Oakland Raiders vs Cincinnati Bengals: Key Matchups

David Wilson – Nov 22, 2012

The Oakland Raiders need a spark from somewhere to get their season back on track and they will hope to find that in Cincinnati. They need a win, or at least a solid performance to take the pressure off Head Coach Dennis Allen. Another embarrassing loss will only increase talk of Allen being replaced after this season.

Carson Palmer will be returning to Paul Brown Stadium for the first time since being traded to the Raiders last year, and has to have some real motivation to beat his old team.

On the coaching staff for the Bengals is last year’s Raider Head Coach, Hue Jackson. Jackson will no doubt have equal motivation to beat the team and the man, (Mckenzie) that fired him after one season and an 8-8 record.

There is nothing like some real bad blood to make a game interesting…

Cincinnati is neither a great team, nor a bad one, so playing them is a good yard stick for the Raiders in terms of their own performance. Some individual matchups look very bad for Oakland, some actually look quite good.

Raiders offense v Bengals defense

The Bengals defensive line is very good, and this phase of the game will be won in the trenches. If Oakland can neutralise the Bengals pass rush, and work the short and medium zones against the linebackers, then they will be able to move the ball offensively.

LG Cooper Carlisle v DT Geno Atkins. This one is going to be big, and could make or break the Raiders offensive unit. After being destroyed by the Dolphins defense in week two, Cooper Carlisle has played pretty well. He hasn’t had a bad game since. Carlisle is a better pass blocker than a run blocker, and has helped limit pressure on Carson Palmer up the middle very well. That is important as Oakland is now a passing team, not a running one. Atkins is playing as well as any defensive tackle in the league, and has 8.0 sacks already so far this year. That is outstanding for an interior lineman. He has elite quickness of the snap, and uses his height to get under offensive linemen and drive them backwards. He is a relentless ball of energy that needs to be contained, and my guess is that the Raiders will use Stefan Wisniewski to double team him with Carlisle. If Atkins can continually pressure Palmer, the Raiders offense will simply have nowhere else to go.

FB Marcel Reece v Bengals Linebackers. Reece has been a revelation since the injuries to Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson, and totalled 197 yards from scrimmage last week against the Saints. Raiders fans knew very well what he could do, so it was encouraging to see it happen. The weakness of this Bengals defense is in their linebackers, and the Raiders have a chance to exploit that. Reece is so big at 250lbs that he runs straight over safeties, and so fast that linebackers struggle to cover him. Bengals linebackers are especially bad in coverage, and Greg Knapp needs to use that to his advantage, especially on downs when Cincinnati are in their base defense. I like this matchup, and I expect another big day for Reece (who I will be starting in my fantasy team).


Bengals offense v Raiders defense

Raiders pass rush v Bengals offensive line. Out of all the matchups between these players, I don’t see one where the Raiders can generate pressure on Andy Dalton. Failure to generate pressure on the quarterback has been the biggest problem for Oakland’s defense this year, because their coverage hasn’t been bad. The Bengals protect quarterback Andy Dalton very well indeed, and unless the Raiders get a huge game from the returning Richard Seymour at defensive tackle, they are going to have to bring more than four guys to have a hope of getting a hand on Dalton. That in turn, leaves the team vulnerable in coverage.

WR A.J. Green v CB Michael Huff. The first matchup in getting pressure on Andy Dalton will directly affect this one too. Given that Michael Huff only started playing cornerback in the NFL this season after spending his entire career at safety, he has done a fantastic job. He is by far the best cover corner the Raiders have, but he is going against one of the league’s elite receivers in A.J. Green. Green already has 911 yards and ten touchdowns, and he just seems to get better. This is a really tough matchup for Huff, especially if there is a lack of pressure on Dalton. Huff had one of his best games against the Falcons and wide receiver Julio Jones, and Jason Tarver will be hoping he can do it again against the Bengals. But if Dalton has all day to throw, that task will be nigh on impossible.

The Raiders simply have to play better this week and show some execution and poise. A team is supposed to improve as the season goes on, and this team just seems to be falling apart. The rot has got to stop.

With the continual struggles on the right side of the offensive line (Khalif Barnes/Mike Brisiel), expect to see rookie Tony Bergstrom active and get some playing time as he did against the Saints. In all honesty, he can’t do any worse. Against the Saints, he looked like an upgrade, even though we didn’t see him until the fourth quarter.

Staring Sunday, the Raiders have the easiest remaining schedule of any team in the league. Come on Dennis, you have to be able to do something with that…

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