Here are five keys to victory for the 5-4 Raiders against the 5-4 Bengals.
Derek Carr needs to bounce back:
The Raiders’ quarterback hasn’t been good during this two-game losing streak. Now, it’s not like he’s been the sole reason of the Raiders’ offensive malaise. The entire offense is sinking. But he is certainly a key part of the woes and as the leader of the team, it is on him to find the way out of the funk. Carr, who has committed four turnovers in the past two games, must set the tone early for this offense against the Bengals.
Get Waller and Jacobs going:
The surest way to get the Las Vegas offense (which is averaging 31 points a game in their five wins and 13 points a game in their four defeats) back on track is to get Carr’s two best options going. Jacobs had just 16 yards on seven carries against a bad Kansas City run defense and he is averaging just 3.7 yards a carry this season. Waller had just four catches for 24 yards against the Chiefs. With the Raiders’ passing game trying to find its way in the post-Henry Ruggs III days, Waller must have a huge impact for the Raiders to win. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson and Carr must find a way to reignite Waller against the Bengals.
Chiefs came into the game allowing an NFL high 617 yards passing to tight ends this season. Darren Waller had 4 catches on 7 targets for 24 yards for #Raiders. Foster Moreau wasn't targeted for a 2nd straight week— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) November 15, 2021
The Raiders’ defense had its worst game under first-season defensive coordinator in Week 10 against the Chiefs. In the first eight games, the Raiders were allowing an average of 23.6 points a game and the most it allowed in a game was 28 points. Then, the Kansas City explosion occurred. There were a lot of reasons why the Raiders’ defense flailed against Kansas City. But the crux of the issue was poor tackling. It had been a big problem in previous seasons, but it improved this season. Bradley has to make sure this was a one-game hiccup and not the start of a troubling trend.
Cincinnati rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase has 44 catches for 835 yards with seven touchdown receptions and is a top contender for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. After seeing the Chiefs’ success in the air in Week 10, expect Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow to test the Raiders’ often with Chase, the No. 5 overall draft pick in April. If Chase takes over this game, it could be another long day at Allegiant Stadium.
The Bengals are coming off their bye before playing #Raiders this week. Cinci is 5-13-1 after the bye since 2002. Only the Raiders have a worse post-bye record in that span at 4-16.— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) November 17, 2021
Be better on third down on both sides of the ball:
Among the many problems for Las Vegas against the Chiefs was a lack of production on third down by both the offense and defense. The Raiders were just one-for-nine on third down offensively and it has been an issue for much of the season.
#Raiders went 1 for 9 on 3rd down tonight. This is 4th time with Carr at QB that they converted less than 20% on 3rd down. The others:— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) November 15, 2021
0-10 vs Miami 12/26/20
0-11 vs Washington 9/24/17
2-12 vs Denver 10/1/17 (Carr left game with injury)
Defensively, the Raiders allowed the Chiefs to convert on third down 9 of 15 times. In week 9 against the Giants, the Raiders allowed three third-and-longs in the second half that contributed to the upset loss. These are lapses in fundamentals on each side of the ball that will continue to hurt the team unless they are quickly addressed.