Struggling quarterback play headlines the matchup against the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets, in which Matt McGloin and Geno Smith will duke it out in a battle of who can last longer without being benched.
It didn't go well for Smith last week, as he was yanked at halftime of the Jets' brutal 23-3 loss to Miami. Now 5-7, the team has lost three consecutive and put up just six points combined over their last two games. McGloin has been better, but hasn't been able to keep the 4-8 Raiders from dropping their last two games, making them 1-4 over their last five outings.
Meet the Jets
It's not that Smith was ever playing lights-out football, but he was at last serviceable earlier this season. That seems like eons ago, especially after the rookie was benched at halftime last week in favor of Matt Simms. Rex Ryan is sticking with Smith against the Raiders, but he'll likely be on a short leash. His already-mundane supporting cast gets even thinner after Josh Cribbs was placed on injured reserve this week.
The defense remains one of the better units in the league, ranking 12th in yardage allowed, but hasn't been able to cover up the offense's ineptitude. Its strength is up front against the run, where New York is limiting opponents to a league-best 77 yards per game. With Oakland's running back corps banged up, expect McGloin to have to air it out early and often.
Meet the Raiders
Speaking of Oakland's running back injuries, Darren McFadden is once again beset with a malady -- this time an ankle injury, which has his availability against the Jets up in the air. Rashad Jennings, who has performed brilliantly during McFadden's frequent absences, has been cleared to practice after a sustaining a concussion last week, but hasn't been cleared to play yet. McGloin, the undrafted quarterback who has taken over for Terrelle Pryor, has played decently but is 1-2 as the starter.
The Raiders are strong against the run, as well, which, unfortunately for the Jets, could mean more passes from Smith. On the plus side, he'll be attempting those passes against the league's 24th-ranked pass defense, which is giving up an average of 253.9 yards per game through the air.
Local Takes: Jets
John B at Gang Green Nation laments Smith's plunge into awfulness.
Anybody with eyes can probably see the last four games have been ugly for Geno Smith. Ugly might be an understatement...
He didn't complete 45% of his passes in a single game during the third quarter of the season. As the season has progressed, the Jets have asked less of Geno, and he is falling off a cliff.
Local Takes: Raiders
McGloin grew up not far from the Meadowlands, and Levi Damien at Silver and Black Pride is hoping he can help the rest of the team feel comfortable in a setting where they've struggled over the last few years.
Feeling at home in the east is absolutely not something the Raiders have experienced of late. They haven't won in the Eastern time zone since Dec 6, 2009 - a string of 12 straight losses. That game in 2009 was the one in which Pittsburgh native Bruce Gradkowski returned to beat his hometown Steelers. Could this be a sign the Raiders are due to break the streak?
Follow the Fun
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Geno Smith has had the misfortune of facing a gauntlet of top pass defenses. http://t.co/gOwY3su2pi— Gang Green Nation (@GangGreenNation) December 1, 2013
@BrianCoz - Jets beat writer
Rex on rookies: "If this is not an A+ class, I don't know what you're looking for." #nyj— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) December 4, 2013
@Jerrcymcd - Raiders beat writer
McFadden's issue this time is an ankle, not hamstring _ hence moving Taiwan Jones to RB— Jerry McDonald (@Jerrymcd) December 4, 2013
Remember when the Jets beat the Saints? It happened. About a month ago, in Week 9. That loss, in New York, probably says more about the Saints than it does the Jets. Because the 5-4 Jets of Week 9 are long gone.
Is it time to bring back Terrelle Pryor yet? He hasn't played in two weeks, and the Raiders haven't been much fun to watch since then. We can't in good conscious recommend you to bet on this game. Offered cautiously ...
The pick: Jets
The Jets opened as 3½-point favorites on the road, though the spread has since shrunk to 1½ points at Odds Shark.