EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Young quarterbacks. Late-season struggles. Fading playoff hopes.
The Oakland Raiders and New York Jets have a few things in common, including insisting that there's still plenty more to accomplish — postseason or not.
"The season is what it is right now," Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes said. "We all wish for peaches and creams every day and having Christmas every day around here, but we have to deal with what we have right now.
"That's right now, (an) up and down season, and we have to finish these last four games on a good roll."
After setting an NFL record by alternating wins in their first 10 games, it has been all losses for the Jets (5-7). They're on a three-game skid that has seen them go from controlling their playoff destiny to being barely alive.
Geno Smith remains New York's starting quarterback after being benched last week, but New York needs to see drastic improvement from the rookie who has just one touchdown pass and 11 interceptions in his last seven games.
"I think he has it in him," coach Rex Ryan said. "I don't think there's a doubt that he has it in him. We'll find out soon enough."
The Raiders (4-8), who have lost two in a row and four of five, are also getting a chance to see what they might have in their own rookie quarterback, Matt McGloin. The former Penn State starter will make his fourth straight start in place of the injured Terrelle Pryor, who also has Oakland wondering if he's the franchise's quarterback of the future.
"I think we have two quarterbacks that are distinctively different," coach Dennis Allen said, "yet two young guys that have a lot of potential."
McGloin has looked mostly solid in his two previous road starts, throwing for 452 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. But on Thanksgiving in Dallas, McGloin threw an interception in the end zone with just under nine minutes left that led to a long scoring drive for the Cowboys.
"I definitely have a long way to go," McGloin said. "Made some mistakes in the three starts. I can't make the critical error that I made last week."
Here are five things to watch for when the Raiders and Jets square off:
EAST COAST SWING: The Raiders have lost 12 straight games in the Eastern time zone since beating Pittsburgh in December 2009.
They have been outscored 377-198 in those games, but came close both times this year while losing 21-17 in the season opener at Indianapolis and 24-20 to the Giants last month.
"I think our routine is going to be pretty standard as far as what we do and how we prepare," Allen said of playing at MetLife Stadium again. "Obviously, we didn't have the results there last time that we were looking for."
STRUGGLING SMITH: Despite being replaced at halftime by Matt Simms, Smith is getting an opportunity to work his way out of an ugly stretch.
He last threw a touchdown pass on Oct. 20 against New England, and hasn't completed more than nine passes in a game since having 20 at Cincinnati on Oct. 27. Smith's 23 turnovers lead the NFL.
"I definitely feel a sense of urgency," Smith said. "I've got to go out there and play hard and I've got to get the job done. I've been saying that every week. Nothing's changed. That's the way I play every single week."
RUNNING RAIDERS: Oakland ranks second in the AFC with 133.1 yards rushing per game, led by Rashad Jennings, who is averaging 89.6 yards in his last five games.
Jennings ran for a career-best two touchdowns last week, but a concussion left his status uncertain. Oft-injured Darren McFadden has an ankle injury, and third-stringer Jeremy Stewart is dealing with ankle and knee injuries. So the Jets could actually see cornerback Taiwan Jones, a converted running back, at times in the Raiders' backfield.
REX ON HOT SEAT: Less than a month ago, some fans and media were calling for the Jets to give Ryan a contract extension.
Now, amid a losing streak, there are real questions about Ryan's job security, especially if he misses the postseason for a third straight year.
"No, I don't pull my hair out, it's still gray," a joking Ryan said when asked if he's worried that he's coaching for his job. "No, in all seriousness, I've always said it, no chance. I don't think one day about it, I don't. I just think about the opportunity that's right in front of me."
SCORING EARLY: Oakland gets off to quick starts and then struggles to get back on the scoreboard — or keep opponents off it.
The Raiders are second in the league at plus-45 points in the first quarter of games, but 31st in the final three quarters at minus-108. They are also last in the league at minus-55 in the fourth quarter, and were tied or within seven points heading into the last quarter in six of their eight losses.
AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow and freelance writer Michael Wagaman in Alameda, Calif., contributed.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org