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Raiders fall in ATL

Brynn Anderson / Associated Press

Atlanta Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell (24) hits Las Vegas Raiders running back Devontae Booker (23) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Atlanta.

• Who: Raiders (6-5) at Jets (0-11)

• When: 10 a.m.

• MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

• TV: KLAS Channel 8

• Radio: Raider Nation Radio 920 AM, KOMP 92.3

• Betting line: Raiders -8.5, over/under 45

If there’s any NFL team opponents can safely overlook this season without suffering any consequences, it’s the winless Jets. If there’s any NFL team most unlikely to overlook the Jets and instead be wary of them, it’s the reeling Raiders. Las Vegas can ill afford any slip-ups the rest of the way after getting blown out 43-6 at Atlanta last week, but the Raiders’ caution with the Jets goes deeper than that. They’re the rare, if not only, team to have seen the Jets at their best. The biggest win of much-maligned New York coach Adam Gase’s two-year tenure came last year when the Jets waxed the visiting Raiders 34-3. That loss touched off a four-game losing streak late in the year that sunk the Raiders’ playoff chances. A loss to the Jets this year would mark the Raiders’ third straight defeat and once again all but capsize any postseason aspirations.

Favorable matchup: Raiders’ receiving corps vs. Jets’ defensive backfield

From the moment the Jets traded Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams to the Seahawks for two first-round picks shortly before the season, they were regarded as having the worst secondary in football. It’s certainly played out to be true on the field as opposing passing games have torched New York on a weekly basis. The Jets start two rookie cornerbacks (fifth-round pick Bryce Hall and undrafted Lamar Jackson) and rotate in a third (undrafted Javelin Guidry). Although they’ve shown flashes of promise, the trio is undeniably green and at a major disadvantage to talented receiving corps. Despite a lack of star power, the Raiders have a talented receiving corps. Hunter Renfrow’s route-running, Darren Waller’s physicality, Nelson Agholor’s shifty footwork and Henry Ruggs’ blazing speed are among the factors that should cause New York problems.

• “I’ll pump the brakes on them being a winless team and just reiterate that they kicked the crap out of us last year. We went there and they beat the dog out of us. So, if we don’t bring it, they’ll do the same thing again.” -Quarterback Derek Carr on the Jets

• “They derailed our season last year so what an opportunity for us to be able to go there and get some redemption.” -Receiver Hunter Renfrow on the Jets

• “You ever go to the dentist and have to have your teeth pulled out? It’s pretty much like that. This was tough, man.” -Coach Jon Gruden on breaking down film of the team’s loss to the Falcons.

• “They’re still broke. I’m trying to push them together as fast as possible and they aren’t cooperating. It’s just a little adversity. I think everyone is playing with something right now.” -Fullback Alec Ingold on two broken ribs that have yet to sideline him for a full game

Problematic matchup: Raiders’ run game vs. Jets’ rush defense

Stopping the run is the only major area where the Jets are an above-average team. New York ranks fifth in the NFL in allowing 3.8 yards per rushing attempt, often controlling the line of scrimmage even as it struggles on deeper levels. Defensive linemen Quinnen Williams and Folorunso Fatukasi have most likely been the Jets’ two best players on the year. The Raiders have rushed for a total of only 129 yards during their two-game losing streak, at a clip of less than 3.6 yards per rush. They’ve talked about getting back on track by re-establishing their run game, but this could be a difficult starting point. Not only has Las Vegas’ offensive line been better pass blocking than run blocking all year, but lead running back Josh Jacobs also hurt his knee against the Falcons and will not play. Devontae Booker, who averages 5.5 yards per rush, will carry the workload for the first time since his rookie year in 2016.

Gamebreaker: Defensive end Clelin Ferrell

Ferrell missed the past two games after testing positive for coronavirus, which he says zapped him of some of his conditioning despite his best efforts to stay in shape amid an onslaught of symptoms. He should be back against the Jets, and there won’t be much time for an acclimation period. The Raiders will need the defensive end they drafted fourth overall last year to produce immediately. That’s because they’re banged up on the defensive line, with starting tackle Maliek Collins added to injured reserve and key backup Maurice Hurst limited in practice with ankle and calf injuries. Ferrell lines up on the outside when everyone is healthy, but he’s been just as effective when injuries and tweaks have found him on the interior. He might be forced to play at least some defensive tackle again in his return.

Big Number: 32

That’s where Jets quarterback Sam Darnold ranks among qualified NFL quarterbacks in both QBR and passer rating. It’s been a nightmare season for the third-year passer out of USC with Gase admitting earlier this week that he’s failed to help Darnold develop as much as he was tasked with upon taking the head-coaching job. New York is widely expected to move on from Darnold, who’s thrown eight interceptions to only three touchdowns, with a high pick in next year’s NFL Draft. Las Vegas’ pass defense has been one of its weaknesses this year, but it had its best game of the year against the player just ahead of Darnold at the bottom of both aforementioned advanced stat categories (Denver’s Drew Lock). The Raiders will need to similarly deny Darnold from gaining any confidence and take advantage of his frequent mistakes.

Best Bet: Frank Gore under 65.5 rushing yards

Everyone loves the veteran Gore, who currently ranks as the third-leading rusher in NFL history with 15,868 career yards. They love him so much that his betting numbers have been knocked out of whack. No 37-year-old running behind an offensive line as leaky as New York’s should be expected to put up this much production. Sure, Gore broke loose for 74 yards last week in a 20-3 loss to the Dolphins but that was the first time all year he eclipsed 65.5. The game script also doesn’t project to be in his favor here, as the Raiders appear likely to jump out to an early lead and employ a defensive game plan that dares Darnold to take risks with a mediocre arsenal of receivers. Gore needs 758 more yards to pass Walter Payton for second on the all-time rushing list, but he’s not going to cut much into the margin against the Raiders.

Article written by #LasVegasSun