The promise of the Jets' three-game win streak was halted by the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday. But perhaps it can be resurrected on Sunday Night Football when the Green & White make their first road trip to Sin City to take on the Raiders in Las Vegas.
And this can be a jackpot kind of game for the Jets, depending on which road team shows up and which Raiders team meets them on the field of Allegiant Stadium.
Are the Raiders a low-morale team that just fired head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler?. Or the same old feisty Rai-duhs who found new life under interim HC Antonio Pierce and pummeled the Giants on Sunday, 30-6? Are they a team with a gimpy starting QB in Jimmy Garoppolo and a spiraling 3-5 record, or a team that continues to play better and better in its home in the Nevada desert, winning its last three games and securing that W over Big Blue with rookie QB Aidan O'Connell filling in smartly for Jimmy G?
The Jets have their own issues to deal with in a struggling offense and an unsettled O-line. They're also poised in a similar position to the Raiders. At 4-4, they're far from out of the AFC playoff talk, but a win over a similarly up-and-down opponent to get them back above .500 is a must for that talk to continue. And head coach Robert Saleh knows it won't be easy.
"They're talented. Their defense is really freaking good. Offensively, obviously, Josh Jacobs and Davante [Adams] are two of the best in football," Saleh said of the Raiders. "We know we've got our hands full going over there."
Here are five players plus a key position that will have to deal with LV's Maxx Crosby when the Jets try to find paradise under the Sunday night lights. In Paradise, NV, of course.
RB Breece Hall — Just as last week seemed to be a perfect opportunity for the passing game to get rolling against the Chargers' 32nd-ranked pass defense, this week's script flips to a great opening for Breece Hall and the Jets running attack vs. the Raiders rush defense, 31st in yards allowed/game and 27th in yards/carry. Hall has been contained by the Eagles, Giants and Chargers, but the last time he went three consecutive games with less than 60 rush yards, he erupted in Denver with his 177-yard game with the 72-yard TD run. A Hall of a game will do wonders in helping Zach Wilson and the passing attack get it together for a big
WR Allen Lazard — It's been a slow start to Lazard's time in a different shade of green. He was the Packers' leading pass-catcher last year with 60 receptions, most from Aaron Rodgers, and by one independent analyst, six dropped passes. This year he has 19 receptions, for potentially the best average of his career (14.4 yards/catch) but also four drops. But Saleh remains bullish on Lazard, praising his work ethic and saying, " He'll come around. He's got the right mindset, so I'm not overly concerned about the direction he's going." If things can settle down around the offense, this would be a great chance for Lazard and Garrett Wilson to team up as many thought they could back in the spring.
Jets right tackle — It could be Billy Turner, as it was Monday vs. the Chargers. It could be Mekhi Becton if Duane Brown is activated and moves back in at LT. Or it could be leaving Becton at LT and plugging Brown in at RT. However it goes, that position will need to be ready to respond to LDE Maxx Crosby's multiple talents. Crosby is tied for second in the NFL with 9.5 sacks, tied for 11th with 13 QB hits, and after his 3-sack home rout of the Giants, he'll be ready to speed-rush, bull-rush, stunt onto RG Max Mitchell and more to try to make Zach Wilson go bust in the pocket in Vegas. And the Jets
LBs C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams — Mosley supplies the heady leadership and point-of-attack presence. Williams spends much of his time speeding to sacks and TFLs and other big plays. Together, they're one of three pairs of NFL 'backers with 70-plus tackles, and their tackle ability will be key in sitting hard on Jacobs, the dangerous but struggling RB on pace for a career low of 3.2 yards/carry for the Raiders' 31st-ranked rushing offense (in both yards/game and yards/carry). Jacobs got in a 98-yard groove vs. the Giants, though, and he remains productive catching passes out of the backfield, another area C.J. and Quincy will need to be on top of to turn the Raiders one-dimensional.
CB D.J. Reed — It's on Sauce Gardner and everyone in the secondary to maintain their recent coverage hot streak that has them rising to third in the NFL in net passing yards and to come up with their first picks in three games. But if Saleh and DC Jeff Ulbrich keep Sauce at LCB and Reed at RCB, D.J. figures to see a lot of Mr. Hesitation, WR Davante Adams. Aaron Rodgers' favorite wideout, who's been fairly quiet of late, usually lines up on the offense's left side, and he'll try to get Reed turned around in coverage to replicate his last explosion in Week 3 — 13 catches, 172 yards and two TDs vs. the Steelers in Week 3.