five passes this year. Former second overall pick Marcus Mariota is the number three.
The Raiders have had good continuity on the interior this year with center Rodney Hudson, and guards Denzelle Good and Gabe Jackson playing all 11 games. Veteran Richie Incognito started the year off at left guard but injured his Achilles early in week two and these three have been together since then. The trio have given up just one sack between them, although Good leads the team with five penalties.
Kolton Miller and Trent Brown should have been the starters at tackle but Brown has barely played after spending most of the season on the Covid-19 reserve list and experiencing some other medical complications. He’s been activated but isn’t expected to play on Sunday. However, the Raiders are otherwise at full strength on the offensive line despite several players missing practice time this week.
Miller, who has also missed two starts, is probably the team’s best pass protector, with just one sack surrendered this year.
Sam Young is currently listed as the starter at right tackle, although Brandon Parker has started the last two games there, having previously started twice at left tackle in place of Miller. Young had earlier started five games at right tackle, surrendering three sacks.
Veteran Patrick Omameh brings a lot of experience to the bench but guard John Simpson is a rookie and Andre James, an undrafted free agent last year, has just one career start.
After rushing for 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns last year, Josh Jacobs has a shot at eclipsing those numbers this year, although he’s been ruled out for Sunday’s game. Jacobs already has nine touchdowns and almost 800 rushing yards, despite averaging less than four yards per carry. He’s also exceeded last year’s total with 27 receptions.
Backups Jalen Richard and Devontae Booker have contributed well off the bench as they’ve each averaged over 5.5 yards per carry and combined for four rushing touchdowns and 23 catches. However, it will be interesting to see how they cope with an increased workload now that Jacobs is ruled out.
Theo Riddick was just added back to the active roster after a spell on the Covid-19 reserve list and could be active with Jacobs out.
Fullback Alec Ingold is a versatile blocking back who also has 10 receptions and occasionally gets carries in short yardage situations.
The Raiders’ top pass catcher is tight end Darren Waller, who is coming off a breakout season that saw him catch 90 passes for over 1,100 yards. Waller has 64 catches this year but his production is down as he’s only averaging 8.5 yards per catch. He does have a career-high five touchdown catches though.
Hunter Renfro has been the Raiders’ most productive wide receiver after Tyrell Williams suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in camp. Renfro, a good possession option out of the slot, has 38 catches.
Rookies Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards only have 25 catches between them but they’ve shown some big play capabilities as they’re both averaging over 16 yards per catch. The speedster Ruggs was the 12th overall pick in April, while Edwards provides good size.
Veterans Nelson Agholor and Zay Jones also contribute, with Agholor leading the team with six touchdown receptions.
The experienced Jason Witten made his return to the field after a year in the broadcast booth and has two touchdown catches, including a late go-ahead score against the Chiefs two weeks ago. Foster Moreau and Derek Carrier also provide depth at tight end but have just five catches between them.
The Raiders have built their defensive end position via the draft over the past few years with Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby starting and Arden Key backing up. They also signed Carl Nassib to a three-year deal in the offseason.
Although Ferrell was a high first round pick, it’s Crosby that’s emerged as the team’s most productive pass rusher. He has six sacks, while no other Raiders player even has two. Nassib has contributed 1.5 sacks, an interception and four passes defensed, but Key and Ferrell have played nine games each with no sacks between them despite combining for 6.5 last season.
The Raiders also recently claimed former first round pick Takk McKinley, only to then place him on injured reserve immediately.
On the inside, they have had two veterans starting - Jonathan Hankins and Maliek Collins. Maurice Hurst - a 2018 fifth-round pick - and Daniel Ross have been backing up.
However, they’ll be shorthanded this week with Collins out and Hurst listed as questionable. They may opt to elevate David Irving from the practice squad for extra depth.
Hankins is solid against the run but they shouldn’t miss Collins much because he has graded out poorly. Hurst is the team’s most disruptive interior rusher as he has contributed five quarterback hits in seven games.
At linebacker, starters Nick Kwiatkoski, Nicholas Morrow and Corey Littleton have all played extensively and are second, third and fourth on the team in tackles respectively.
Kwiatkoski is excellent in coverage but Littleton has graded out poorly this season. Morrow is second on the team with seven passes defensed.
Reserves Kyle Wilbur and Raekwon McMillan haven’t seen much action off the bench so far this season.
Trayvon Mullen and Damon Arnette are listed as the starters on the outside. Mullen has been their best cornerback this year with 11 passes defensed but has been listed as questionable after missing Friday’s practice due to illness. The rookie Arnette is still finding his feet.
LaMarcus Joyner has been the team’s primary slot corner until a few weeks ago when he landed on the Covid-19 reserve list from which he’s just been activated. Nevin Lawson, who was starting regularly on the outside, has been filling that slot role while he was out.
Reserves Isaiah Johnson, Keisean Nixon and Amik Robertson haven’t played much and have all struggled when called upon. Of the three, Johnson has played the most, but he’s listed as questionable for Sunday.
Erik Harris and Johnathan Abram are listed as the starters at safety but Jeff Heath actually leads the team with three interceptions, despite only starting three games.
Abram leads the team with 63 tackles and also has two interceptions, but has had a rough year in coverage. He’s been ruled out for this game, giving Heath another chance to start.
The fourth safety, Dallin Leavitt, is basically just a special teamer.
Kicker Daniel Carlson and punter AJ Cole have done a solid job this year. Carlson has only missed three kicks and Cole has averaged 44 yards per punt with just 82 return yards all season.
In the return game, Renfro handles punts and Richard handles kickoffs, with Ruggs backing up both spots.
In kick coverage, the Raiders usually get some good contributions from starters like Harris, Mullen and Abram. McMillan, Nixon and Wilber also contribute well. Nixon is their primary gunner.