The Raiders are playing the Cincinnati Bengals again on Saturday, nearly two months after their first meeting — a 32-13 loss at Allegiant Stadium.
The Bengals seized control in the fourth quarter of that game, but the final score is somewhat deceiving. The Raiders only trailed 16-13 with 11:42 to play.
Successive turnovers effectively decided the outcome, along with seven penalties for 77 yards and 1-for-7 performance on third downs.
The Bengals were rather tepid offensively, with star quarterback Joe Burrow accounting for a season-low 148 passing yards and a touchdown. So too were the Raiders, who possessed the ball for a mere 22:40.
Both teams rounded into form at the end of the regular season ahead of the rematch in the AFC Wild Card round. Here’s what the Raiders are up against as they seek their first playoff victory since the 2002 season.
Burrow finished the season with consecutive 400-yard passing games, accounting for eight touchdowns and no interceptions in wins over the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs. He’s poised, precise and mobile, leading the NFL in completion percentage (70.4) while throwing for 4,611 yards, 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Rookie phenom Ja’Marr Chase is already one of the league’s best wide receivers, totaling 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s joined in the receiving corps by Tee Higgins (1,091 yards, six touchdowns) and Tyler Boyd (828 yards, five touchdowns), forming perhaps the best trio in the NFL.
Running back Joe Mixon is fast and physical. He rushed for a career-high 1,205 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Bengals can score with the best of them. They averaged 27.1 points per game to rank seventh this season among the NFL’s 32 teams.
They’re vulnerable along the offensive front, though. Burrow was sacked a league-high 51 times — putting a premium on the Raiders’ pass rush this Saturday.
Veteran defensive end Trey Hendrickson is one of the league’s best. He finished the regular season with 14 sacks. Fellow defensive end Sam Hubbard was also good for 7.5 sacks, giving the Bengals a viable pass rush of their own.
Logan Wilson (100 tackles, four interceptions) anchors the linebacking corps. Defensive backs Chidobe Awuzie, Eli Apple, Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III anchor a secondary that yielded three 300-yard passing performances to opposing quarterbacks.
The Bengals’ defense allowed 22.1 points per game, down from 26.5 a year ago, and ranked 17th in the NFL. Only six teams blitz less frequently than Cincinnati, which primarily utilizes a versatile base 4-2-5 scheme.
Rookie kicker Evan McPherson was relatively reliable, converting 28 of 33 field goals with a long of 58 yards. He was 9 of 11 from 50 or more yards and converted 46 of 48 extra points. Punter Kevin Huber averages 46.4 yards per kick.
Bengals by the numbers
Rushing offense: 102.5 yards per game, 23rd
Rushing defense: 102.5 yards per game, fifth
Passing offense: 259 yards per game, seventh
Passing defense: 248.4 yards per game, 26th