Might be one of those years.
In Week 11, the Raiders got the win they were looking for. Houston took down Indy to gain control of the AFC South. Why does that matter? Because the Raiders own the head-to-head tie-breaker against the Colts – but not against the Texans. That helps them in potential wild-card ties.
Now the Raiders must take care of business Sunday against the New York Jets. The Raiders are favored by 2½ or 3, depending on where you do business.
To some this might look easy. But trust me, it won’t be. NFL teams are never as bad as you think they are. Well, the Cincinnati Bengals might be an exception. But think Atlanta Falcons for a clearer picture of what I mean.
For most of the year the Jets have been a mess, but you cannot overstate how much quarterback Sam Darnold’s battle with mono set this franchise back. When his passer rating is 90 or higher the Jets are 3-0, including the last two weeks against the Giants and the Redskins.
A week ago against Washington, Darnold and the Jets received the opening kickoff and quickly drove 75 yards for the touchdown that put them ahead to stay. Studying the drive puts the Raiders on high alert that coach Adam Gase trusts Darnold. He scripted first-down passes, then Darnold threw on second and one and dialed up a 20-yard touchdown pass.
Gase also sprinkled in plays involving Le’Veon Bell, and that is significant for Sunday’s game. No, Bell isn’t the same threat that you remember from his Steeler years, but he possesses a receiving threat out of the backfield, and Raider linebackers are suspect in that area.
I believe the Raiders will need at least 27 points to beat the Jets (o/u 47½), which means handling defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and his outstanding young safety Jamal Adams. Adams has five sacks in the Jets’ last two games, both wins. Williams’s “D” allows only 79 rushing yards a game, best in the NFL.
The Raiders’ talented rookie running back Josh Jacobs will be looking for daylight wherever he can find it, and he’ll need help from his buddy – fellow rookie fullback Alec Ingold – to lead the way.
Meaningful Raider games in November. How good is this?
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Any teaser you play this week must include the Green Bay Packers. They are catching 3½ Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers in a showdown between the top two seeds in the NFC. The Packers already have impressive road wins in Dallas and Kansas City. The 49ers have played only one team currently in the top six in either conference, and they lost that game to Seattle in overtime. The Packers plus 9½ or 10½ seems a bargain.
Cash some tickets this week, because that’s what it’s all about!