Sam Darnold and the New York Jets look for their first win of the season against the Las Vegas Raiders at MetLife Stadium in Week 13.
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—This is a tricky one. The two men with the most influence on the Las Vegas Raiders’ sideline are eerily similar to the two who’ll be on the opposite side Sunday afternoon.
Jon Gruden (offensively) and Paul Guenther (defensively) coach with an old-school mindset that hasn’t yet fully caught up with the new ways of the NFL. Instead of heavily-influenced collegiate principles, Gruden and Guenther mirror Adam Gase and Gregg Williams in a lot of ways.
Considering Sam Darnold and the New York Jets knocked off the very same team in the very same place a year ago, fans are shaking in their boots right now while they’re coming off usually sound sleep with Trevor Lawrence dancing in their heads.
Where, When, All-Time
- New York Jets (0-11)
- Las Vegas Raiders (6-5)
- NFL, Week 13, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
- MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
The Raiders are a strange team. After winning three in a row—running their record to 6-3—they nearly pulled off the upset against the defending champs until Patrick Mahomes did his heroic thing. Then, they allowed themselves to get steamrolled by the Atlanta Falcons last week.
The Jets … well, everybody knows.
The Raiders still lead the all-time series 25-20-2. Interestingly, it felt as though the Jets were always playing in Oakland during the Herm Edwards era. There was the John Hall game-winner in 2001, the road playoff defeat a week later, and then two more losses during the magical 2002 season out west. In fact, the Jets played the Raiders on the road in seven-straight games from 1999 to 2003.
These days we’ve seen a reversal of scenery. After a MetLife game a year ago, the two teams will double it up this Sunday. It’ll push the total number of MetLife Stadium games between the two teams to four in the past six games.
Be back soon 🛫#LVvsNYJ | #TakeFlight pic.twitter.com/OPeA2bYZAP
— New York Jets (@nyjets) December 5, 2020
The Jets will wear their all-greens for this one.
Green on green for Week 13.#LVvsNYJ | @TarellBasham pic.twitter.com/zgSDhQ083A
— New York Jets (@nyjets) December 4, 2020
- Money line: Raiders -360 | Jets +280
- Spread: Raiders -7.5 (-110) | Jets +7.5 (-110)
- Over/Under: 46.5 (O: -110, U: -110)
Nothing’s changed in this department. Unless the spread is over 20, no straight-thinking individual could possibly think about taking the Jets. Nonetheless, this one could get interesting by the time it’s all said and done.
New York comes into the contest relatively healthy—other than the guys on IR, of course. Alex Lewis will miss the game after being placed on the NFI list this past week. As long as Pat Elflein and George Fant dress, Darnold should have four of his five regular offensive linemen in front of him.
Where things get really interesting in this one is when the Raiders’ injuries are examined. Running back Josh Jacobs (ankle) and safety Johnathan Abram (knee) will not dress.
Although Abram hasn’t been overly impressive this season, he will be missed. The Raiders cannot afford to be without any of their defensive backs. Without a great pass rush, every man is required.
Under normal circumstances, losing a back in the NFL isn’t a backbreaker. In Gruden’s very specific power-rushing game that’s tailored to Jacobs, it’ll hurt more than the average running back injury.
Keys to the Game
Let the receivers fly
The Raiders’ two good-looking young corners have shown promise, but they’re simply not playing at a good enough level right now. Denzel Mims, Breshad Perriman and Jamison Crowder should be let loose. Allow them plenty of space to beat the Raiders’ corners—something that could help Darnold against man coverage.
Guenther is a throwback like Gregg Williams in the sense that he believes the rushing attack should be shut down first and foremost. It oftentimes hurts the pass defense. Gase needs to let Darnold let it fly early.
Attack Derek Carr
Gregg Williams’s aggression has declined the moment he realized he didn’t have the ammo on his side. Instead of blitzing heavily—a Williams modus operandi—he’s played softer, bend-but-don’t-break-type looks.
Considering Derek Carr has struggled against pressure in the past, this might be the week to let it loose. Send Ashtyn Davis off the edge in plentiful fashion and hope Bryce Hall gets it done on one of the three wideouts while Marcus Maye ranges deep.
- New York Jets 20, Las Vegas Raiders 27
Expect Mims to snag his first career touchdown with Henry Ruggs III looking on from the other side, but it won’t be enough.
I can see this one as a high-scoring affair with Darnold and the Jets busting out a bit offensively. Guenther loves softer, 2-deep coverages (especially on early downs). This favors Darnold. Unfortunately, the Jets defense won’t do enough to stop Carr and Gruden.