2020 Matchup Preview: Jets vs. Raiders

QB Sam Darnold Will Take Aim at an Overhauled Las Vegas Secondary in Week 13 

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After posting a 7-9 record last season, the Jets will have seven games against 2019 playoff teams and the 2020 schedule strength is .533. With training camp on the horizon and September not too far off in the distance, NewYorkJets.com is examining each of the Green & White's matchups next season. We continue our series with Raiders pregame and postgame host J.T. the Brick as the Jets will host the Silver& Black in Week 13.

The Headline
Heading into Year 3 of his second stint with the Raiders, Jon Gruden has people thinking about a restoration to excellence. After 4-12 and 7-9 marks in 2018 and '19, the Silver & Black have a new home in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium (aka The Death Star) and a two-game improvement this season could land them back in the postseason for the first time since 2016.

"This is the best roster the Raiders have had in a long time, up to a decade ago. They're one draft away and one free agent class away I think from having one of the super elite teams in the NFL because I don't think they'll have a weakness at any position on the team," said Raiders pregame and postgame host J.T. the Brick, a Massapequa, NY native. "But Jon Gruden wanted to tear down this roster and build it with players that he wanted to represent the Raiders leaving Oakland and coming to Las Vegas. This is a work in progress, but they're a playoff team. They have playoff talent and the Raider Nation would be very disappointed if the Raiders didn't make the playoffs this year."

What's Changed
The Raiders will be spectators again this offseason unless they improve a defense that ranked 24th in scoring (26.2 PPG), 25th in pass defense (256.7 YPG) and 26th in yards per play (5.9). They attacked that side of the ball in free agency, inking linebackers Cory Littleton (LAR) and Nick Kwiatkoski (CHI) to deals and targeting the secondary with the signings of S Jeff Heath (DAL) and CB Prince Amukamara (CHI) in addition to the drafting of a pair of corners in Damon Arnette (Ohio State) and Amik Robertson (LA Tech). The Raiders have high hopes for S Johnathan Abram, a hard-hitting first-round pick out of Mississippi State in 2019 who missed almost his entire rookie campaign after tearing his rotator cuff and labrum in Week 1.

"The defense feels like it's just going to be much more productive, much better in space and a much better tackling defense. Paul Guenther, the defensive coordinator, finally now has more playmakers and especially depth," said J.T. the Brick. "They have depth now on the defensive line to bring a rotation against all these quarterbacks they're going to face including Sam Darnold."

Matchups to WatchLas Vegas turned to the offensive side of the ball in the draft and selected three skill position talents with its first four picks. Last season, Derek Carr couldn't get anything going against a stifling Jets defense and Gruden waved the white towel, removing his veteran passer shortly after Brian Poole took a tipped pass back to the house in a 34-3 blowout. The Jets again would love to contain Josh Jacobs, who rushed for 1,150 yards as a rookie in just 13 games but was held to 34 yards against the Green & White. Carr has a lot of weapons around him and a new burner in Henry Ruggs III.

"By the time the Jets game comes around on the schedule, you'll know a lot about this conversation with Carr," said J.T. the Brick. "He has to be more explosive down the field and he has to play at a Pro Bowl level for the Raiders to make the playoffs."

Sam Darnold carved up the Raiders secondary last year with 315 yards and 2 TDs. How will his revamped outside targets fare against the new-look Vegas secondary?

Why It's Important
The Jets will have to lock in because this Week 13 contest has a bit of a trap feel. The Raiders visit following three consecutive division contests and prior to a West Coast swing against the Seahawks and the Rams. This could be a "got to have it" for New York's AFC representative.

Last season, the Raiders might have been a bit ahead of schedule when they met up with the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 24. Riding a three-game win streak and at 6-4, the Raiders were throttled by the Green & White and limped to the finish line. They'll meet even later this year at the Met as the Jets will entertain the Silver & Black on Dec 6.

"The Raiders are hoping for a much better outcome. That game was just one of the worst Raiders performances of the year and it came at a time when the Raiders really were optimistic about where they were in the season and they were looking to build momentum," said J.T. the Brick. "That was probably one of the biggest losses of last season that stung the organization so hard because it was unexpected."

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