LAS VEGAS (AP) — When the New York Jets visit Las Vegas on Sunday, there should be more clarity regarding the direction of both teams this season.
The Jets enter the game at 4-4, so a win helps their postseason hopes. A loss makes a playoff scenario much more difficult in the loaded AFC.
At 4-5, the Raiders also hope to tread water under interim coach Antonio Pierce, who won his debut game last Sunday after replacing Josh McDaniels, defeating the New York Giants 30-6 to inject life into the season — and a heavy dose of postgame cigar smoke thanks to Maxx Crosby.
Whether that emotion — and execution — carries over to this week remains to be seen. If not, the Raiders' hopes for making an unexpected playoff run are all but over.
“The NFL is a week-to-week basis,” Crosby said. “There's coaching changes, player changes, things like that, but the teams that win are the teams that stay locked in and stay together and stay healthy. Luckily, we're in a position where if we win the game, we're back to .500 going into the real heart of the season."
Zach Wilson and the Jets’ offense can’t seem to do much right this season. And that might be an understatement.
They have just three touchdowns in their past four games and the offense has just eight overall in eight games. New York ranks last in the NFL in third down percentage and red zone conversion percentage.
Meanwhile, the Jets’ defense has been solid all season and kept New York in games.
“We have to be better for them,” Wilson said. “I don’t know if I’d say we feel pressure, but we need to do something. We need to score points. It’s not good enough, and we understand that. I wouldn’t say pressure, because I think as an offense, we know it’s close, and it sucks, because we keep saying ‘close.’ I get sick of that, I know everyone else does, too, but it’s like we really are.”
As one of the NFL's top receivers, Davante Adams is used to seeing a variety of defenses, but little man to man.
Could the Jets, with star cornerbacks Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed, be willing to play Adams in single coverage more than most opponents? Gardner, in particular, lived up to the hype last season by being selected as the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and a first-team AP All-Pro.
Such accolades didn't impress Adams, who has made that team the past three seasons.
“He’s a good player for sure,” Adams said. "He’s got a good tape and has got a lot of good measurables. He’s deserving of the attention that he’s gotten for sure since he’s been in league, but bringing up the first-team All-Pro and all that, you’ve got to line it up every snap at the end of the day. So the past accomplishments don’t mean anything for anybody, but especially in this instance.”
Quinnen Williams had a huge season last season for the Jets, setting a career high with 12 sacks while being selected an All-Pro and a Pro Bowler for the first time.
It earned him a four-year, $96 million contract extension, including $66 million guaranteed, in the offseason to make him one of the highest-paid defensive tackles in the league.
So far this season, though, the sacks haven’t come. He enters the game against the Raiders with just a half-sack — but coach Robert Saleh insists that doesn’t tell the story of the frequently double-teamed Williams’ season.
“Teams are going out of their way to game plan Quinnen to try to take him out of the game, but he’s still absolutely wrecking run games,” Saleh said. “He ranks top five in every statistical category you can conjure up. He’s just not getting the sack production. ... Quinnen Williams is one of the top-five defensive players in all of football and he’s proving it down-in and down-out.”
After allowing eight sacks to the Los Angeles Chargers, the Jets might have their sixth offensive line combination in nine games on Sunday night.
And the five guys up front will be tasked with trying to slow Crosby, who’s tied for second in the NFL with 9½ sacks this season and is coming off a three-sack performance against the Giants.
“That dude’s a great player,” Wilson said. “An unbelievable player, all the way across the board.”
Billy Turner, who started at right tackle against the Chargers, won't play after needing surgery to repair a broken finger. Max Mitchell could start in his place and perhaps Xavier Newman at right guard. Left tackle Duane Brown, who hasn’t played since Week 2 with a hip injury, has fully practiced since being cleared last week but won't be activated from IR this week.
AP Pro Football Writer Dennis Waszak Jr. contributed to this report.
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