By Tyson Rauch
Ever think that an NFL team could face a “must win” situation in Week 1 of a 16-game season? Well, for the New York Jets that could very well be the case as the team faces a daunting schedule in Weeks 2 through 7 and cannot afford a slow start.
Raiders right team at the right time?
The New York Jets enter Sunday’s game against the Raiders as a team full of promise and potential. The offense, which will be led by second year quarterback Geno Smith, has added playmakers Eric Decker, Chris Johnson, and Jace Amaro. The defense is spearheaded by a ferocious front seven that features defensive linemen Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Damon Harrison along with emerging linebacker Demario Davis. The overall roster has been upgraded in terms of talent, which should trickle down to improved special teams play as well. So the pieces appear to be in place for Gang Green to have a competitive team; now it is a matter of putting them altogether on the field.
Enter the Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders appear to be just what the doctor ordered for the New York Jets as Oakland will be starting rookie Derek Carr at quarterback. With Carr making his first NFL appearance, the Raiders will look to build their offense around their running game. This game plan falls right into the hands of the Jets as Gang Green has one of the best run defenses in the AFC. Oakland could then try to open up their passing game, but the advantage would have to go to Rex Ryan and his defensive genius to confuse a rookie quarterback with coverages and blitzes.
Defensively, Oakland will try their best to slow down the Jets running game in order to put pressure on quarterback Geno Smith. This will be a challenge for the Raiders as the Jets have a dangerous backfield that includes backs Chris Johnson, Chris Ivory, and Bilal Powell. In terms of pass defense, Oakland will be able to generate some pressure with LaMarr Woodley, Justin Tuck, and Khalil Mack. It will be up to Geno Smith to identify the pass rush and make smart decisions with the football. If Smith is able to buy time in the pocket, he should be able to make some plays in the passing game.
Take advantage of the situation
On paper the Jets have favorable match-ups on both sides of the football, therefore the team has to maximize the opportunity in front of a fired up home crowd. In this day and age of the NFL, you must beat average teams at home if you want to have any shot at making the postseason. Furthermore, a convincing season opening win would pay huge dividends in terms of building confidence and chemistry. Gang Green will be facing six of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Weeks 2 through 7, so there will not be a lot of wiggle room in terms of performance.
The Raiders are an average team, traveling cross country, starting a rookie quarterback. Yes, this is a must-win for the New York Jets.
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Tyson Rauch is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.