Can Jeremy Kerley's return create a spark for the offense?

The Jets made history as the first team with a 10 game “win-loss” streak since the NFL-AFL merger back in the 70s, but that streak ended a few weeks ago. Now the Jets might be heading into a streak that’s never been seen during their 5-years under Rex Ryan: 4 straight losses.

Luckily for the Jets, the Raiders have a troubling streak of their own. They haven’t won a game played in the eastern-time zone since 2009. That’s 12 straight losses out east for the black and silver who have lost four of their last five.

In fact this might be the perfect remedy for the Jets. Like Gang Green, the Raiders are a rebuilding team. At 4-8 they’ve already exceeded expectations for a team with a completely remade defense, and questions at quarterback. They haven’t decided if Terrelle Pryor or Matt McGloin will start in this one. Both have been better than expected, despite failing to solidify themselves as the future at the position.

Both teams seem like long shots for the playoffs at this point, but neither one has been mathematically eliminated. The Jets made the playoffs back in 2009 when they were in a similarly bleak position, and a win here could start them on that same track.

When: Sunday, Decemeber 8, 2013, 1:00 pm (TV-CBS Radio-ESPN)

Where: Met Life Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ

Injury Report (as of Thursday)

Jets –LMT: CB Antonio Cromartie (hip), WR Santonio Holmes (foot, hamstring), DE Muhammad Wilkerson (wrist), TE Kellen Winslow (knee)

Raiders – DNP: G Mike Brisiel (ankle, knee), LB Kaluka Maiava (ribs, calf), RB Darren McFadden (ankle), WR Denarius Moore (shoulder), RB Jeremy Stewart (ankle, knee), S Usama Young (neck) LMT: S Tyvon Branch (ankle), LB Miles Burris (toe), DE Jason Hunter (foot), RB Rashad Jennings (concussion)

Game Keys:

Avoid the early deficit – The Raiders have been an aggressive team early in games this season, and have managed to get some early leads. While they’ve ultimately had a problem holding these leads, the Jets have had trouble mounting any sort of comeback. With how bad this offense has been recently, they can’t afford to fall behind early. Also, if you’re going to the game, make sure defense can hear you. The Jets are going to need as much home field advantage as they can get.

Protection – Going up against the Jets defense each week should prepare the offensive line for aggressive and creative blitzes, but that hasn’t been the case in recent weeks. The entire line has struggled, highlighted by the recent poor play of rookie Brian Winters. The Raiders love to blitz and dismantle the pocket. Smith is going to have no chance if they can get to him early.

Offensive Spark – The Jets offense is ranked 30th in the league. It’s the first time since week 4 that the whole offense is healthy. (See that clean injury report above?J) Santonio Holmes is still being bothered by a hamstring injury and may not play the whole game, but expect to see more of him than last week. A touchdown early on at home can literally be game changing.

X-Factor: The Jets leading and most consistent receiver Jeremy Kerley returns after missing the last three games with an elbow injury. They’ve really missed him. Rex said that he looked “outstanding” in practice today. Despite, being ruled out last Sunday, he was itching to get in. While his snaps may be limited, he can be a reliable receiver for Geno on third downs to help move the chains and keep the offense on the field. That might be enough to jumpstart this offense.

The Pick: When I first started writing this I wanted to pick the Jets to win, but I don’t have the confidence that the offense will be able to turn things around. This team has only managed a field goal in each of the last two games.

While the Jets defense has looked solid at times, they rank 25th in both pass defense and scoring defense. Last week was one of their weaker performances. On the flip side the Raiders haven’t looked awful despite the recent losses. Three of their four losses on this most recent stretch have been by a touchdown or less.

Raiders win 13-10

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