The Oakland Raiders needed to come home, and they took full advantage of all the amenities of being back in the Bay Area.
After a brutal, six-week stretch on the road, Head Coach Jon Gruden and Co. returned home, and went a perfect 3-0 back at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum to launch themselves into playoff contention in the AFC.
Now, after nearly a month home, the boys are back on the road, this time with a Week 12 clash against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium next up on the schedule.
Kickoff is scheduled for 10:00 AM PT; here are six things to watch once the game gets underway.
1. Can the offense stay crisp?
Most importantly, the Silver and Black beat the Cincinnati Bengals last week 17-10, but by no means was it the team’s prettiest outing of 2019.
The offensive line uncharacteristically gave up three sacks, Josh Jacobs fumbled in the red zone, effectively taking points of the board for the Raiders, and Derek Carr threw his first interception since Week 3… All that, and the Raiders still beat the Bengals, which really is a testament to much the Silver and Black have evolved throughout the season.
As good as last Sunday was, I’m excited to see if those mistakes will be cleaned up this week against the Jets, a team that actually boasts a pretty decent defense – particularly against the run.
Was last week’s outing a bit of an apparition? I think so, but nevertheless, I’ll be keeping an eye on the offense to see if they can clean up the mistakes and put together a quality 60-minute effort.
2. How do you limit Jamal Adams?
We’ve collectively talked about Jamal Adams a lot this week, and for good reason.
Not only does the former LSU Tiger have the ability to wreak havoc on a receiving corps, but with five sacks in the past two weeks, Adams is rushing the passer better than a bunch of defensive linemen.
From Jon Gruden, to Derek Carr, and really everyone with an eye on the offensive side of the football for the Silver and Black, they’ve all essentially said the same thing – if you want to have any type of success moving the ball, you have to figure out a way to neutralize No. 33.
I’m sure a lot of that pressure will fall on the shoulders of Josh Jacobs and the running backs, but with a dude like Jamal Adams flying around, it’s going to be all hands on deck in trying to keep him out of the ballgame.
Oh, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Adams’ two best games have coincided in Jets’ wins.
Is Sunday the day that Josh Jacobs officially hits the 1,000-yard mark?
Through 10 games, the stud rookie is averaging just over 92 yards per contest, and since he’s currently sitting at 923 rushing yards, if the numbers hold up, Jacobs has a chance to hit 1,000 yards just 11 games into his 2019 campaign.
That said, the Jets boast the top run defense in the NFL, surrendering just 79.1 rushing yards per game.
To be fair though, the Chicago Bears also owned one of the best total defenses in the NFL when the Silver and Black met them in London, and Jacobs didn’t seem fazed in the least, galloping for 123 yards in the Week 5 win.
The University of Alabama product is going to get to 1,000 yards at some point this season, but I’m hopeful he can do it Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
4. Which version of Sam Darnold do we see?
It’s isn’t a secret that the second-year quarterback has had no shortage of ups and downs in his sophomore season in the Big Apple.
Darnold has put together games where we looks pedestrian at best, games where he flashes all the potential in the world, and games where he claims to see undead spirits roaming the secondary.
However, all kidding aside, the Raiders are going to get their shot at the former USC Trojan just a week after what was far and away his best performance of 2019, a four-touchdown outing against the Washington Redskins.
Darnold’s struggles in 2019 haven’t been squarely on his shoulders – I think it’s unfair to lay the blame on just him – but nevertheless, with 10 interceptions on the year, he’s going to give Paul Guenther’s defense chances to make plays against him.
It remains to be seen which version of Sam Darnold shows up for Week 12, but getting a little bit of pressure on young Mr. Darnold would go a long way in helping the Raiders notch their seventh win of 2019.
5. Mad Maxx – The Encore
Look, would it be awesome if Maxx Crosby took Sam Darnold down behind the line of scrimmage four times like he did to Ryan Finley last week? Uh, yeah, it’d be great, and I’m pretty sure it would be some type of NFL record too.
That said, as great as four sacks would be, I’ll be keeping an eye on No. 98 to see how he follows up his otherworldly performance last week against the Bengals.
The Jets have surrendered more sacks (41) than just two teams in the NFL, which does bode well for a Raiders’ pass rush that has come alive as of late, and I’m fired up to see what Crosby does with his chances to make big plays.
Another guy to keep an eye on at MetLife Stadium? Benson Mayowa.
Mayowa leads the Silver and Black with seven sacks, and after not adding to his lead last week in Oakland, I have a feeling he’s going to be gassed up and ready to rock at MetLife.
6. What role does the weather play?
It looks like we might finally get our first “weather” game of 2019.
As of now – and weather forecasts seemingly change from hour to hour – we’re looking at a 100 percent chance of rain on Sunday, as well as winds topping out at 11 miles per hour.
Now, will that forecast ring true, and will we actually get some precipitation Sunday afternoon? That remains to be seen, but if we do, be sure to watch and see how both teams deal with the conditions.
Rain typically goes hand in hand with sloppy weather, and sloppy weather typically means pounding the rock, which could be good news for the Silver and Black.
Mother Nature can be tricky this time of year, let’s see if she says hello this Sunday.
Let's take a look at the Raiders' current 53-man roster heading into the regular season.