Jets vs. Raiders: Preview, predictions, what to watch for

Costello’s Call

The Jets offense should have more success against the Raiders than they did last week against the Dolphins defense. The problem is the Raiders offense is better than what the Jets faced last week against Miami. Derek Carr has a big day and the Raiders cruise.

Raiders 35, Jets 20

Marquee matchup

Raiders TE Darren Waller vs. Jets safeties Marcus Maye and Ashtyn Davis

The Raiders have several weapons on offense who can create problems for the Jets, but the one who might give Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams the biggest headache is Waller. The 28-year-old tight end has been extremely productive this year. He has a team-high 64 catches for 542 yards and five touchdowns. With running back Josh Jacobs sidelined with a sprained ankle, expect Raiders coach Jon Gruden to throw the ball a lot in this one. Waller figures to get a lot of targets.

“He is excellent, he’s one of the top [tight ends] in the league right now,” Williams said. “He’s very productive, you can see the comfort that [Derek] Carr has and finding him and he’s playing very well.”

Darren Waller and Marcus Maye
Darren Waller and Marcus Maye
Getty Images (2)

The Jets will surely attack Waller with a group effort, but it will largely fall on Maye and Davis, the Jets’ safety combination. Maye has had some good moments this year and is now the Jets’ only veteran in the secondary. Davis, the rookie third-round pick, became the starter last month and has been up and down. This will be a big test for him if he is matched up with Waller.

Four downs

Another line look: The Jets will be rolling out their seventh different starting offensive line this week. Pat Elflein will make his second start at left guard with Alex Lewis now on the non-football injury list. George Fant is expected to return at right tackle after missing last week with ankle and knee injuries.

This has been a problem all season with players going in and out of the lineup. Coach Adam Gase said the bigger adjustment has been when players have gone out during games. This week they have been able to prepare with the five starters.

“I think that’s probably more frustrating than anything,” Gase said of making in-game changes. “At least if you had a week’s worth of practice and you know, ‘Hey, here’s my five guys going out there,’ you feel way more confident. When you’re going, ‘Here’s my five guys. All right, this guy just went out, he’s going here. OK, now that guy’s back, now this guy got hurt. So, you’ve got to shift him around,’ … that’s where it gets a little dicey.”

Another happy opponent: The Raiders arrive in New Jersey having lost their last two games, hurting their playoff chances. But the Jets are every scuffling team’s favorite opponent. The Jets have faced seven teams coming off a loss this season and were just what was needed to cure whatever ailed that team. The Raiders were smoked by the Falcons last week, 43-6, so they should show up at MetLife Stadium focused on getting back on track. The Jets can’t seem to get a mediocre opponent riding a winning streak that they might be able to catch napping.

Old man gore: The Jets continue to ride 37-year-old Frank Gore as a big part of their offense. Gore had 21 touches last week against the Dolphins. With rookie La’Mical Perine on IR, expect the Jets to continue to feature Gore, who did rip off some nice runs last week.

“He loves the game,” Jets offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “He’s as football smart a player as I’ve ever been around, including the quarterbacks that I’ve had an opportunity to coach. He knows when a run is called based on the front, how the linebackers are, where the ball should go. And so that’s why Frank can do what he can do at this age and he works tremendously hard.”

Oh Henry: The Jets did a lot of work on Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III before the draft this year. The Jets were in the market for a receiver but decided to take tackle Mekhi Becton in the first round before grabbing Denzel Mims in the second round.

The Raiders made Ruggs the first receiver drafted, taking him No. 12 overall. Ruggs has blazing speed and is averaging 18.4 yards per reception this year, but only has 17 catches for 312 yards and one touchdown.

With the Jets starting rookie cornerbacks Lamar Jackson and Bryce Hall, the Raiders will have opportunities to throw the ball down the field. Ruggs should get some shots.