The last time the Bengals won a game was in 2018. It just so happens to be the last time the Raiders played them as well. Now that the Bengals are under a different coaching staff, they are hungry for their first victory of the 2019 season.
While Cincinnati has struggled this season, no NFL team, no matter their record, should be overlooked. The Bengals have some dangerous players on both sides of the ball, talented enough to help change the course of this game in their favor. What do the Raiders need to do to win? Let’s take a look at some Bengals game film to find out.
Cincy’s offense runs through RB Joe Mixon
The Bengals best player by a wide margin is multi-talented RB Joe Mixon. Mixon is a special player who has everything you want in a RB. Size, speed, stop-start elusiveness, power behind his pads, and receiving ability. He hasn’t put out eye-popping stats behind an injured Bengals offensive line, but he was able to rush for 133 yards last week against the Ravens. With rookie QB Ryan Finley getting the start, the Bengals will lean on Mixon again this week to help the young signal caller out. The Raiders need to bottle up Mixon and not allow him to break the game open.
The offensive line is in shambles and the QB is a rookie, but the Bengals skill players on offense are dangerous. If they are able to run the ball effectively against the Raiders front, it will open up opportunities to let the ball fly to players like WRs Tyler Boyd and John Ross. This Bengals team has nothing to lose, so look for Finley to try to make the most of his opportunities in an extended audition to secure his spot on a future Bengals roster.
With that being said, Finley is a rookie QB and he will make rookie mistakes. He made two crucial mistakes against the Ravens that directly resulted in the defense scoring. This clip above shows one such mistake on an errant pass to the sideline. If the Raiders can force the Bengals offense into 3rd and long situations that force the rookie to play major league QB, they can unload the pass rush and give him confusing looks in coverage.
Bengals defense has holes
The first and most important weakness for the Bengals defense is their run defense. Cincinnati is allowing a league worst 173 yards per game on the ground. Teams have had success running the football in just about every manner imaginable. Meanwhile, the Raiders have had one of the better rushing attacks in the NFL this year. The big men up front will be able to reset the line of scrimmage and open holes for Josh Jacobs and the RBs to exploit.
Limiting Geno Atkins will be an important goal for the offense. When it comes to rushing the passer from the interior, Atkins has been one of the most disruptive 3-tech defensive tackles in the NFL for quite a few years. He still has the burst to get his low center of gravity under guards and drive them back into the passer. Some may point at Atkins’ modest sack numbers (three on the year) and say he’s past his prime, but with the success opposing offenses have had running the ball, there haven’t been many opportunities for the DT to rush the passer. If it’s 3rd a long, expect to see the offensive line slant their protection towards him.
The Bengals defense has had issues in coverage as well. With the recent departure of starting LB Preston Brown, the Bengals will be forced to field backups to the backups when the Raiders come out in 3 TE sets. Even with Brown in the starting lineup, the Bengals could not figure out how to cover the pass from these sets. Expect to see the Raiders follow suit in a copycat league and deploy 3 TE looks in order to force the Bengals to put out less than adequate personnel to match.
Keys to Victory
- Establish the run
- Stop Geno Atkins
- Scheme backup defenders into 1-on-1 situations in the passing game
- Bottle up Joe Mixon
- Force the Bengals offense into 3rd and long
- Win turnover battle