How to Bet Bengals vs Raiders
AFC Super Wild Card Round
Las Vegas Raiders @ Cincinnati Bengals -6 | O/U 49.5
Saturday January 15th @ 4:30pm EST
Paul Brown Stadium – Cincinnati, OH
Let’s pretend we are back in the preseason in August. I tell you that the Bengals will win the AFC North and have a home playoff date with the Raiders. A Raiders team that is coached by Rich Bisaccia, not Jon Gruden, and Darren Waller only had 665 receiving yards. Hard to believe right? Well, one of these teams will be playing in the divisional round with plenty of momentum.
The Raiders had to win their last 4 games to get into the dance, including wins against now eliminated Indianapolis and Los Angeles in the last two weeks. Joe Burrow and the Bengals are coming off an electric 34-31 win over Kansas City in week 17. They also rested many of their starters in preparation for their first playoff game since 2015.
Can the Raiders Slow Down Joe Burrow?
In Joe Burrow’s last 4 games of the regular season he threw for 1446 yards, 11 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. With his dynamic group of weapons in Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Joe Mixon and Tyler Boyd it’d be tough for any defense to hold down the Bengals. Let alone the Raiders. The Las Vegas secondary is one of the least opportunistic groups in the NFL, their interception rate this season ranks 32nd at less than 1%.
What Gus Bradley’s defense will rely on though is it’s front 4, more specifically Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue. In Bradley’s scheme the Raiders like to rely on getting pressure with 4, they blitz at the lowest rate in the NFL at just 11.4%. But even with a really low blitz rate they are still 18th in QB pressure rate, so they do a good job getting pressure all things considered.
This could spell trouble for Joe Burrow and the Bengals offensive line. PFF grades the Bengals offensive line as the 8th worst group in pass protection. Burrow has been pressured on 33.3% of his dropbacks this season. Teams haven’t needed to blitz to find success either as Burrow’s turnover worthy play rate is actually higher when he isn’t blitzed and his yards per attempt is lower as well.
If the Raiders cannot get pressure without the blitz then it’ll be a long night defensively. Their pass defense has been pretty respectable this season as opponents are averaging 6.3 yards per pass attempt (6th in NFL). But with 32-year old Casey Hayward leading the secondary it’ll be hard to contain the Bengals plethora of young weapons.
Will Trey Hendrickson Wreck This Game?
The Bengals defense looks like a completely different unit this season and Trey Hendrickson has played a major role. He’s fifth in the NFL in sacks at 14.0 and has 12 tackles for loss. The Bengals went from a league worst 17 total team sacks in 2020 to 42 this season. Yes, you are reading that right. Just a ridiculous turnaround that has sparked this team.
The Raiders have been one of the more pass happy teams in the NFL this season, throwing the ball on 61.7% plays (7th in NFL). But their offensive line has also been a bit of a mess. Rookie 1st round pick Alex Leatherwood has struggled and bounced from right tackle to right guard, a position he played very little in college. But they’ve weathered the storm and been a pretty middling unit this season (15th in sack rate).
Derek Carr has found major success in this pass heavy scheme and is maybe one of the leagues most underrated quarterbacks. He was 5th in passing yards (5,804), 5th in completion percentage (68.4%) and 6th in yards per attempt (7.7). But they’ve struggled to finish drives, scoring a touchdown on just 51.7% of trips inside the red zone.
This was a difference maker in their loss to the Bengals in week 11 at Allegiant Stadium. The defense had a sack-fumble of Joe Burrow and brought it all the way to the Cincinnati 9-yard line. But the Raiders walked away with a field goal. Darren Waller could play a huge factor in that department with another week to heal up. In 2020, Waller was third in the entire NFL in red zone targets.
How to Bet This Game
Darren Waller to score a TD @ +190
I think the Bengals are coming into this game a little overrated. Not just by the public but I see this line as a little inflated by the bookmakers. Cincinnati left tackle Jonah Williams has given up the 7th most sacks this season, he’s got a lot on his plate with Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby. I’m not ready to say the Raiders will win this game but I think they stay inside this number. It opened at 6.5 so you may want to get in on it before it gets any lower.