This is a must-win for the Las Vegas Raiders.
After heading into the bye week at 5-2, the Raiders have lost the past two games and find themselves slipping out of the playoff chase as they host the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
It was a promising start for the Raiders, but second-half collapses are becoming a trend.
The past two seasons, the Raiders reached 6-4 only to fall off the rails. The Raiders again find themselves a win away from matching that record.
Las Vegas was flat from the get-go last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, failing to take advantage of several chances to get back in the game. A completion to DeSean Jackson turned into a fumble in the third quarter that fully changed the momentum and the Raiders never recovered in losing 41-14.
Once again, the Raiders started a game slowly, another common trait this season.
That cannot happen in Week 11 against the improved Bengals, led by quarterback Joe Burrow.
Cincinnati is coming off a humiliating 41-16 loss to the Cleveland Browns in Week 9. The Bengals had a bye last week.
The Raiders’ defense will need to put pressure on Burrow to get back on a track that saw it post at least one sack in the first seven games.
The other big key for the Raiders is tackling. Las Vegas had 13 missed tackles against the Chiefs, leading to big gains.
Offensively, a fast start must include trips to the red zone that turn into touchdowns rather than field goals.
And another big key: Avoid high-cost mistakes, including turnovers. That hurt the Raiders in the past two games, including the eyesore of a turnover by Jackson.
The matchup and the pick
Kickoff: 1:05 p.m. PST Sunday at Allegiant Stadium
Fresno TV/radio: KGPE 47/KFIG (AM 1430)
Records: Raiders 5-4; Bengals 5-4
Line: Bengals by minus-1
Anthony Galaviz’s prediction: Raiders 34, Bengals 23
Analysis: The Raiders’ offense was stagnant in the poor showing against the Chiefs. The key to a win this week begins with that same unit. The defense generally has kept the team in games, but the offense needs to do its part and put up points. … On defense, tackling had been somewhat of an issue all season for the Raiders, but it was a particularly glaring problem in the last game and that has to stop against the Bengals, who in addition to Burrow’s 20 passing touchdowns have a running back in Joe Mixon who has rushed for seven TDs. … The Raiders are desperate for a win and not to say the Bengals aren’t, but Las Vegas will have the home crowd on its side and the opportunity to turn its season back around. We believe that happens here in outright and convincing fashion over Cincinnati.