The autumn wind is a Raider, pillaging just for fun. He'll knock you 'round and upside down and laugh when he's conquered and won.
So goes the ode narrated by the late, great John Facenda for NFL Films. Now that the Raiders are based in Las Vegas, the sentiment is still much the same this year as they venture east to play the Jets at MetLife Stadium this afternoon.
After all, Las Vegas is 6-5, still in the AFC playoff hunt, and led by a QB in Derek Carr who is working on the best passer rating of his career and has received praise from around the NFL as he matures into his role as on-field leader of the Silver & Black. Meanwhile, the Green & White are 0-11 and trying to end that streak well before they end their season at New England on Jan. 3.
And yet ...
There are good reasons, from both historical and current events perspectives, for the Jets to be ready to rock and roll and get that long-sought-after first win against their visitors from Sin City.
We can start with the meeting between the Jets and the then-Oakland Raiders a year and a week ago, in Game 12 of the 2019 season. The Jets came into that game 3-7, the Raiders 6-4 ... but the Jets, already on their second-half hot streak, thumped the denizens of the Black Hole, 34-3.
This week, the LV QB remembered.
"I'll pump the brakes on them being a winless team and just reiterate that they kicked the crap out of us last year," Carr said. "We went there and they beat the dog out of us. So if we don't bring it, they'll do the same thing again."
Add to that several facts. Carr's worst two games of the past two seasons were at the Jets last year (zero TDs, 3 offensive points, 158 drive yards) and at the Falcons last week (43-6 loss, 0 TDs, 6 points, 201 drive yards).
And at Atlanta, Carr suffered three lost fumbles, all on strip sacks, giving him eight lost strip sacks on the year. Quinnen Williams, the Jets' hot second-year D-linemen, and his front seven mates can't wait.
And Carr's top running back, Josh Jacobs, didn't make the cross-country trip due to an ankle injury, another setback suffered vs. the Falcons.
Then some of that promised history: The Jets' win last year was their sixth straight at home vs. the Raiders, a stretch that began with the 1997 one-point comeback win over Oakland at Meadowlands Stadium.
Additionally, QB Sam Darnold and his offense could get some red zone help, again from both past and current factors. This season the Jets are last in the NFL with a 33% TD rate on red zone opportunities. But the Raiders are 22nd in RZ defense, yielding TDs at a 65% rate. And the Jets have a history of profiting inside the Raiders 20: They've scored at least one RZ touchdown in 14 consecutive meetings and in 17 straight home games dating to the teams' AFL rivalry start in the Sixties.
As a final pregame bullet point, Darnold, despite his and his offense's injury and production woes this season, remain eager to secure that first W. The QB's offensive line continues to be scrambled with starting LG Alex Lewis placed on Reserve/Non-Football Injury, backup LG Pat Elflein questionable with a shoulder injury, and RT George Fant questionable with knee/ankle concerns. But both Fant and Elflein are active for today's 1 p.m. ET kickoff.
But Darnold worked for a second straight week with his three starting wideouts, Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman and rookie Denzel Mims, as well as with Frank Gore as his sturdy, reliable 37-year-old lead back.
The Jets aren't losing focus on the Raiders, whom they "beat the dog out of" 53 weeks ago, just as the Raiders haven't looked past the Jets in the past week.
"They're a good team," Darnold said. "They've got really good players over there on defense, and schematically they're really good as well. Their coaches do a really good job of putting their players in good positions and positions to succeed. So we've got our hands full this week. And we're excited for the challenge."
The Jets' five-player inactive list for today's game:
- QB James Morgan
- WR Vyncint Smith
- TE Ross Travis
- OL Jimmy Murray
- OL Cameron Clark
And this is the Raiders' six-man inactive list:
- QB Nathan Peterman
- S Johnathan Abram
- RB Josh Jacobs
- CB Isaiah Johnson
- G John Simpson
- DE Carl Nassib