The Las Vegas Raiders (10-7) have beaten the odds to make the playoffs and will face the Cincinnati Bengals (10-7) on Saturday.
The Raiders have not won a playoff game since the 2002 AFC Championship Game, but the Bengals have been waiting for a playoff win ever since getting their last in the 1990 AFC wild-card round. You know, back when Houston had the Oilers and the Bengals lost in Los Angeles to the Raiders the following week.
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Saturday, January 15, 2022 – 04:30 PM EST at Paul Brown Stadium
The Bengals (10-7 ATS) are a 6-point favorite over the Raiders (8-9 ATS) at many of BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks. The Raiders have won four games in a row but by a combined 12 points. Both teams have gone to overtime at least three times this season. This could be an exciting one between teams not used to this spotlight.
Week 11 Recap: Bengals 32, Raiders 13
It was not a memorable game when the Bengals beat the Raiders by 19 points during the middle of Las Vegas’ 1-5 slump. The Raiders were coming off a crushing loss to the Chiefs that week. But was it really a dominant 19-point win by the Bengals? Neither team cracked 300 yards of offense.
The Raiders (5.9) actually averaged more yards per play than the Bengals (4.1), but Cincinnati was 8-of-16 on third down while the Raiders were 1-of-7. The Bengals ended up settling for three field goals of 51-plus yards.
It was a 16-13 game late in the fourth quarter before the Bengals put together their best drive, which ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Joe Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase. A Derek Carr interception set up the Bengals for another touchdown on a short field, as did a strip-sack lead to an easy field goal without the Bengals gaining a first down. So, the 32-13 final was a bit padded by late turnovers.
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The good news is the Raiders did not allow a pass play longer than 17 yards and held Cincinnati’s dynamic wide receiver trio to 96 yards. Burrow was sacked three times despite facing a season-low two blitzes from the Raiders as is their custom. Burrow also averaged season-low figures in air yards per completion (3.2) and completed air yards per pass attempt (2.2). If that continues, then this shouldn’t be another 400-yard day for Burrow like he had in his last two starts this season.
A concern for Carr would be that he had a season-high pressure rate (34.5%) against the Bengals. The third-down was a nightmare and Josh Jacobs (nine carries for 37 yards) never got the running game going. On the bright side, tight end Darren Waller was dominant with seven catches for 116 yards.
The Raiders also shot themselves in the foot with penalties, collecting seven for 77 yards. The Bengals only had one 5-yard penalty. This could be an issue as no team has a worse penalty differential than the Raiders (minus-25) and no team has a better penalty differential than the Bengals (plus-44) this season. Vegas has gained a league-high 324 yards on defensive pass interference (DPI) penalties. But the Cincinnati defense has only been flagged for DPI seven times, tied for the seventh-fewest flags this year. Meanwhile, Cincinnati has been the beneficiary of a league-high 30 false starts.
What to Expect This Time?
The Bengals have already swept the Ravens and Steelers this season, so beating a good team twice has not been a problem. The Bengals even did it in similar fashions both times with Burrow and Chase annihilating the Ravens through the air while the defense owned Pittsburgh’s offense twice.
Based on recent play, the Bengals would probably like to see more from Burrow and Chase in this matchup compared to Week 11. Running back Joe Mixon stole the show that day with 123 yards and two touchdowns, so the Bengals were able to run on the Raiders. Mixon recently had COVID, but he should be fine to go for this matchup.
As for the Raiders, they need to hang in there and get this game to the fourth quarter where they can win it. Carr has led 30 game-winning drives, the third-most in NFL history for a quarterback’s first eight seasons. He is a respectable 30-33 (.476) at game-winning drive opportunities and also has 24 fourth-quarter comeback wins. This is not an area where the Bengals shine. They are 2-8 (.200) at fourth-quarter comebacks with Burrow at quarterback. Cincinnati failed to close out games against the Bears, Packers, Jets, and 49ers this year.
Both teams lack in the playoff experience department. The Bengals are 2-3 ATS as a home favorite this year and the Raiders are 4-2 ATS as a road underdog. As the first game of the playoffs, I think both teams will be a bit nervous early before settling in. I like the Raiders to get enough pressure on Burrow to keep it interesting through the fourth quarter, and maybe have a chance to steal another one at the end. For my NFL Pick, I’ll take the Raiders to cover to start your NFL playoff picks.
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