After suffering an ugly, 43-6 loss at Atlanta, it appears the schedule gods did the Las Vegas Raiders a huge favor with a game on Sunday afternoon against the winless New York Jets in East Rutherford, N.J.
Las Vegas (6-5), in a battle with Miami, Indianapolis and Baltimore for the final two wild card spots in the AFC, were in a similar position last season. And that 3-7 Jets squad thumped the 6-4 Raiders, 34-3, as quarterback Sam Darnold played arguably his best game as a professional, going 20-of-29 passing for 315 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions while also rushing for another score.
So, don't expect Jon Gruden's squad to take the winless Jets (0-11) lightly.
"(The Jets) kicked the crap out of us the last time we played," quarterback Derek Carr reminded reporters Wednesday.
The Raiders' record wasn't the only thing that got hurt by the Falcons. No less than 17 Raiders appeared on Wednesday's injury report and 10 of them -- running back Josh Jacobs (ankle), safety Johnathan Abram (knee), wide receiver Nelson Agholor (ankle), corner Damon Arnette (concussion/neck), linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (ankle), defensive tackles Maliek Collins (hamstring/ankle) and Maurice Hurst (ankle/calf), guard Denzelle Good (ankle), center Rodney Hudson (not injury related) and guard Gabe Jackson (not injury related) -- didn't practice.
On the positive front, right tackle Trent Brown, defensive back Lamarcus Joyner and running back Theo Reddick were all activated from the COVID-19 list.
And Gruden is confident that Jacobs, who leads the team with 782 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, will play on Sunday.
Fullback Alec Ingold, who was limited with broken ribs suffered in a 31-26 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Nov. 8, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that it was "gut check" time for the Raiders.
"Whatever we did last week will not work -- now or in the playoffs," Ingold said. "We just can't do it anymore. Everyone says champs don't lose in December leading up to the playoffs. Well, we have about five playoff games before the real ones start."
Playoffs have not been a topic for the winless Jets, who will be trying to avoid matching the longest losing streak in franchise history. New York managed just 10 first downs in a 20-3 loss to Miami last week, and is only 7-20 under second-year coach Adam Gase.
Darnold, playing for the first time since aggravating a right shoulder injury in a 35-9 loss to Kansas City on Nov. 1, went 16-of-27 passing for 197 yards and was intercepted twice in the loss to the Dolphins. But Gase said he will stick with him as the starter over veteran Joe Flacco.
Darnold hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in 19 quarters and his 64 passer rating is the worst among qualifying quarterbacks.
"Sam is the starter, and we need Sam to play as many snaps as possible," Gase said. "It's easy to point at the quarterback all the time. Sam needs to play. I want him to play. I want him to be out there."
Three Jets didn't practice on Wednesday.
Right tackle George Fant (knee, ankle), linebacker Blake Coleman (hamstring) and offensive lineman Alex Lewis (not injury related) all sat out while offensive linemen Pat Elflein (shoulder) and Connor McGovern (elbow) as well as wide receiver Breshad Perriman (shoulder) were limited.
--Field Level Media