An NFL game with considerably high stakes will take place this weekend in Las Vegas. Two 5-4 teams, the Cincinnati Bengals and Las Vegas Raiders, are looking to get their seasons back on track after 5-2 starts. A win on Sunday would go a long way for both teams as far as their playoff hopes are concerned.
After a fast start, the Raiders are still in search of their first win after their Week 8 bye. The Bengals, who were on their bye week last weekend, are looking to get their mojo back after losses to the Jets and Browns. Both teams have enjoyed strong seasons from quarterbacks Derek Carr and Joe Burrow. Carr was named the AFC's Offensive Player of the Month for September, while Burrow's play this season led to CBS Sports NFL analyst and former Giants' Super Bowl MVP Phil Simms touting him as the modern-day Joe Montana.
We'll preview the game along with giving our prediction for Sunday's outcome. Here's how you can follow the action in real time.
How to watch
When the Bengals have the ball
Taking care of the ball is critical for the Bengals. In their five wins, the Bengals turned the ball over just three times. But they committed nine turnovers in their three losses that included three turnovers in their 41-16 loss to Cleveland. The first turnover was the most costly, as Burrow's pass intended for rookie phenom Ja'Marr Chase was intercepted and returned 99 yards for a touchdown. For all of his success this season, Burrow has to do a better job of taking care of the ball after throwing 11 picks in the season's first nine games. Part of the issue has been Burrow focusing too much on getting the ball to Chase, who as expected has received more focus from opposing defenses after his early success.
Look for the Bengals to try to exploit the Raiders' 27th-ranked run defense. This could lead to a big day from running back Joe Mixon, who has five touchdowns in the Bengals' last three games. A key for the Raiders will be how much pressure they can put on Burrow, who has been sacked 25 times this season. That responsibility will largely fall on defensive ends Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby, who have combined to record 11 of the Raiders' 21 sacks.
When the Raiders have the ball
Turnovers have also been an issue for the Raiders as of late, as Las Vegas turned the ball over five times in its last two games. Las Vegas also failed to get much going on the ground in its 41-15 loss to the Chiefs last Sunday night. While the Bengals are currently eighth in the NFL in rushing, expect the Raiders to try to get something going with Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake in the game's early stages.
Las Vegas will surely try to exploit a Bengals secondary that has given up the ninth-most passing yards in football. The Bengals will be focused on containing Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller, who are tied for the team lead in receiving yards. But they also need to keep an eye on second-year receiver Bryan Edwards, who is averaging a whopping 20.7 yards per catch this season. The key matchup will be between the Raiders' offensive line against the Bengals' formidable defensive line, led by Trey Hendrickson, Sam Hubbard and Larry Ogunjobi. Cincinnati's front is more than capable of taking a game over, particularly if it is able to get to the opposing quarterback.
In a game between two evenly matched teams, I'm giving the edge to the Bengals, who should be fresh after having a Week 10 bye. The Bengals should be able to take advantage of a Raiders defense that is 31st in the league in red-zone efficiency.
Score: Bengals 28, Raiders 20