Oakland Raiders fans can taste a playoff spot, but they need to handle their business against the slew of bad teams they’re about to take on.
The Oakland Raiders are coming off an emotional win last Thursday over the Los Angeles Chargers in which they closed the book on the Black Hole in primetime games before the move to Las Vegas next season.
Now, they’re firmly on everyone’s radar as a legitimate playoff contender at 5-4 and have the 0-9 Cincinnati Bengals coming into town this week to try and knock them off.
These are the games you NEED to win if you’re an up-and-coming team like the Raiders.
Cincinnati is coming into this game winless and with a rookie quarterback in his second career start under center for them. If you’re the Raiders, you just took apart an all-time great in Philip Rivers by intercepting him three times and sacking him five times.
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Last week was a huge defensive performance out of this young Raiders team, but now they have to trudge forward without their top safety in Karl Joseph, who was placed on IR after Thursday’s win.
They now have a young pass rush that should have worked up a ton of confidence after dismantling a Chargers offensive line that beat up on the Green Bay Packers the week before.
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Their opponent this week has one of the worst offensive lines in football and has allowed 31 sacks on the season and, at the moment, doesn’t have a real left tackle.
This needs to be another big afternoon out of the Raiders defense, particularly up front. If they can get pressure like they did last week, they’ll force the young Ryan Finley to throw interceptions just like Rivers did.
The way I see this game going is Derek Carr and the Raiders’ offense will be smooth and move the ball effectively as they carry a lead throughout the afternoon.
Finley, just like last week against the Baltimore Ravens, will start slow but then begin to hit some plays to put some points on the board.
Ultimately, I have the Bengals coming in for a backdoor cover of the 10.5 point spread and the Raiders winning this game 33-27. You cannot fall asleep at the wheel here if you’re Oakland. You’re no longer a trainwreck like everybody thought you’d be.
Go out there and handle your business against a winless Bengals team.