The Oakland Raiders are on their way to Cincinnati to visit Carson Palmer's former team, the Bengals.
When this year's schedule was released I guarantee that Carson circled this game. He was drafted number 1 overall back in 2003 by the Bengals.
Carson is saying all the right things, as usual, about this game but it certainly means a lot to him. I actually thought it would be a bigger story than it has been in the national media but with neither team being media darlings I guess I shouldn't be surprised.
Palmer was replaced in Cincinnati after he temporarily retired by "The Red Rifle" Andy Dalton who immediately found success in the NFL. Obviously it didn't hurt to have possibly the best receiver in football in AJ Green. That duo had combined last year to lead their team to the playoffs in their first year as pros and made it easy from the Bengal fans to move on from Palmer easily.
This year hasn't been as easy for Dalton and the Bengals as they sit at the edge of play-off contention with a 5-5 record. They are desperate for a win and getting one against the Raiders could thrust them squarely into the play-off conversation. With the incredibly poor play by the Raiders defense these past 3 weeks the Bengals come into this game feeling confident.
Even with the mess that is the Raiders defense right now I expect this to be a very competetive game. With the Raiders addition of Palmer I believe these teams should instantly be considered rivals and therefore the records and stats going into this game mean less.
Both teams have extra motivation in this game. The Raiders want to win to show they didn't overpay for Palmer, and the Bengals want to win to show Palmer why he shouldn't have left. It will be very interesting to see how the final score ends up.
The one major weapon that the Raiders need to cover is AJ Green. He has been simply outstanding this year with 911 yards receiving and 10 TD's already. The Raiders will need to double him all day and even then he will still make an impact on the game. The main thing is to just minimize as much of that impact as possible.
The Bengals run game with Benjarvis Green-Ellis has not been very noteworthy with his 3.5 ypc. I have enough faith in the Raiders defense to think they will be able to keep him fairly well contained. I probably shouldn't feel that way but the Raiders run defense has had times this year of looking OK and I have never been a fan of Benjarvis Green-Ellis. If the Raiders are victimized in the run game it will be that much harder to keep AJ Green and Dalton contained in the passing game.
Andy Dalton is a precise passer and can be very dangerous. After the Raiders have been gashed on defense 3 straight weeks something really has to give. Dalton has the ability to extend this streak of awfulness to 4 straight weeks if the Raiders let him. Hopefully that won't happen and some Raider pride and poise will finally show up from this Oakland defense.
This Raiders defense has generated such a pathetic pass rush that there are individual players that have more sacks than the Raiders have as a team. Oakland only has 11 sacks all year where Von Miller (13), JJ Watt (14.5) and Aldon Smith (15) all have more than that on their own. There is no specific reason to expect this will suddenly change for the Raiders but they desperately need more pass rush to help their under performing secondary.
Carson Palmer has averaged over 300 yards per game this year but the Raiders are just not scoring enough touchdowns. Palmer actually is in the top 10 for TD's thrown with 17 but the lack of running game has been a major problem. With the emergence of Marcel Reece at tailback maybe that can finally start to change. If the Raiders get into the red zone then Reece needs to finish it strongly by punching it in for a score.
I want to see Carson win this game with his arm though. After his tumultuous end in Cinci it would be awesome to see him shred them. Poetic justice even considering all the insults thrown his way after deciding he would rather retire than play any longer as a Bengal. Yes, this is definitely the game for Palmer to.dominate. I expect boos to rain down from the Bengals crowd on a regular basis because of the end of the Palmer era in Cincinnati.
The Raiders coaching staff needs to come into this game showing a spark. With Mark Davis' comments after the embarrassing loss to the Saints there is little doubt that the front office expects more from Dennis Allen & company. Here is the time to show something DA, because Raider Nation needs you to give them something to cheer about.
This is a tough opponent but not an unbeatable one. Its a 10 o'clock start and an East Coast game which generally spells doom for the Raiders. Hopefully we see this streak of ineptitude end with Carson Palmer walking off his former team's home field victorious.
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