weather icon Clear

Raiders can’t take Sam Darnold, Jets lightly this week

This might be one of those years.

The Raiders got the victory they were looking for Thursday when the Texans defeated the Colts to gain control of the AFC South. Why does that matter? Because the Raiders have the head-to-head tiebreaker against Indianapolis but not Houston. That helps them in potential wild-card ties.

Now the Raiders must take care of business Sunday at the New York Jets. Oakland is favored by 2½ or 3 points.

To some this might look easy. But trust me, it won’t be. NFL teams are never as bad as you think they are. Well, the Cincinnati Bengals might be an exception. But think Atlanta Falcons for a clearer picture of what I mean.

The Jets have been a mess for most of the year, but you cannot overstate how much quarterback Sam Darnold’s battle with mono earlier this season set the franchise back. The Jets are 3-0 when his passer rating is 90 or higher, including the last two weeks against the Giants and Redskins.

A week ago against Washington, Darnold and the Jets received the opening kickoff and quickly drove 75 yards for a touchdown that put them ahead to stay. Studying the drive puts the Raiders on high alert that coach Adam Gase trusts Darnold. He scripted first-down passes, then Darnold threw on second-and-1 and dialed up a 20-yard touchdown pass.

Gase also sprinkled in plays involving Le’Veon Bell, and that’s significant for Sunday’s game. Bell isn’t the same threat that you remember from the Steelers, but he possesses a receiving threat out of the backfield, and Raiders linebackers are suspect in that area.

I think the Raiders will need at least 27 points to beat the Jets (total of 47½), which means handling defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and his outstanding young safety, Jamal Adams. He has five sacks in the Jets’ last two games, both wins. Williams’ defense allows only 79 rushing yards a game, best in the NFL.

Josh Jacobs, the Raiders’ talented rookie running back, will be looking for daylight wherever he can find it, and he’ll need help from his buddy — fellow rookie fullback Alec Ingold — to lead the way.

Meaningful Raiders games in November. How good is this?

Don’t forget …

Any teaser you play this week must include the Green Bay Packers. They are catching 3½ points Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers in a showdown between the top two seeds in the NFC. The Packers have impressive road wins in Dallas and Kansas City. The 49ers have played only one team currently in the top six in either conference, and they lost that game to Seattle in overtime.

Cash some tickets this week, because that’s what it’s all about.

More Betting: Follow at reviewjournal.com/betting and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Brent Musburger’s betting column appears Saturday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He is host of “My Guys in the Desert” weekdays from 2 to 4 p.m. on VSiN.com, SiriusXM 204 and 920 AM The Game.

Brent Musburger says take 49ers over Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV

The 49ers have the better defensive team, especially up front, and a much better running game, which should allow them to control the clock in the fourth quarter.

Brent Musburger says Chiefs, 49ers headed to Super Bowl

Brent Musburger says the Chiefs will cover the 7-point spread against the Titans, and the 49ers will win but not cover the 7½-point spread vs. the Packers.

NFL’s wild-card weekend offers no safe bets

Nothing is more difficult to handicap than the NFL’s wild-card weekend. Three seasons ago, all four favorites won and cashed against the spread. Underdogs are 8-0 ATS since.

Raiders’ fate could be tied to Texans’ gameplan

Enter Texans coach Bill O’Brien. His team is currently the No. 4 seed, and its only chance of moving up is for the Chargers to upset the Chiefs.

Raiders still have outside chance to make NFL playoffs

Despite their penchant for thinking games are over at halftime and their rash of injuries to key players, the Raiders are not eliminated from the NFL playoffs.

Raiders need to slow ‘Mr. December’ Derrick Henry

In 14 December games, Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry has carried 225 times for 1,176 yards and 14 touchdowns. He ran for 149 yards last week at Indianapolis.

Chiefs’ inept defense gives Raiders hope in key AFC West game

This game presents the biggest coaching challenge for Jon Gruden since he left the broadcasting booth. His team is young, and its confidence was badly shaken last weekend.