Oakland, CA (KPIX)- The road to a playoff berth is there for the taking for Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders. Starting with this Sunday’s matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals (0-9), the silver and black’s final seven opponents have a combined record of 24-41. The only team on the schedule that currently has a winning record is the division-rival Chiefs at 6-4.
That puts the Raiders in good position if they can take advantage of some of the other mediocre to bad teams on their schedule. Even the Chiefs, who looked to be Super Bowl contenders at the beginning of the season, have dropped off, losing four of their last six games. NFL On CBS analyst Dan Fouts thinks that K.C. remaining within reach for Oakland has “given the Raiders a boost psychologically.”
The other thing giving the Raiders a boost? The running game with Josh Jacobs. The rookie back ranks seventh in the league in rushing yards (811) and is averaging nearly five yards per carry (4.8). According to Fouts, that type of production from the running game has allowed the Raiders to utilize the best weapon in football: the play-action pass.
“He (Jon Gruden) wanted to take pressure off of Carr, and that is what this running game has done. Play-action passing is still one of the best weapons in football, because it has a way of controlling a pass rush and controlling the underneath coverage,” said Fouts. “In order to have that, you have to be able to run the ball, because the two go hand in hand. And that is one of the reasons the Raiders have been successful so far.”
Carr is completing passes at a career-high rate (70.8%), and his 14-4 touchdown to interception ratio is the second-best of his career behind the 2016 season, when he was getting MVP consideration. The symbiosis between running and passing game should be on full display again this weekend against Cincinnati, who enters as one of the league’s worst defenses.
The Bengals are allowing the most yards (429.4), fourth-most points (28.8), and most yards per play (6.7) of any team this season. That bodes well for the Raiders’ hopes of picking up their third straight win and keeping pace with the Chiefs in the AFC West. The odds see the Raiders as 10.5-point favorites heading into Sunday’s action. Kick off is set for 1:25 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday.