November 22, 2019 - 5:10 pm
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.
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.