The Bengals are trying to avoid the first winless season in franchise history and will need to bounce back following an embarrassing 36-point loss to the division-rival Baltimore Ravens last week. Meanwhile, Oakland has surpassed expectations this season and they enter the week just a half-game behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West division race. The Raiders won their second straight game last week to improve to 5-4 through their first nine contests. Can Oakland take advantage of a matchup with the winless Bengals on Sunday?
The Bengals are patiently awaiting the return of No.1 wide receiver A.J. Green, who remains day-to-day after not suiting up last week. It seems Green suffered a recent minor setback during his rehab, but remains close to returning to the field. There’s been no word on shutting Green down for the season and his presence would instantly give rookie quarterback Ryan Finley a boost. The 31-year-old wide receiver has compiled six 1,000 yards campaigns and had 694 yards and six touchdowns in nine games before getting hurt last season.
Oakland has been a surprise contender in the AFC West this season, thanks to their penchant for winning close games. All five of Oakland’s wins have come by eight points or less. They are 5-1 in one-possession games this season but they haven’t been consistent on a week-to-week basis, as evidenced by their three double-digit losses. The Raiders put together another comeback win last week, using a 10-play, 75-yard drive to punch in the game-winning score with just over one minute remaining in the fourth quarter in a 26-24 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. Josh Jacobs rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown while the Raiders’ defense stepped up, forcing three turnovers to help them overcome a lackluster offensive performance.
Youth movement begins for winless BengalsThe youth movement has begun in Cincinnati amidst a winless season but it didn’t look pretty last week in a 49-13 loss against the Baltimore Ravens. Rookie Ryan Finley drew his first career start under center, completing 16-of-30 for 167 yards with one touchdown, and one interception, while Joe Mixon carried the ball 30 times for 114 yards in a losing effort. The Ravens dominated both sides of the ball, as Lamar Jackson dazzled and the defense scored two defensive touchdowns to complete the season sweep in Cincinnati.
It’s hard to believe how bad the Bengals have been through nine games but they still managed to cut starting linebacker Preston Brown earlier in the week. Brown, 27, was only halfway through a three-year, $16.5 million deal, which included $4.8 million in guaranteed money. While he has graded out poorly at his position this season, it hasn’t entirely been Brown’s fault. The Bengals defense ranks 32nd in DVOA, 32nd in yards allowed per game, and 29th in points allowed per game this season. Third-round pick Germaine Pratt replaced him in the starting lineup last week against Baltimore.
The news on A.J. Green hasn’t been encouraging this week, as the star receiver missed practice this week and it is difficult to imagine him returning without a full week of practice. On the other hand, fellow wide receiver John Ross was cleared to return to the field and will rejoin the team for practice over the next three weeks. He will be eligible to return to game action on Dec. 2 after missing the required number of games when being placed on the Reserve/Injured list.
The Bengals come in scoring only 15.2 points and averaging 339.1 yards of total offense per contest, including only 70 rushing yards per game on the ground. On defense, they are giving up 28.8 points and 436.2 yards of total offense per contest.
Carr, Raiders not going to take Cincinnati lightlyA lot of people were wrong about the Raiders this season and they’ve proved the skeptics wrong through nine games. While they’ve exceeded their early-season expectations, don’t expect them to take the Bengals lightly this week. Quarterback Derek Carr knows that the Bengals are going to come out and compete because he’s been there himself. Carr started 0-10 as a rookie in 2014 and he knows how quickly things can change in the NFL, so he won’t be sleeping on the winless Bengals on Sunday.
Oakland has a favorable schedule down the stretch of the season beginning with this week’s matchup versus Cincinnati, giving them a clear path to the postseason. They play the New York Jets next week and conclude the season with a matchup against the Denver Broncos. A 4-3 finish over their final seven games would all but guarantee them a spot in a soft AFC playoff race.
Setback by injuries in recent weeks, the Raiders have brought in several veterans to shore up their defense. The calvary has included linebacker Will Compton, safety D.J. Swearinger, and edge rusher Dion Jordan, who was a former No. 3 overall pick. Oakland’s young defensive line has anchored a defense that has flashed improvements in recent weeks. Fourth-round pick Maxx Crosby leads the team in quarterback pressures with 25, according to Pro Football Focus, and No. 4-overall pick Clelin Ferrell had a breakout game with 2.5 sacks versus the Chargers last week. Oakland comes in allowing 26.7 points and 398.7 yards of total offense per contest.
- Bengals are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games after accumulating more than 150 yards rushing in their previous game.
- Bengals are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight-up loss
- Bengals are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
- Raiders are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 home games.
- Raiders are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
- Raiders are 4-1 ATS vs. a team with a losing record.