Oakland at Cincinnati
Time: NOON CT, CBS
Spread: CIN -3
Odds c/o 5dimes
The 5-8 Cincinnati Bengals have lost five-straight games but find itself 3-point favorites as it hosts the Oakland Raiders at Noon (CT) on CBS Sunday. The game has an over/under set at 45.5 points according to NFL Oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
Cincinnati has been losing so much primarily because its defense is awful. On the season, the Bengals are giving up 30.5 points per game, which is good for a negative-6.9 point differential given its offense produces 23.6 per contest. Over its past five games, the Bengals have given up 51 points to the New Orleans Saints, 24 to the offensively-weak Baltimore Ravens, 35 to the Cleveland Browns, 24 to the Denver Broncos (while mustering just 10 itself) and last week it fell 21-26 to the San Diego Chargers.
While its defense is a mess, it did receive the good news that left tackle Cordy Glenn will return and Clint Boling participated in practice, too. Its offensive line should be more up to par than in week’s past, which is great news for Andy Dalton and his rushing crew. Dalton has been sacked 21 times this season for 157 lost yards, and the Bengals backfield has no major options over five yards per game outside of Dalton’s 6.2 per-attempt. Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard have managed just 4.8 and 4.2 yards-per-carry, respectively, and Mixon is the only one with significant attempts at 180. Nixon has six of the team’s 11 rushing TDs, and he averages 78.7 yards per game as basically the only one to receive consistent and steady touches.
Dalton’s top receiver has been Tyler Boyd. Boyd has 990 yards on 72 catches and six touchdowns, while No. 2 receiver AJ Green has added 694 yards and six touchdowns as well. The Bengals have three others with 200 or more yards on the season, but Boyd and Green have done the majority of the lifting. Cincinnati has scored 24 passing touchdowns this year, to offset its meager 11 via the rush, but without a much stronger defense, there is little reason to expect this team to do more than it has.
The Oakland Raiders are 3-10 on the season and just 1-5 on the road. Like its opponent, its defense has been a huge problem: Oakland is giving up 29.8 points per game, but unlike Cincinnati, it is hardly even proficient itself at scoring at just 18.8 points per game. Accordingly, it has a negative-11 point differential and finds itself in last-place in the AFC West.
Last week, Oakland was able to get some production out of its defense though, and the result was a 24-21 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the two weeks prior to last, it had given up an average of 37 points per game in losses against the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs. Derek Carr threw a 6-yard TD pass to Derek Carrier with 21 seconds in the game, and the Steelers missed a chance to tie it on a 40-yard field goal as time elapsed. Carr had 322 yards on the game with two touchdowns and no picks, but he was sacked four times for a total loss of 23 yards.
Additionally, the Raiders backfield did close to nothing with Doug Martin managing just 32 yards on 16 tries and Jalen Richard rushing eight times for 24 yards. Carr was a non-factor rushing, as well, with one-lost yard on his single attempt.
Backfield production has been a problem for Oakland the entirety of this season, and Martin does only have a 3.9 yard-per-carry average, which is actually worse than the team average of 4.2 yards-per. Carr has rushed for just 50 yards on 20 tries and the team, of course, has been without Marshawn Lynch since Oct 14 when he suffered a groin injury that has held him out the entirety of the season.
Lynch was not performing sensationally at the time, but the sheer lack of depth in Oakland’s backfield has left the team pass-heavy, predictable, and overall, poor. The offensive line has hardly been strong, and Carr has been sacked 42 times for a total loss of 237 yards on the season. Adding some OL prospects and returning a healthy (and hopefully upgraded) backfield are atop the offseason needs in Oakland.