How the Jets beat the Bills and if Raiders have the firepower to do it too

Four plays into the Monday night matchup between the Jets and Bills, the Jets lost their great hope. That when Aaron Rodgers — the biggest acquisition of the 2023 offseason by any team — was lost to an injury.

At that point most of the NFL world thought the Bills would trounce the Jets. You know, the. 13-3, reigning AFC East champion Bills?

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And yet, the Jets hung around, took the game to overtime, and then sealed it on a huge punt return for a touchdown.

There are two questions that arise from this.

1. How?

2. Can the Raiders do it too?

The first question is easier to answer than the second one. As to whether the Raiders can do it too, the answer is cliche, but true — anything’s possible.

What we *can* do is lay out how the Jets did it and tell you what the Raiders have to offer should they wish to replicate the Jets’ success.

1. Interior pressure

The Jets sacked Josh Allen five time. No easy task considering how elusive Allen can be. Three of those five sacks came interior defenders including former Raiders DT Quinton Jefferson who had two.

Keep in mind the Bills were without Carl Lawson for the game, so the interior DL did much of this without a strong edge rusher to help out.

Can the Raiders do it?

It’s interesting to note that a former Raiders DT had two sacks in the game, because they never should have let Jefferson walk and they haven’t done a great job of replacing him. The Raiders interior DL is one of the least threatening units on any team, let alone the Raiders.

Like the Bills, the Raiders will be without a pass rusher as Chandler Jones is still away from the team dealing with his personal issues. The Raiders do have Maxx Crosby, but he may be once again going at it with little or no help.

2. Safety ball hawking

Strong safety Jordan Whitehead may as well have been Josh Allen’s VISA card cuz he was everyone he wanted to be. Whitehead had not one. not two, but THREE interceptions in the game! Not many quarterbacks can survive that.

And, sure, Whitehead probably had some help, but you don’t pick off three passes by accident. You have to have some tremendous instincts, smarts, and hands to be that opportunistic.

Can the Raiders do it?

The man lining up at the strong safety spot for the Raiders these days in Marcus Epps. He was one of the team’s priority free agent signings this offseason after his first full season as a starter in Philadelphia.

Can Epps ball hawk like that? If he can, it would be a real first. Epps has as many career interceptions (3) as Whitehead had Monday night alone. And he had none of them in 17 starts last season.

In the season opener, Epps would have had a forced fumble, but it was wiped away by a Marcus Peters illegal contact penalty. Epps also gave up a 21-yard catch and one the Broncos’ two touchdown catches. Fellow safety Tre’von Moehrig gave up the other one. Moehrig has just one career interception and had none last season. So, the answer, again, is not likely.

3. Big time receiver making big time plays

Garrett Wilson is a certified stud. He made Aaron Rodgers’ replacement Zach Wilson right on a pass with one of the most unreal catches you’ll ever see. Wilson threw for him in the end zone with Pro Bowl cornerback Tre’Davious White all over him. The ball was right at White, but Wilson reached back and batted the ball away, tipping it to himself to make the TD catch.

Can the Raiders do that?

To answer this question, you need only listen to Aaron Rodgers, who put a post on social media this offseason touting how much he loves his number 17 receivers. Currently that’s Wilson. But for several years that was Davante Adams.

So, yeah, the Raiders can absolutely do that. Adams has often done that. He makes his QB look right and makes their job easier with his ability to get open either via his superb route running or his long speed.

4. Explosive run game

Breece Hall had a big night, first breaking off a 23-yard run and later bursting for an 83-yard run. He finished with 127 yards on 10 attempts. Toss in the 33 yards on 13 carries by Dalvin Cook and the Jets back put up 160 yards on the ground, while averaging seven yards per carry.

Can the Raiders do that?

Well, the Raiders *do* have the NFL’s reigning rushing title holder. Josh Jacobs easily had the most rushing yards last season. Though, you may not have known it by how he was running last week.

Not to say that was all his fault. He had a few plays where he broke a tackle at or behind the line of scrimmage and made something out of nothing. But after missing all of training camp while refusing to sign the franchise tender, he didn’t really look like he was the same explosive back we saw last season.

I would expect Jacobs will be more like the back he was last season now that he’s been hit a few times. After all, he had his great season after playing significant minutes during the 2022 preseason, so we know he does his best work when he’s seen some live game action.

5. Clutch special teams play

The Jets got the win in dramatic fashion. After forcing a punt quickly in overtime, return man Xavier Gipson took it to the house for the walk-off win.

It was a great return, but it’s important not to give *all* the credit to the man with the ball. He had ten guys blocking as well.

The drama on special teams actually started before that. The game made it to overtime on a 50-yard field goal from Tyler Bass that hit the left upright and still went through.

Can the Raiders do that?

The Raiders have arguably the best kicker in the league in Daniel Carlson. And there is no question they have the best kick squad in the league when you factor in punter AJ Cole.

It was lack of clutch special teams play from Broncos kicker Wil Lutz that helped the Raiders escape Denver with a win last week. Lutz missed and extra point and a 55-yard field goal. The Raiders won the game 17-16.

Carlson missed just one field goal inside 50 yards last season and nailed 11 field goals of 50 yards or more. And Cole has averaged at or near 50 yards per punt for the past two seasons.

As for punt and kick returns, the Raiders don’t threaten much. Ameer Abdullah returned 26 kicks last season. He averaged 20.9 yards per return with a long of 33 yards. The longest punt return was Hunter Renfrow for 17 yards.

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Mike McNamara

Mike McNamara

A Las Vegas Realtor since 2008. Mike has a wide range of knowledge around all things Las Vegas.

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