The Cincinnati Bengals return from a bye week looking to get back on track with a road win over the Las Vegas Raiders.
Easier said than done, especially since the Bengals have struggled so much after the bye week for a long, long time.
But those Raiders are losers of two in a row and have had to make a ton of changes on the fly this year, including at head coach, so it’s a winnable one for the Bengals.
Here’s everything to know about the contest.
The Bengals started Ryan Finley against the Raiders in their last matchup and the backup completed 13 of his 31 attempts on a day the offense mustered just 246 yards. Cincinnati’s defense, at least statistically, had a fine game but the 0-10 Bengals were just going through the motions.
Carr’s in the middle of another strong season, completing 67.7 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns against eight interceptions. This, despite taking 20 sacks and needing to hold the team together during repeated drama, including losing a head coach. He’s also one of the NFL’s deadliest passers against the blitz so far.
RBs Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake: Besides Carr, Jacobs is still a pretty big threat out of the backfield and has scored five times. Drake is the sort of pass-catching back who has given the Bengals fits in recent weeks.
WR DeSean Jackson: The veteran is a new arrival but he’s going to take over the Henry Ruggs role quickly and can make game-altering plays on a dime.
TE Darren Waller: Arguably the NFL’s best at his position, Waller could dominate this game if the Bengals can shake off some of their longstanding issues defending the position.
Edge Maxx Crosby: One of the league’s deadliest pass-rushers is off to another hot start and can disrupt offenses on his lonesome. It’s another tough matchup for the offensive line right after dealing with Myles Garrett.
The Bengals have two players questionable for the game:
- WR Auden Tate (thigh)
- DT Tyler Shelvin (knee)
The Raiders will miss linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski.
Waller tends to do whatever he wants on the field. He’s recorded consecutive 1,100-plus-yard seasons with 12 touchdowns over the prior two years. This season, he’s caught 44 passes for 494 yards and two scores in eight games. If Bengals linebackers and defensive backs can’t lock him up in coverage, the Raiders’ leading receiver will dominate the game.
The Bengals have a chance to end a two-game skid that started with a Week 8 loss to a bad New York Jets team and then morphed into a 41-16 loss to Cleveland, giving off flashbacks to the miserable prior two seasons. If they can stop the skid before hosting Pittsburgh in Week 12, they’ve got a chance to stick in the playoff race. It’s also a chance to fix the team’s pathetic post-bye performance (2-7 since 2012), proving this is indeed a new locker room and culture.