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Jets Expecting a Dogfight in a Dark Place Today


The New York Jets flew out to the West Coast two days ago and head coach Eric Mangini brought the team to Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum for a walkthrough to get the blood running. And if anyone's concerned about Raiders owner Al Davis lurking in the stadium for a sneak preview, or flying above it in his helicopter, it isn't Mangini.

"No. There are no state secrets in that walkthrough," said Mangini. "Sometimes the plays we're running, it's more to get loose and get guys moving after a long plane ride than it is just going through the openers or the lead blitzes and things like that."

Perhaps Mangini also wanted to introduce his players, many of whom will be playing in Oakland for the first time, to the Coliseum without anyone in the stands; while there was quiet. Whatever the reason, that introduction will be short-lived, as the Jets return to one of sports' most theatrical environments — the Black Hole.

One of those first-timers, nose tackle Kris Jenkins, shared some appropriate advice he was given.

"The only thing I have heard about there is that if you have family that wants to come visit, it's a good idea to tell them to stay home and watch it on television," he said. "Other than that, I don't know."

Mangini doesn't need to go into detail to describe the atmosphere of the Black Hole, where the notorious fans dress up in extravagant garb and do their best to give the Raiders a mental edge. Mangini, though, won't excuse a poor performance by his players due to the daunting environment.

"I don't know what their college experience was, or if there's anything comparable in college football," he said. "We've all been to really hostile places. It's just one element. Nobody in the crowd is going to make any plays. You appreciate their enthusiasm. There are a lot of stadiums we played at that are loud. It's more a function of getting through and being able to communicate with the noise level."

A win today would give the Jets their second three-game win streak of the Mangini era. It would also be their best start to a season since they went 5-1 through their first six games of the '04 season. But before the Jets can think about their fourth victory, they must contend with a Raiders team that is much improved, despite their 1-4 record.

"They play hard," said Jenkins. "They are about their business. I think we have to be prepared to go in there for a dogfight. I think that is what it's really going to be out there. I'm excited."

All eyes will be on Jenkins and the NFL's No. 3-ranked defense as the Jets face perhaps the most formidable rushing attack they've seen this season. Darren McFadden, Michael Bush and Justin Fargas have provided the legwork to make the Raiders the fourth-rated run offense in the league.

"This team has three good running backs. It will be a switch," said OLB Calvin Pace. "We just have to change our mode of things. It will definitely be more stopping the run this week, more so than last week, and focus on the pass secondary. And once we stop the run you'll find you can pin your ears back and go for it."

Jets fan favorite Wayne Chrebet joined's Randy Lange and Eric Allen on this week's "Jets Two-Minute Drive" radio show to touch base with fans. Chrebet, who once visited the Coliseum seven times in five years, painted a picture of what it's like playing in the Black Hole.

"Expect a very rowdy, very loud crowd," he said. "They love their football in Oakland. You can look in the stands and everybody's dressed up, everybody's got the face paint on, and it's part of their home field advantage. We got a chance to play there two weeks in a row when I was there and each time was louder than the time before.

"They've had a tough year. They're a dangerous team to be playing, especially out there," Chrebet said. "I think the guys are going to get fired up just being around that Black Hole, It does crazy things to you."

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