The New York Jets travel cross-country to take on the Oakland Raiders in a game that pits one of the League’s top rush defenses against one of the League’s top rush offenses. The Jets are coming off a thorough thrashing of the Jags at home, while Oakland blew a 21-3 halftime lead at Buffalo, giving up a staggering 35 second half points to lose 38-35 at the end of the game.
The game opened with the Jets as a 3 ½ point road favorite. A few books have come down to an even 3 on the current NFL lines, although most are still posting the starting number. The Jets are a proven road winner, while Oakland struggles against non-AFC West teams. Consider backing the road favorite in this one.
First things first. Both sides have some injuries that need to be mentioned before making our case for the NFL football picks today. The Jets all-Pro center Nick Mangold is out. Mangold suffered a high ankle sprain last week and did not even make the trip to Oakland. This will end Mangold’s 82 game consecutive start streak. Rookie Colin Baxter, who replaced Mangold for three quarters last week, will get the start.
The Raiders have potentially bigger problems. Jason Campbell, Darren McFadden, Jacoby Ford, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Sebastian Janikowski are all dinged up and listed as questionable. It looks like everyone but Ford will probably play, but it would be a stretch to say any of them will be at full strength.
Since Felix Jones’ 1 yard td run with 14:50 left in the fourth quarter, the Jets have played outstanding football. They rallied back against the Cowboys, capitalizing on Dallas mistakes en route to a 17 point fury to steal the game from the jaws of defeat. They followed that up with a dominating performance against a Jags team with serious quarterback issues. For the game, the Jets D limited Jacksonville to 203 total yards and picked off 4 Luke McCown passes.
Oakland finished 8-8 last year, but 6 of those wins were against the overrated AFC West. In fact, their week 1 win, again, was against a divisional foe, the hapless Denver Broncos. That means against the rest of the League over the past two seasons, Oakland is 2-9 straight up.
I like that the Jets play so well on the road. In addition to earning AFC championship game berths by traveling, New York is an impressive 11-5 on the road in the regular season under Rex Ryan, also going 4-2 in the playoffs. This is an experienced, tough team that doesn’t mind playing on the road.
Additionally, I think the Jets rush D is better than the Raiders rush O. Oakland’s offensive line has been overhauled from last year, and I’m not convinced they’ll be as good. Games against Denver and Buffalo aren’t great indicators of the Oakland’s progression on this front. But battling Sione Pouha in particular should be telling. Bart Scott is one the NFL’s best cleanup artists at linebacker and the secondary is loaded with talent. This is a very good defense.
I’m afraid the Raiders’ defense will have trouble, too. I don’t like that they yielded more than 200 yards on the ground AND through the air to the Bills. The Jets have had trouble running the ball so far, but this might be the game they get on track. Regardless, Mark Sanchez has good weapons in Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress, not to mention Dustin Keller. I don’t think Oakland has the weapons on either side of the ball to keep this within a field goal.
Like always, the best NFL plays for Sunday are with the sharps at Maddux Sports. But for a free pick, consider backing a good road team. Lay the points. Best of luck.