For the first time in almost two decades, the Las Vegas Raiders will take part in a playoff game they actually have a chance to win (No, you didn’t believe in Connor Cook either). The Silver and Black will travel to Cincinnati to face an immensely potent Bengals team, led by second-year quarterback Joe Burrow. While these two teams faced off way back in Week 11, both squads looked much improved as the season came to a close. In some cases, at least.
Carr vs. The Cold
Derek Carr finally got the proverbial monkey off his back, leading the Raiders as they defeated the Los Angeles Chargers to clinch a playoff spot. His reward? A Saturday afternoon matchup in what should be frigid temperatures! History has not been very kind to DC in cold weather games; the colder it gets, the worse he’s looked throughout his career. As it stands, the weather in Cincinnati will be near 37 degrees or less around kickoff. What is Carr’s record in games with similar climates?
0-5. His stats aren’t winning any beauty pageants in those tilts either. The Raiders have shown they don’t need Carr to throw for 300+ yards to secure a victory, but he will need to make some timely throws if Las Vegas has any hopes of advancing. Tighten that Bible belt, Derek. Time to toss out another narrative.
Stopping Joe Mixon
When the Bengals are brought up as a threat, many immediately point to the young star quarterback and his trio of electric receivers, and with good reason. But one should not forget about running back Joe Mixon. Especially not the Raiders. When these two teams met in Week 11, Mixon rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns. The Raiders’ defense has shown down the stretch that they can stuff quality backs, but when the passing game is a major threat as well, the numbers are a bit more shaky.
If the Raiders can get out to an early lead like they did against the Chargers in Week 17, they can allow their talented defensive line to pin their ears back and rush Burrow (similar to the way they were able to negate Austin Ekeler in the season finale).
Working Waller Back
Much to the delight of Raider Nation, Darren Waller made his return this past week against the Chargers. As expected, there was a bit of rust and a few miscommunications with Carr. No. 4 missed Waller in the back of the end zone in overtime for what would’ve been a game winner, and Waller himself had a few uncharacteristic drops as well. The All-Pro tight end would finish with two catches for 22 yards on nine targets. The Bengals averaged 37 points in their last two meaningful games. The Raiders will need to score and get their best weapons involved to fight fire with fire.
*Top Photo: The Bengals Wire