For the bleeding hearts of pro football, Saturday evening’s NFL playoff opener between the Las Vegas Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Wild Card Round is right up their alley.
The once-proud Raiders franchise has had to persevere through an incredibly trying season that included the resignation of their head coach Jon Gruden, the release of wide receiver Henry Ruggs after he was at fault in a DWI crash killing another driver, and the death of franchise icon John Madden.
With Rich Bisaccia at the helm, the Raiders strung together a four-game win streak to end the regular season — including an overtime winner in the finale against the Los Angeles Chargers — to make their first playoff appearance since 2016 and just their second since 2003.
They head to Cincinnati to face a Bengals franchise that had won just six games combined over the last two seasons before going 10-7 and winning the AFC North for the first time since 2015 — which was also the last time they’ve seen the playoffs.
When it comes to playoff success, the Bengals haven’t had any. Each of their previous seven postseason appearances saw them bounced in the Wild Card Round. They haven’t won a playoff game since January of 1991, which was two years after losing Super Bowl XXIII to the San Francisco 49ers.
Something has to give on Saturday (4:30 p.m. ET, NBC). Either the Bengals — who defeated the Raiders 32-13 in a Week 11 meeting in Las Vegas earlier this season — will win their first playoff game in 31 years or the Raiders move on to the Divisional Round for the first time in 19 years, when they ultimately lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Raiders vs. Bengals AFC Wild Card Tale of the Tape
|No. 5 Raiders||Stat (Rank)||No. 4 Bengals|
|10-7 (2nd, AFC West)||Record||10-7 (1st AFC North)|
|22.0 (18th in NFL)||Points/game||27.1 (7th in NFL)|
|268.6 (6th in NFL)||Passing yards/game||259.0 (7th in NFL)|
|95.1 (28th in NFL)||Rushing yards/game||102.4 (23rd in NFL)|
|25.8 (26th in NFL)||Points allowed/game||22.1 (17th in NFL)|
|222.9 (13th in NFL)||Passing yards allowed/game||248.3 (26th in NFL)|
|114.3 (19th in NFL)||Rushing yards allowed/game||102.4 (5th in NFL)|
Raiders vs. Bengals AFC Wild Card Players to Watch
- Joe Burrow, QB, CIN: 70.4% completion rating (best in NFL), 4,611 yards, 34 TD, 14 INT
- Ja’Marr Chase, WR, CIN: 81 receptions, 1,455 yards, 13 TD
- Joe Mixon, RB, CIN: 292 carries, 1,205 yards, 13 TD
- Trey Hendrickson, DE, CIN: 34 tackles, 14.0 sacks, 27 QB hits, 3 forced fumbles
- Derek Carr, QB, LV: 68.4% completion rating, 4,804 yards, 23 TD, 14 INT
- Hunter Renfrow, WR, LV: 103 receptions, 1,038 yards, 9 TD
- Josh Jacobs, RB, LV: 872 rushing yards, 9 TD, 54 receptions, 348 yards
- Maxx Crosby, DE, LV: 55 tackles, 8.0 sacks, 30 QB hits, 13 tackles for loss
Raiders vs. Bengals AFC Wild Card Odds
- Spread: Bengals -6
- Over/under: 49.5
- Raiders Moneyline: +205
- Bengals Moneyline: -255
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
A version of this first appeared on AMNY.com