Raiders look to improve playoff positioning when they host winless Bengals
Last week on "Thursday Night Football," the Oakland Raiders moved to 5-4 with their 26-24 victory over the Chargers. And with nine days to rest, the Raiders will hope to finish their three-game homestand in style, as they face the Cincinnati Bengals.
Through nine games this season, the Bengals are still without a victory, largely because of an inept offense. They've scored more than 20 points just one time this season and are only averaging 14.3 points on the road. Their latest defeat came at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens, 49-13.
Sunday will mark the first time the Bengals and Raiders have played in Oakland since 2015. The Bengals currently hold a three-game winning streak over Oakland with the Raiders' last win against Cincinnati coming at home in 2009. Oakland will look to extend its advantage in the all-time regular-season series against Cincinnati, as they currently lead 18-11.
Cincinnati at Oakland
Kickoff: Sunday, Nov. 17 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Spread: Oakland -10.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Josh Jacobs
Despite being a first-round pick, the Raiders probably didn't expect to get the type of production they're getting from Jacobs this season. Through nine games, Jacobs has rushed for 811 yards and seven touchdowns on 168 carries. He is on pace to accumulate 1,442 yards on the ground and 12 touchdowns.
Last week against the Chargers, Jacobs finished with 71 yards on 16 carries and added three receptions for 30 yards in the victory. Against a Bengals defense that has failed to stop the run effectively, Jacobs, who is averaging 90 rushing yards per game, could be in line to surpass his single-game high of 124 yards.
Cincinnati is giving up 173.0 rushing yards per game, which is last in the league. So expect to put a heavy emphasis on their running game and play-action passing with Derek Carr.
2. Bengals' offense
In his first NFL start, there were some ups and downs with rookie quarterback Ryan Finley. The positive was Finley completed 16 of 30 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown. The big negative was Finley had one interception, and the Bengals offense only scored that lone touchdown.
The good news for Cincinnati is that Oakland's defense isn't exactly one of the best in the NFL. The Raiders are 26th in total defense, as they're giving up 381.7 yards per game. They're also allowing 26.7 points per game, so the Bengals could possibly find ways to score against them.
Against Baltimore, Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon rushed for 114 yards on 30 carries. Expect to see Mixon used a lot in order to take some pressure off Finley.
3. Raiders' defense
While they gave up 24 points in their win over the Chargers, Oakland's defense made a number of big plays. Not only did rookie defensive end Clelin Ferrell have two sacks, but safety Erik Harris intercepted Philip Rivers twice.
Cincinnati turned the ball over three times against Baltimore last weekend, and they currently are 29th in the NFL in turnover differential at minus-11 on the season. If the Raiders can capitalize on their opportunities, their defense could have a big day against the Bengals.
Considering the struggles of the Bengals offense and defense, Sunday's game against the Raiders could be a bit of a challenge. Finley showed little in his first start to indicate he could be a long-term or short-term solution to their issues.
Somehow, Cincinnati's defense has been even worse than their offense this year. That's not good news, considering Oakland was able to move the ball and score 26 points against a much better Charges defense.
Carr, Jacobs, and Co. could all have big games, as the Raiders will remain in the thick of the AFC playoff and AFC West divisional race with a victory.
Prediction: Raiders 37, Bengals 17
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.