The Bengals are hoping to continue their Thanksgiving feast this afternoon against the Oakland Raiders. Just like on Thursday, the team will be surrounded by friends, fans and that thorn in the side relative, in the form of Carson Palmer. Just like on Thanksgiving, they will be hungry and ready to feast.
Feasting is exactly what they should be able to do. The Oakland Raiders are coming into the game down and out. The team has lost their past three games and has been outscored 135-69 in the losses. The Raider defense has allowed teams to accumulate 1,314 yards over the past three weeks and the offense has turned the ball over eight times in that span. The Raiders are clearly on a downward spiral heading into Cincinnati.
The Bengals are on a completely different spectrum. They have won their past two games and have outscored those opponents 59-19. They only turned the ball over one time in those two outings, but have caused 5 turnovers on defense. Cincinnati has finally come together as one cohesive unit and is on the rise at the right time in the season.
There will be a few key matchups that will make or break the game for both teams, starting with the quarterbacks. Though, they won’t be on the field at the same time, the fans will be watching these two closely. Carson Palmer has a sketchy past with the Bengals and Andy Dalton is their “golden boy”. Everyone rooting for the Bengals will be watching to see if their new, young quarterback can put their ex-quarterback to shame.
Another matchup will feature Raiders’ cornerbacks Michael Huff and Ron Bartell. They will both have a tough matchup against A.J. Green, who is quickly becoming one of the best at his position. Green is Dalton’s favorite target and the two seem to be able to connect in even the tightest of spaces. Huff and Bartell will be tested early and often in this game.
The Raiders have also found a gem in their back-up running back Marcel Reece. Reece has been stepping in for the injured Darren McFadden and has been phenomenal. Last week the RB ran for 103 yard and tacked on 90 yards receiving. He could pose a problem for the Bengals linebackers out of the backfield.
If the Bengals are able to contain Reece, the defense should have a good outing at home. Carson Palmer has been interception prone and the receivers are only as good as their quarterback. The Cincinnati defensive front has been able to penetrate lines and get pressure on quarterbacks often in games. This should not be a problem against this struggling Raiders team.
Andy Dalton and the receivers should also have a good outing. Dalton has many weapons at his disposal and everyone has been stepping up on offense, including BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The Oakland defense has a tough time against the pass, allowing receivers to get open down the field. If Cincinnati plays at the same caliber that they have the past two games, there is no reason why they shouldn’t shred the Oakland defense on the way to their third straight win.
If Cincinnati can pull off another one, the team will rise above .500 with a record of 6-5. The Bengals will be back in playoff contention for their second straight year and will have the opportunity to start climbing in the AFC North with a Steelers loss.