Jets begin road trip at Oakland

The New York Jets have gotten used to road trips under coach Rex Ryan, though they usually come much later in the season.

New York begins a stretch of three straight road games Sunday when it faces the Oakland Raiders, who are coming off a demoralizing defeat.

Most sports books monitored by SportsOptions have the Jets as three-point road favorites, with the total set at 41.

The Jets (2-0) have won both of their first two at home, including a 32-3 rout of Jacksonville last week. New York hasn’t played three straight road games in the regular season since 1982, though Ryan’s teams have done so in reaching back-to-back AFC championship games.

The Jets are 11-5 on the road in the regular season under Ryan, and 4-2 in the playoffs.

“We’re not intimidated by any surroundings that we go into,” Ryan said.

Following this trip to Oakland, the Jets travel to Baltimore before an AFC East showdown at New England. Each contest presents a different challenge, but they are taking the trip step by step.

“We’ve just got to focus on Oakland, and that’s it,” cornerback Antonio Cromartie said. “We have to make sure we come in and prepare for what we need to throughout the entire week and get ready for a long trip.”

They’ll be facing a Raiders team coming off an emotional 38-35 loss in Buffalo last week in which it allowed touchdowns on each of the five Bills’ second-half drives.

Oakland (1-1) gave up the game-winning touchdown on fourth down, when a defensive breakdown left Bills receiver David Nelson wide open in the end zone with 14 seconds to play.

“Any time you lose, especially in that fashion, it’s very disappointing,” defensive tackle Richard Seymour said. “But one game doesn’t make the season. You move forward. I’ve been in many games in my career, and that’s one of the most heartbreaking ones I’ve had. You move forward, and you’ve got to get better as a team.”

The challenge will be improving a defense which allowed 223 rushing yards and 481 overall. The Raiders ranked sixth in the AFC allowing 322.8 yards per game in 2010, but are 25th in the NFL this season, giving up an average of 395.5 yards.

“You can’t take a play off, you can’t take an opportunity off, you have to finish everything you do,” coach Hue Jackson said. “It’s tough in the NFL. We have a good group of men in that locker room who, hopefully, have learned a very valuable lesson that we can learn from this and move forward.”

Oakland ranks 27th in the league allowing 127.5 yards on the ground, which may bode well for the Jets’ struggling running game.

New York has run for 146 yards in its first two games combined, its lowest total through the first two weeks since 2007. Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson together are averaging 2.7 yards per carry.

Making matters worse, All-Pro center Nick Mangold suffered a high ankle sprain against the Jaguars and did not travel to Oakland, leaving rookie Colin Baxter to start in his place.

“He’s just not ready,” Ryan said Friday. “It’s as simple as that. He’s doing really well, but a high ankle sprain going against these guys, traveling across the country, it’s not in his best interest.”

In its last meeting with the Raiders – a 38-0 victory Oct. 25, 2009 – New York ran 54 times for 316 yards and Mark Sanchez went 9 for 16 for 143 passing. Though Ryan keeps saying he’d like to get the running game going, its doubtful he could have that sort of imbalance again.

“I thought (the running game) was slightly better (versus Jacksonville), but I’m not concerned with that,” guard Brandon Moore said. “That’ll get better as the season goes. We’ll be OK.”

Running the ball hasn’t been a problem for Oakland with Darren McFadden handling the load. He’s averaging 111.0 yards after his breakout season in 2010, and he also leads the team with eight receptions.

The Jets defense, however, has allowed only one 100-yard rusher – Chicago’s Matt Forte on Dec. 26 – in the last 25 games.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; Darren McFadden is one of the most exciting players in this league, bar none,” Jackson said. “There’s greatness in Darren, and I expect him to play that way as the season goes.”

New York has won four of the last five meetings.

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