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Disastrous Defenses Face Off when Bad News Bengals Host Rotten Raiders

Jeff Driskel

Two coaches whose seats are feeling warmer than they would have wanted are facing off in a Week 15 game that has no playoff implications. Marvin Lewis is about to lead the Bengals to his 16th straight season without a playoff win. Cincinnati is sitting at 5-8 SU and is all but eliminated from postseason contention.

Jon Gruden isn’t feeling the love either. In the first season of his $100-million contract, he has led Oakland to a 3-10 SU record, tying the Raiders with the 49ers and Cardinals for last place in the NFL.

Both coaches will have an opportunity to win back some respect from their fans and employers when they face off Sunday. The Bengals have opened as 3-point favorites at home, with the total set at 46.

Shark Bites
  • The Bengals defense gives up the most yards per game in the NFL (421.9).
  • The Raiders are 5-23 SU in their last 28 games on the East Coast.
  • The total has gone UNDER in 14 of the Raiders’ last 20 games (avg. combined score: 44.8).

Raiders vs Bengals Game Center

My Pick: Raiders +3

Despite neither team having anything of substance to play for, the Raiders have been more impressive of late. They’re a lot healthier than their opponent this week, and they’ll be carrying momentum into this game after beating the AFC North-leading Steelers last week.

The Bengals have lost five straight games and their team has been decimated by injuries. With Andy Dalton and A.J. Green sidelined for the rest of the year, the Bengals offense is a shell of itself. This has to especially sting for Cincinnati considering it started the season with a 4-1 SU record.

Even if the Bengals had a competent offense, their defense would still let them down.

Cincinnati’s defense is as fierce as a kitten

The Bengals defense is the worst in the league. They give up the most yards per game and most points per game to opposing offenses, allowing an average of 421.9 yards and 30.5 points.

Their issues start on the ground. They give up the most rushing yards per game in the league and the second-most rushing touchdowns. They haven’t kept a team to fewer than 24 points since October 7 against the Dolphins.

On top of all the yards they give up, they also can’t keep teams out of the end zone. Opponents score a touchdown on 75 percent of their trips to the red zone when the Bengals play at home.

Despite the Raiders not being a shining example of an effective offense, Derek Carr isn’t having as bad a season as you may believe. He has a QB rating of 97.2 and he ranks fifth among starting quarterbacks in completion percentage (69.5), so don’t be surprised if he puts up big points in Cincinnati.

Oakland’s offense is more effective (and healthier) than Cincinnati’s, so I think the Raiders will cover as road underdogs in this one.

If you bet the total, take the OVER

As much as I just ripped on the Bengals defense, the Raiders aren’t much better. Cincinnati is giving up the most points per game, but Oakland is right behind them. The same can be said for the run defense, with the Bengals giving up the most yards on the ground and the Raiders giving up the second-most.

The biggest problem with the Raiders defense is its inability to rush the passer. In what seems like karmic justice for trading away Khalil Mack at the start of the season, Jon Gruden’s defensive unit has managed a measly 11 sacks this season. That’s half the number of sacks of the next-closest team on the list, the Dolphins with 22.

With two of the worst defenses in the league facing off, the OVER could certainly be a smart play.