As the Raiders look to establish an identity roughly similar to the New York Jets, the clock is running.
It is only Week 3, but Sunday's sold-out home opener at O.co Coliseum brings with it both an opportunity for success and a stark reality of a rough road ahead in the event of failure.
"That's our stadium, our fans, this is our city, and we need to protect it," Raiders coach Hue Jackson said. "It's time for the Raiders to rise up and play. The time is now."
While it's too early to suggest "now or never," the Jets (2-0) might present the most favorable matchup over the next three games. The Raiders (1-1) host New England next week with a road assignment in Houston to follow.
With quarterbacks Tom Brady and Matt Schaub, the Patriots and Texans are even better at attacking with the pass than Buffalo, a team that picked apart the Raiders and scored touchdowns on five straight possessions en route to a 38-35 Week 2 win.
The Jets' attack, as personified by coach Rex Ryan, is more to the Raiders' liking in that they seek to establish physical superiority on both sides of the ball. May the toughest team win.
"That's the way we like to play the game, so I feel like they're playing into our hands in terms of running the ball at us," defensive tackle Richard Seymour said.
"It will be a big-boy pad game," defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said.
The last time the Jets were in Oakland on Oct. 25, 2009, they rushed for 316 yards and beat the Raiders 38-0, the worst home loss in franchise history. Shonn Greene gained 144 yards, Thomas Jones 121 and the Jets kept the ball for nearly 36 minutes.
Five defensive starters and four others who didn't start but are prominent players on defense for the Raiders this season get a second crack at the Jets. Jones has been replaced by LaDainian Tomlinson and the Jets have just 146 yards rushing in their first two games, but they aren't likely to abandon their core philosophy after two wins.
The Raiders are convinced they're a much different team defensively, represented more accurately by the first six quarters of their season against Denver and the first half against Buffalo before the second-half meltdown at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
They like their chances of shutting down the run and putting the game in the hands of quarterback Mark Sanchez, making sure he's in no position to relax with a hot dog with the game in the bag in the fourth quarter, as he did in 2009.
The question is whether the Jets will look hard at the Raiders' difficulties stopping Buffalo and attempt to spread out their offense, looking to get Sanchez throwing quick passes to wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress.
Asked if he thought the Jets would go that route based on what happened to the Raiders in Buffalo, defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan said, "Wouldn't you? We're expecting some of the same things, but I do know Rex's mentality is a physical, no-B.S. type of deal, and they're going to try and establish the run game on us as well."
In contrast to the 2009 game when the Raiders were anemic on offense behind quarterback JaMarcus Russell, they're much better equipped to deal with an elite Jets defense. New York will provide different looks from its 3-4 defense, blitz often and rely on the coverage skills of corners Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.
Quarterback Jason Campbell, who has given the Raiders some of their best play at quarterback in years over the last seven games, is emphasizing staying out of second-and-long and third-and-long plays.
"We've got to stay on schedule," Campbell said. "We've got to stay out of long down-and-distance plays. We've got to control the penalties. I think guys understand it's the Jets coming in here, we're coming off a loss and we want to get that sour taste out of our mouth.
"We've got a tough schedule the first quarter of the season, and we've just got to go out and play."