Raiders vs Bengals
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FSM Game Preview: Raiders vs Bengals – Wild Card Round

Franchise Sports Media

Las Vegas Raiders (10-7)  |  Cincinnati Bengals (10-7)


The Las Vegas Raiders are back in the playoffs against the Cincinnati Bengals in a Wild Card Round match-up.


Raiders vs Bengals
Photo Credit: Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since 2016 and only the second time since 2002, the Raiders are in the playoffs. A franchise that had enjoyed being a mainstay in postseason play fell on some hard times and became all too familiar with being on the outside looking in. This year, this team said enough was enough, and here they are.

Quarterback Derek Carr will be in his first career playoff game. Having joined the team in 2014 as a second-round pick, Carr missed their lone playoff game in 2016 due to injury. He has 127 career regular-season starts without a playoff appearance. The Bengals will be looking for their first playoff win since 1990. In that span, they lost eight straight playoff games.

The Raiders won their last four regular seasons games to earn their way into the playoffs. They are looking to continue their momentum and make this a long trip and not just a one-hit-wonder.


Can the Raiders keep their hot streak alive?


Raiders vs Bengals
Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Going 4-0 in the NFL is never an easy accomplishment, and while every win wasn’t pretty, winning is winning. The Raiders showed against Cleveland and Indianapolis; they could travel on the road and still find ways to win, which was always a problem for them over the last twenty years.

After welcoming back starting tight end, Darren Waller in the season finale, the talented tight end showed clear signs of rust with Carr in the passing game. But now, with another week back in the groove of playing, the Raiders are hoping Waller can get back to his spectacular playmaking. Running back Josh Jacobs, who has suffered rib injuries, will also be looking to be in better health and have another outstanding performance on the ground. Jacobs, like Waller, is one of the best players at his position, and when healthy, he can be an absolute wrecking machine for the Silver and Black.

As always, Mr. Consistency, wideout Hunter Renfrow will be a force to deal with. Renfrow has scored in four of the final five games, including the last three. He’s not only become Carr’s go-to weapon, but he is a magnet for the end zone. Breakout wide receiver Zay Jones will look to continue his emergence for the team in the passing department and look to take advantage of his matchup as Renfrow and Waller will draw the most attention downfield. Jones and another wideout, Bryan Edwards, will need to bring their best showing and step up when called upon as their play could lend to the momentum shift required to guide this team to a victory.

The Raiders have positioned themselves to have postseason play for the first time in five years. A franchise that was at one point a staple in the playoffs had seen themselves left out for far too long. With the recent passing of Raiders legendary coach John Madden, this team has even more incentive to play their hearts out for a man who bled Silver & Black.

This is a rematch from their week 11 showing that saw a competitive game turn ugly quickly as the Bengals pulled away in the final five minutes of the game, making the score 32-13 look far worse than what the actual game looked like. The Raiders will be looking to right that lost and get some payback on the road.



The Raiders defense will need to continue their strong showing against a high-powered offense.


Raiders vs Bengals
Photo Credit: Chris Unger/Getty Images

The big turnaround for the Raiders this season has been the play of their defense under the guidance of defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Having this unit play sound tough football is a significant reason Raider Nation gets to see their beloved team back in the playoffs.

The front seven of the defense has been the highlight as it has seen elevated play across the board. Defensive Ends Yannick Ngakoue and Pro Bowler “Madd” Maxx Crosby lead the defensive line unit as they have become mainstays in the opposing team’s backfield.

Among the NFL leaders in pressures, Crosby’s endless motor keeps quarterbacks on their toes and always on the move trying to avoid his pressure. This has helped lead to some quarterbacks not having the type of passing games they are accustomed to having. In the middle, Quinton Jefferson has etched out a consistent presence for himself as he is routinely around the ball carrier making plays in both the run and passing attack.

At the next level, another Pro Bowler, linebacker Denzel Perryman is among the league leaders in tackles and mans the middle of this defensive unit. Bringing thunderous hits and a fierce attitude on the field translates to his teammates, and it’s clear by their play. Surprise standout, rookie Divine Deablo gets better and better each game. With lightning speed and a no fear mindset with delivering hits, these two have made the middle of this unit a strength after many seasons of being a weakness.

The secondary players such as Casey Hayward and rookie safety Tre’von Moehrig have helped reshape the back half of the defense where teams can’t just risk passing the ball. Rookie Nate Hobbs has had his moments where he showed promise. Brandon Facyson can be hot or cold, but when he’s hot, he is fun to watch, and veteran Desmond Trufant has shown in his increased snap count, he still has thread left on the tire and can be a contributor for this young secondary.

The Raiders’ defense will have their hands full for all four quarters against the Bengals. Quarterback Joe Burrow is a legit MVP candidate, who in his last two games, has thrown for 971 yards, eight touchdowns, and zero interceptions—having two one thousand yard receivers in rookie Ja’Marr Chase and second-year player Tee Higgins, paired with a twelve hundred yard rusher in running back Joe Mixon. The Bengals present an amazing, high-power, attacking offense. The weakness is their offensive line which gave up 57 sacks on the season, a franchise record. But when this team gets in its zone and is letting it rip, watch out, it could be the last five minutes of week 11 all over again.

It may seem like it’s asking a lot, but it is what it is. If the Raiders want to be taken seriously and be a consistent contender in the postseason once again, these are things they have to be able to do game in and game out.

The Raiders are back where they belong but it won’t be easy staying there. Still, there is a lot to prove, this is the first step in showing if this team can be back to a consistent presence in post-season play.  The Raiders need to remember the mantra and follow it by any means necessary if they wish to move on: “Just Win Baby!


The Raiders and Bengals play Saturday at 1:30 pm at Paul Brown Stadium and can be seen on NBC.

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-Kalani Lua – Franchise Sports Media

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