The Las Vegas Raiders have basically had four playoff games in a row and they’re still standing. They enter the NFL playoffs at 10-7 and as one of the hottest teams in the league, along with the Buffalo Bills, who have also won four games in a row.
Now for the Raiders, it’s a second shot at the Cincinnati Bengals (who beat them 32-13 in Las Vegas in Week 11) in the AFC Super Wild Card round. The Raiders haven’t won a playoff game in 19 years and Cincinnati hasn’t won one in 31 seasons.
Here are five keys to victory for the Raiders in this fascinating matchup. Kickoff is Saturday at 1:30 p.m. PT.:
Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow has flashed elite skills this season. And he made an impact against the Raiders in November. But the best way of keeping him in check is getting to him. The Bengals’ offensive line is not great. Burrow has been a whopping sacked 55 times and he’s been hit among the most of any quarterback in the NFL. The Raiders got to him three times in November,
Total QB Hits Allowed In 2021:— Johnny Kinsley (@Brickwallblitz) January 10, 2022
LAR, SF: 80
DET, HOU: 92
BUF, LV: 93
LAC, MIN: 97
NYJ, SEA: 101
CAR, CIN, IND: 109
Raiders’ pass-rushers Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue are stellar and they can change the game. If these guys can get constant pressure on Burrow, the Raiders will have a chance.
I have a feeling Raiders’ tight end Darren Waller is going to have a big game on Saturday. He played in Week 18 for the first time after dealing with knee, back and COVID issues, and had two catches for 22 yards. Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr went to him a few times and missed him because their timing was off due to Waller’s absence. A full week of practice this week will help, and I can see Waller making a big impact. That will make slot receiver Hunter Renfrow even more dangerous because he won’t be the top option if that’s case. It could be huge for the Raiders’ offense.
Bengals’ running back Joe Mixon is a key to the Bengals’ success, he helps take pressure off Burrow and Bengals’ strong receivers led by rookie Ja’Marr Chase. Mixon, who had 1,205 rushing yards this season, had 123 yards on the ground against the Raiders. That can’t happen again. The Raiders’ run defense has improved down the stretch. But it has to keep Mixon in check and Las Vegas will be playing without outstanding run-stuffing defensive tackle Darius Philon, who is out with a knee injury.
Go Josh, go:
Raiders’ running back Josh Jacobs has been rolling lately. He had a career-high 132 yards on 26 carries against the Chargers, and had 126 yards in Week 16. Jacobs is starting to look like his rookie form in 2019. If he can continue to run hard and timely, the Raiders’ offense will be in good shape. He is a big reason why the Raiders closed out the Chargers so the Bengals will have to account for him.
According to PFF, Josh Jacobs forced 12 missed tackles yesterday. That's more than the previous two games combined. That's how you run with the season on the line.— Marcus Johnson (@TheMarcJohnNFL) January 10, 2022
Survive the weather:
It could be ugly in Cincy on game day ... it’s supposed to be snowing in the high teens throughout Saturday night. That will make the running games for both teams even more important. The Raiders have to bundle up, keep their hands on the ball and find a way to win a fifth straight game.
The high Saturday is slated to be 27 degrees.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) January 11, 2022
Zac Taylor on Monday said smiling, "it's not a disadvantage."
Derek Carr for his career in games where kickoff temp was even 37 degrees or less?
0-5, never scored more than 17 points, one game with a passer rating over 78.