After a complete second half implosion last Sunday in Buffalo, the Oakland Raiders will look to pick up the pieces against a smash-mouth New York Jets team eyeing the AFC East crown.
However after one half in Buffalo last week it was looking like it was the Raiders who were the class of the AFC. They manhandled Buffalo on both sides of the football, and looked poised for a surprising 2-0 start. That said, it all failed to materialize as the Bills stormed back in front of the home crowd, pulling off a dramatic last minute victory. Though the Raiders now sit at 1-1, and should be perfect, both the coaches and players know they are a talented, hungry team that should be a handful throughout the season. Talented running back Darren McFadden has been stellar in the first two weeks, and it will be interesting to see if such levels of success can be replicated against a solid Jets` defense.
New York is coming off a convincing victory over an atrocious Jacksonville Jaguars squad in Week 2. After some bumps in the road in Week 1 against Dallas, it has been smooth sailing for the Rex Ryan led team. However, their first road trip of the 2011 campaign is surely going to be a tough one for them. The Raiders are high on confidence right now, and without Pro-Bowl centre Nick Mangold snapping the ball to Mark Sanchez, it will be interesting to see how the Jets` offensive line holds up against Oakland`s ageless defensive tackle Richard Seymour.
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SPREAD & TOTAL:
New York Jets -3 (-120) at Oakland Raiders +3 (+100)
Over 41 (-110) & Under 41 (-110)
Note: The Jets opened as 3.5 point road favourites for this game, however recently money has come in on the Raiders and forced the line down to three at various sportsbooks. It`s seeming like that trend will continue up until kick-off on Sunday.
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JETS vs RAIDERS PICK:
Expect both teams to utilize solid ground attacks on offense. The Raiders have been immensely successful so far this season simply giving the ball to the man known as Run DMC and watching McFadden work his magic. However, look for this outing to be different against a beastly Jets defense. The Jets have been great in defending the run and have only allowed one 100-yard rusher over their last 25 games. McFadden is certainly a great back, but look for struggles on Sunday.
Meanwhile for the Jets to be successful they need to keep the ball out of error-prone quarterback Mark Sanchez`s hands and dish it off to their two-pronged running attack in Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson. Coach Rex Ryan predicted Greene would end the campaign with as many as 300 carries, and though he isn`t quite on pace for that total it shows he`s fully committed to his team`s ground attack. Though both Jets` runners haven`t blown teams away as of yet, the Raiders` have really struggled to stop the run early this season currently sitting 27th in the league in that regard, allowing 127 yards per game. Last time these two teams met, the Jets took it in a 38-0 romp, which saw Jets` rush for a mind-boggling 316 yards on 54 carries. While it`s highly unlikely the Jets duplicate that outing, look for them to exploit Oakland`s weakness down the middle and use the running game to get them to 3-0. Mangold`s injury does complicate matters, but his replacement Colin Baxter is a competent rookie anxious to prove himself on the big stage.
The Jets are well-aware of the importance of this game. This is a very winnable road contest, preceding two crucial match-ups in Baltimore and in New England. If they fail in the Bay Area come Sunday, it could make for tough sledding for the Jets over the next few weeks. Expect a focused New York team to realize the necessity of winning this game, and ride a heavy running attack to victory. Historically, the Jets have dominated this series against the spread, holding victories in three of the past four meetings. Look for more of the same come Sunday.