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Five key match-ups for Raiders vs Jets: Even Jets best are at disadvantage in Oakland

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New York Jets v Oakland Raiders Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It’s week two and the Raiders home opener against the visiting New York Jets. As usual there will be some match-ups to watch between the two squads, although most of them appear to favor the Raiders.

Marshall Newhouse vs Kony Ealy

Newhouse had a very solid first game at right tackle for the Raiders. His evaluation will continue and this week his match-up is former second round pick, Koney Ealy. Originally drafted by the Panthers in 2014, Ealy was released this offseason. Then he was signed by the Patriots and released again where he was picked up by the Jets.

Ealy wasn’t able to get a sack, but he got some pressure including a hit on Bills QB Tyrod Taylor in the opener. He had 5.0 sacks and 7 QB hits last season. The Jets don’t have much in the way of outside pass rushers, so Ealy may be the biggest threat to Newhouse keeping Carr clean.

Khalil Mack vs Brandon Shell

It’s one modern Raiders legend vs the grand nephew of a Raiders Hall of Famer (Art Shell). This one may not be fair. If the Jets have two brain cells to rub together, they will rarely if ever leave Shell alone one-on-one with Mack. Regardless of what the Jets throw at Mack, Shell will be the primary protection.

Thus far Shell has performed well overall. As the new full time starter, the 2016 fifth round pick held off Bills pass rusher — and former Raider — Lorenzo Alexander. However, he got smacked down by Kyle Williams at one point and Shaq Lawson put a bull rush on him to knock him back into his quarterback, Josh McCown. Shell will have a much more difficult time with the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. I would expect Mack to get his first sack this week after having his one sack last week wiped away by a penalty.

Gabe Jackson vs Muhammad Wilkerson

If there is a strength on the Jets, it’s their interior defensive line. The bulk of the time, Jackson will have his hands full with Wilkerson. While Jackson didn’t allow a pressure last week, he didn’t fair well in run blocking. In Jackson’s defense, he was facing Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jurrell Casey a good portion of the time. Wilkerson is a former Pro Bowler in his own right, so it’s another big match-up for Jackson this week.

Michael Crabtree vs Morris Claiborne

Claiborne is a talented player. The former 6th overall pick’s major issue as a pro has been his ability to stay healthy. He appeared in 47 games for the Cowboys over his first five NFL seasons, starting 43 of them. The Jets thought enough of him to make him their new number one and release veteran former All Pro Darrelle Revis this offseason.

Crabtree should be matched up on Claiborne most of the game. These two have met before. Claiborne matched up with Crabtree in the season opener in 2014 when Crabtree was with the 49ers. In that game Colin Kaepernick threw Crabtree’s way five times. The first pass Claiborne was called for pass interference. The next two, Crabtree caught for 12 and 13 yards. The fourth was tipped at the line, the fifth, Kap got hit on the arm as he threw, it was intercepted and fumbled and Crabtree raced after the bouncing ball to recover it for the offense. One other time, Crabtree had Claiborne beaten, but Claiborne dove and grabbed his foot, tripping him. It went uncalled, and the Kap threw for Anquan Boldin for a 37-yard gain. The 49ers beat the Cowboys 28-17.

Sean Smith vs Jermaine Kearse

Really, you could say any Raiders corner versus Kearse. He is the Jets’ best receiver, which may not be saying a whole lot considering their overall lack of talent in the receiving corps. He will line up on both sides of the almost equally, but since it has has been Sean Smith who has had the question marks of late, we’re focusing on him.

Smith had an outstanding opener against a tough Titans’ receiving corps. It was a pleasant surprise following a rough preseason which followed up struggles he had last season. He had a neck issue that cost him a practice this week, but he returned Friday and I expect he’ll play. We’ll see if he is still having any issues with his neck as well as if he can continue what he started in the opener.