Oakland, CA (KPIX)- The Oakland Raiders are fighting for a playoff spot, and the schedule presents them with another opportunity to pick up a victory this week when the win-less Cincinnati Bengals arrive in the Bay Area.
Oakland (5-4) finds itself in the final Wild Card spot following Thursday night’s action, thanks to the Steelers’ 21-7 loss to the Cleveland Browns. A win on Sunday and Jon Gruden’s crew can put some space between themselves and Pittsburgh for the final Wild Card spot.
On paper, this should be an easy win for the silver and black, as Cincy has yet to pick up a victory this season. Their last two outings haven’t exactly been competitive either, with a 24-10 defeat against the Los Angeles Rams and a 49-13 pasting by the Baltimore Ravens last week. As CBS Local digital anchor Katie Johnston puts it, “The Bengals enter this week, like the last 10 weeks, completely defeated. The team is trying to avoid the first win-less season in franchise history, and I’m not sure that they can get that done. A couple of things have to fall in place before this will even be a close contest.”
One of the things that could help would be the return of star receiver A.J. Green, who has yet to play in a game this season due to an ankle injury. But Green is listed as questionable for Sunday’s affair and didn’t practice on Thursday with the team. With Green potentially out for another game and fellow receiver Alex Erickson dealing with a back injury, rookie quarterback Ryan Finley could be in for a rough day at the office.
The one area of weakness for the Raiders has been the pass defense, which, as Johnston notes, “is one of the worst in the league.” But, it appears that the Bengals won’t have the horses available to take advantage of that potential weakness. And, even if they did, Cincinnati’s defense ranks as one of the worst in the league overall this season. The Bengals give up the most yards (429.4), most yards per play (6.7) and the fourth most points per game (28.8) this season. Those statistics bode well for a Raiders offense that has been one of the better units in the league so far this year.
In the end, there is a chance that the Bengals can make this game tighter than the 10.5 point spread would indicate. But Johnston expects the Raiders offense to lead the team to another victory on Sunday.
“If the stars align here, the Bengals can put up better numbers this week especially utilizing the pass,” said Johnston. “But, I fully expect Derek Carr in total control. The Raiders take this one.”
The Raiders host the Bengals on Sunday on CBS with kick off set for 1:25 p.m. Pacific Time.