The Jets are gearing up for their West Coast road trip, and on the surface they're looking forward to it. QB Josh McCown, who started nine games for the Raiders in 2007, called the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum "a fun environment to go into and play and enjoy it." Leonard Williams has 25 of his California friends and family coming to the game. And offensive coordinator John Morton, who got his coaching start from the late, great Al Davis, said, "I can't wait to go to the Black Hole and listen to that AC/DC music."
But the Green & White are well aware that this is not a joyride. After Sunday's opening-day loss at the Bills, they could be in for a rough ride against the rising Raiders in their home opener.
"We didn't play up to our standards last week," said Muhammad Wilkerson, speaking about his defense but with words that apply for the entire team. "All the things basically that we did wrong, we've got to correct those. Otherwise, it'll be a long day for us."
Here are seven points to consider as the Jets head toward Sunday's 4:05 p.m. ET kickoff:
1. Black Hole BluesThe road that ends in Oakland has not been kind over the years to the Jets. Excluding their Titans beginnings and the Raiders' L.A. years, the Green & White are 3-14-1 in the Black Hole, with the only wins coming in the 2001 regular-season finale to get into the playoffs, mid-2003 in OT and 2009 by 38-0. If it's any consolation to Jets fans, the Raiders have lost four of their last five home openers. But they did win home openers in '13 over Jacksonville and '11 — over the Jets by 34-24.
2. Hawk ModeMarshawn Lynch is back in "Beast Mode" after a year out of football. The ex-Seahawk, playing for his hometown team of Oakland, ran for 76 yards on 18 carries in the Raiders' win at Tennessee. WR Jermaine Kearse, who led the Jets with seven catches, 59 yards and four first downs at Buffalo, was Lynch's Seattle teammate from 2012-15. "Marshawn is a good friend of mine, and one of the best running backs I've gotten to see play with my own two eyes," Kearse said, adding optimistically, "It'll be a good battle, but I think our defense can handle it."
3. Calling (Out) All D-LinemenWilkerson and Williams said they and their mates in the DL room "took it as a challenge" when head coach Todd Bowles called their unit out for their play vs. the Bills. "We just didn't play to our standards," Williams said. "We want to be a dominant front, and a dominant front doesn't give up 190 yards rushing. ... We're able to change games and we didn't do that this past Sunday. That's what we're looking forward to doing this week."
4. Accelerating CarrBut that will be a tall order against an offense triggered by QB Derek Carr with his array of weapons, from Lynch to WRs Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper to TE Jared Cook. Plus, Carr doesn't throw a lot of interceptions (83 TD passes to 31 INTs since '14) and he has the lowest sack rate (3.97% of his dropbacks) the past four years among the 24 NFL quarterbacks with at least 1,000 pass attempts.
5. In Need of TakeawaysJamal Adams doesn't have to be told the importance of takeaways. "We've definitely got to create more turnovers on defense and capitalize on plays," the rookie safety said. The defense produced a big TA on its first drive of the season vs. the Bills, Juston Burris' end zone pick, but that was it for the game. Meanwhile, the Raiders had no giveaways vs. the Titans, and in the Jets' last two visits to the Black Hole, in '11 and '15, the Raiders had no turnovers and didn't fumble once.
Best Photos from a the Battles Between the Jets and Raiders
6. Mack AttackOn the offensive side, the Jets have strategized this week about how to keep DE Khalil Mack from trucking against McCown and company. The NFL's sack leader since 2015 with 26 sacks also has 50 QB hits and seven forced fumbles in that span. "He's probably one of the best rushers in football," OC John Morton said. "It's about our tackles, but also about our running backs, tight ends and receivers. We've got to know where he's at. We think we've got a good game plan set up for that."
7. Kicking It from DowntownChandler Catanzaro gave indications Sunday at Buffalo that his big, reliable leg is back with 48- and 52-yard field goals and three end-line touchbacks. With a back-on-the-beam Catman vs. a Raiders team that is without its Seabass (Sebastian Janikowski, king of the NFL 50-yard kickers with 55 of them since 2000, on IR with a back injury) it might have seemed like small advantage, Jets ... except that first-year K Giorgio Tavecchio filled in for SJ by going 4-for-4 at Tennessee with a pair of 52-yarders and KO five touchbacks. Bombs away in the Black Hole?