Are the Oakland Raiders this good or the Cincinnati Bengals just that bad? As AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow pointed out, when the spread for Sunday’s game was released at Oakland -10, it marked just the third time in the past sixteen seasons that the Raiders were double-digit favorites. And, interestingly enough, bettors apparently didn’t even think it was high enough — as the line has moved to -10.5 in most places as of Monday morning.
As you look at the Bengals, the line begins to make more sense. The last game they played that featured a final score that was within single digits was October 13 — then throw in the fact that they’ve clinched poll position for the No. 1 pick and it’s hard to imagine they’ll get too fired up for the game on Sunday.
Some other things to watch…
Can the Raiders get up for this one?
After being underdogs in all but one game so far this season, it has to feel weird for the Raiders to walk into a stadium expected to crush someone. And after the schedule the Raiders have endured, it’d also be easy to try and catch your breath this week and next before things pick up once again.
All that said, this week will be a big one for Jon Gruden and his coaching staff. Can they keep the energy and intensity up? Can they step on a bad team’s throat and dominate like everyone is expecting them to?
If the Raiders want to be considered a good team in this league, it means handling your business easily in games like this. Consider it another checkpoint for a team trending up.
Ryan Finley Bounce-Back?
Ryan Finley got introduced to the NFL in a big way last week as the rookie out of NC State made his debut in a 49-13 drubbing at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens. He finished with 167 passing yards (16-for-30), one touchdown and two turnovers — which, fair to say, could have been far worse.
This week Finley will get to see one of the worst pass defenses in the league — and one that might actually be worse thanks to injuries to Karl Joseph and Lamarcus Joyner. If Finley wants to show Zac Taylor he’s the Cincinnati quarterback of the future, he won’t get a better chance to prove it than this.
Salt and Peppa face a bigger test
As much as I wanted to enjoy the Clelin Ferrell / Maxx Crosby breakout last Thursday, it was impossible to miss the level of competition they were going up against. The Los Angeles Chargers’ offensive line isn’t great to begin with, and so taking away their two starting tackles made life far easier for the rookie defensive ends than normal.
Then again, they did what they should: they dominated.
This week, the duo will face an offensive line that hasn’t been great, having allowed the seventh-most sacks in the league (31) — and they’ll be well-rested given the extra few days off they got after Thursday night’s win. It’s the perfect opportunity to follow up last week’s breakout with a performance that confirms it wasn’t all a fluke.
Welcome the new guys
With Joseph and Arden Key both done for the season, the Raiders added a pair of familiar names: defensive end Dion Jordan and safety D.J. Swearinger. I’d imagine both guys will see a lot of the field on Sunday given the team’s lack of depth at both positions, and so it’ll be interesting to see what kind of contribution they can get out of them on such short notice.