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Raiders-Jets: 3 key matchups as Davante Adams draws an All-Pro foe

Jets’ plethora of defensive talent will give Raiders’ offense challenges

NFL: New York Giants at Las Vegas Raiders
Antonio Pierce, Davante Adams
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders have a ton of momentum heading into their Week 10 matchup with the New York Jets as the Raiders are coming off of a dominant win. However, New York has several talented defensive players that could give Las Vegas trouble.

That’s a big reason why the Silver and Black are slight home underdogs on DraftKings Sportsbook and is the focus for this week’s key matchups.

1) Davante Adams vs. Sauce Gardner

Last year, Sauce Gardner had one of the best rookie seasons in league history for a cornerback. He led the league with an impressive 20 passes defended and earned a 90.0 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus which led all corners. This season, he doesn’t have the same eye-popping numbers, but he is still playing at an elite level.

Gardner has only picked up five pass breakups this season and is allowing a 72.4 completion percentage when targeted, according to PFF, and the latter is up nearly 30 points from a year ago. However, that is primarily because offenses aren’t testing him down the field as often.

For example, he’s giving up nearly three yards fewer per catch compared to his rookie season—8.1 ypc to 10.9—and his average depth of target (ADOT) is down by five yards—10.4 ADOT to 15.4. So, the increase in completion percentage and decrease in PBUs makes sense, and Gardner still ranks fourth at his position with an 86.7 PFF coverage grade.

On the other side of the ball, Davante Adams is one of the league’s bests as well. Adams is also having a “down year” statistically compared to last season with 51 catches for 573 yards and three touchdowns, and he hasn’t hit paydirt since Week 3.

However, he’s still been efficient with a top 20 PFF receiving grade (78.8) and ranks 25th in yards per route run (1.96).

So, this matchup pits a couple of 2022 All-Pros against each other and will be one of the biggest one-on-one battles to keep an eye on. The good news for the Raiders is Gardner almost exclusively plays as a boundary corner on the defense’s left, so the offense can move Adams around if Adams is struggling to win the matchup. Also, the corner does have six missed tackles at a 19.4 percent rate, which might be an area the wideout can exploit.

2) Dylan Parham vs. Quinnen Williams

Buffalo Bills v New York Jets
Quinnen Williams
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

As mentioned above, the Jets have no shortage of defensive talent as Quinnen Williams is also a reigning first-team All-Pro, and he’s having almost as good of a season this year.

Williams has stood out as a run defender in 2023, leading all defensive tackles with an elite mark of 90.1 from PFF in that department. He also ranks tied for fourth with 19 defensive stops and has an average depth of tackle of exactly one yard, meaning he makes several impact plays against the run.

While the former No. 2 overall pick likely won’t replicate his 12-sack performance from a year ago with just 0.5 at the halfway point of this season, he has been able to generate quite a bit of pressure.

He’s logged 31 pressures, per PFF, which is the fifth-most at the position and he’s recorded the fewest pass-rush snaps of anyone in the top five. Also, his 17.2 percent win rate ranks ninth.

Similar to Gardner, Williams doesn’t flip sides of the center much as about 84 percent of his snaps this season have come on the right side or the offense’s left. That means he’ll be lined up across from Dylan Parham for the majority of Sunday night.

So far, Parham has been pretty stout in pass protection this season, surrendering just 11 pressures with one sack, according to PFF. That gives him an efficiency rating of 98.1 which ranks tied for ninth among guards.

However, the ground game appears to be where Williams will have a significant advantage as Parham’s PFF run-blocking grade is only a few points above the baseline at 63.1. Also, the Raiders are only averaging about 3.5 yards per carry when running the ball between the left A- and B-gaps.

So, this matchup seems to tilt in New York’s favor, meaning Las Vegas and Parham will need to step up if the offense is going to have success this weekend.

3) Robert Spillane vs. Breece Hall

While the Jets’ offense isn’t much to speak of given their quarterback situation, running back Breece Hall is a potential game-wrecker.

Hall is an explosive back who has become one of the league’s best big-play threats at the position. He has six breakaway runs—runs of 15 yards or more—which is tied for eighth among backs, and he’s picked up 259 yards on those rushes, per PFF. The latter is the second-most at the position and accounts for 52.5 percent of his total rushing yards.

Part of the reason why the 2022 second-round pick has put up those numbers is he’s forced 18 missed tackles—tied for 19th—and averages 3.57 yards after first contact—tied for fifth. Clearly, the Raiders need to keep him in check to limit New York’s explosive plays, and a lot of that responsibility is going to fall on Robert Spillane’s shoulders.

Spillane has been a quality run defender for the majority of the campaign, ranking tied for 18th among linebackers with a 79.1 PFF grade in that department and tied for 13th with 17 run stops. However, his 12 missed tackles—tied for the fifth-most at the position—could be a major issue in this matchup.

Granted, Spillane has cleaned up his tackling recently as a lot of those misses came early in the year and he’s only had three whiffs in the last five games. But he certainly needs to continue that trend or Sunday could be a long day for Las Vegas’ defense.