By Tyson Rauch
On Sunday the New York Jets kickoff their 2014 campaign against the Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium (1 p.m. EST). The Jets enter the season opener as a young team with potential while the Raiders are looking to stray away from their losing ways after spending excessively in free agency.
Gang Green will enter this game as a heavy favorite, but is there a chance that Oakland could shock Rex Ryan and his Jets?
First start for Carr
One of the biggest question marks for the Oakland Raiders is at the quarterback position where Derek Carr is set to make his rookie debut. Carr is making his first NFL start after veteran Matt Schaub disappointed the Raiders with his poor arm strength and a nagging elbow injury. Oakland’s second round draft pick is a tremendous athlete with a big arm which will give the silver and black a chance to win with the vertical passing game.
A motivated MJD?
The Raiders added a new weapon to their backfield when they signed veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew to a three-year deal. MJD entered training camp in the best shape of his life and is adamant about resurrecting his career after a disappointing departure from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jones-Drew will be a perfect compliment to Darren McFadden as both running backs have big play ability and can catch the ball out of the backfield.
Improved pass rush?
The Oakland Raiders made a concerted effort to improve their pass rush with the signing of veterans LaMarr Woodley and Justin Tuck along with drafting Khalil Mack. The Raiders should be able to generate significant pressure off the edge which will help the team hide some issues in the secondary.
Plan of attack
On offense the Oakland Raiders will look to establish the running game in order to protect their rookie quarterback. If the running game stalls the Raiders will then spread out the New York Jets defense and try to take advantage of a secondary that has been decimated by injuries. The Jets defensive backfield will more than likely feature three new starters as Antonio Allen and Darrin Walls will play cornerback, while Calvin Pryor and Dawan Landry man the safety positions. Look for Oakland to test Allen as the former safety gets his first game action as a cornerback.
Defensively the Raiders are going to sell out to stop the run in order to force Geno Smith and the Jets offense to beat them with the passing game. This will be no easy task for Oakland as the Jets have a solid offensive line and a formidable backfield that includes Chris Johnson, Chris Ivory, and Bilal Powell.
No surprise at MetLife
The Oakland Raiders should be an improved team in 2014, but will fall short in their season opener against the New York Jets. On paper there are several match-ups that favor the Jets including facing a rookie quarterback in his NFL debut. You just know that Rex Ryan will dial up all types of exotic blitzes and schemes that will confuse Derek Carr. Gang Green should be able to dominate the battles in the trenches and will play with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm in front of a fired up home crowd. I would not be surprised to see the Jets walk away with a double digit victory with Geno Smith and Chris Johnson garnering most of the headlines.
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Tyson Rauch is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.