Raiders’ Stats, Storylines, and Keys to Victory this Week in Cincinnati

The Raiders’ reward for winning the 2021 game of the year?

A date with a Bengals team that beat them by 19 points a mere two months ago.

But a lot has changed in the ensuing two months: Rich Bisaccia has gotten more aggressive, the Raiders are on a four-game winning streak and even the run game is improved.

Will that be enough to defeat the Bengals in a rematch?

Let’s look at the trends from the first meeting to determine a path to victory.

1. Protect Derek Carr

In the first meeting, the “Bengals pressured [Derek] Carr on 40% of his dropbacks,” per Rich Hribar.

Unfortunately, that pressure was noticeable on the field, resulting in two sacks and one interception, and in the advanced statistics, where that game ranks as Carr’s second-worst of the season, per Tucker Boynton:

For the season, the Bengals have a below-average pass rush, ranking 26th in PFF’s team rankings. Therefore, despite the Raiders’ own deficiencies in pass protection, keeping Carr upright and free of pressure should be an achievable goal.

2. Win the Time-of-Possession Battle

It’s not often that you see a time-of-possession stat this lopsided:

Week 11 StatBengalsRaiders
Time of Possession37:2022:40

And — much like the pass-protection issues — it made a difference in the outcome of the game.

With 11:42 remaining in the 4th quarter, the Raiders were only down three points. Unfortunately, as a result of the offense not being able to stay on the field, the defense simply tired out and the Bengals scored sixteen unanswered points to close out the game.

The question, therefore, is how do the Raiders avoid that outcome in the rematch? The answer: Call the plays that are successful. In Week 11 — like most of the season — the successful plays were through the air:

Play TypeSuccess RateWeek 11 Rank
Run Plays38.9%20th
Pass Plays51.7%13th
Success Rate Stats via

As you might have already guessed, those aren’t the plays offensive coordinator Greg Olson called:


As we’ll discuss in the next storyline, running less doesn’t have to mean neglecting Josh Jacobs, either. It means attacking the Bengals where they’re weakest.

3. Get the Ball to Josh Jacobs…Through the Air

While the Bengals have the fifth-best rush defense in the NFL, they have a bottom-five defense when it comes to defending running backs in the passing game:

CategoryStatNFL Rank
Receptions Allowed to Running Backs10828th
Receiving Yards Allowed to Running Backs76927th
Stats via Pro Football Reference

Fortunately for the Raiders, Josh Jacobs has proven not only to be an adept pass-catcher, he ranks as the team’s most efficient at converting targets into catches and second-best after the catch:

CategoryStatTeam Rank
Catch Percentage84.4%1st
Missed Tackles Forced132nd
Stats via Pro Football Focus

Jacobs was stellar at forcing missed tackles against the Chargers. To continue that against the Bengals, Greg Olson should prioritize feeding him the ball, but through the air not on the ground.

4. Waller Time

In Darren Waller, the Raiders possess a truly unique weapon. In the Bengals, the Raiders face an opponent unable to defend such weapons.

In fact, the Bengals allowed the fourth-most receptions to Tight Ends in the regular season, per Pro Football Reference. More to the point, the Bengals have been shredded by elite tight ends this season:

WeekTight EndTargetsReceptionsYardsTouchdowns
6T.J. Hockenson118740
7Mark Andrews73480
14George Kittle15131511
16Mark Andrews1081251

Of course, Waller himself is an elite tight end and he also fared very well against the Bengals defense:

Travis Gilkeson on Twitter: “Darren Waller against the Bengals in Week 11: 7 catches on 8 targets for 116 yards – 47 of which came after the catch / Twitter”

Darren Waller against the Bengals in Week 11: 7 catches on 8 targets for 116 yards – 47 of which came after the catch

Simply put, fewer than ten targets for Waller would be a losing game plan.

5. Bisaccia Must Continue To Be Aggressive on 4th Down

The Rich Bisaccia of the last two weeks bares little resemblance to the Rich Bisaccia who took over as interim head coach in Week 6:

Travis Gilkeson on Twitter: “Rich Bisaccia’s improvement as a head coach has been most apparent on fourth down:* Weeks 6-16 4th-down go rate: 25% (3rd worst)* Weeks 17-18 4th-down go rate: 60% (10th best) / Twitter”

Rich Bisaccia’s improvement as a head coach has been most apparent on fourth down:* Weeks 6-16 4th-down go rate: 25% (3rd worst)* Weeks 17-18 4th-down go rate: 60% (10th best)

The first Bengals game was a great example of Bisaccia coaching scared and the Raiders suffering the consequences, with the team giving up 9.2 points of Win Probability via bad fourth-down decisions, per

Stats via

The newly aggressive Bisaccia could be the biggest advantage the Raiders have in the rematch.

6. Limit Penalties

For the season, no team was more negatively affected by penalties than the Raiders, per Twitter account @AcCOUNTableRefs:

The negative effect of penalties was certainly felt in the first Bengals game, where there was a huge imbalance:

Week 11 StatBengalsRaiders
Number of Penalties1 penalty7 penalties
Penalty Yardage5 yards77 yards

Even worse than the amount of penalties, however, was the impact of two specific penalties committed by the Raiders defense:

SituationPenaltyEPAWin Probability
3rd and 6 with 9:12 left in First QuarterRoughing the Passer2.3-7
3rd and 11 with 4:40 left in Second QuarterUnnecessary Roughness2.1-8
Stats via

These untimely third-down penalties extended drives and resulted in an extra seven points for the Bengals. Avoiding similar self-inflicted wounds is crucial, if the Raiders want to win the rematch.

7. Pressure Joe Burrow with Four Rushers

Joe Burrow had an MVP-caliber season and a big reason for that is his excellent play when blitzed, where his PFF grade of 93.2 ranked first among all QBs.

Luckily for the Raiders, they have three things working in their favor:

  1. The Raiders rarely blitz
  2. Despite rarely blitzing, they have PFF’s fifth-best pass-rush grade
  3. Joe Burrow’s PFF grade declines precipitously when pressured:
CategoryPFF Pass Rating
Kept Clean 94.6
Under Pressure61.4
Stats via PFF

Last week, Maxx Crosby recorded an incredible 11 total pressures, per PFF. A similar effort this week would be a difference maker.

8. Continue to Play Lots of Zone Defense

Per Ryan Weisman’s The Kneel Down, Joe Burrow has had his greatest success against man coverage:

Of course, this works out well for the Raiders, who play Cover 3 over 60% of the time, per Tej Seth:

While they should maintain lots of zone, there is one aspect of their pass defense that Gus Bradley may want to tweak.

9. Mix in a Little Less Single-High Safety

Per Next Gen Stats, Joe Burrow has flourished when facing single-high safety shells, which the Raiders run at the highest rate in the league:

Will Gus Bradley counter this by adjusting his pre-snap alignments? That chess match between Burrow and Bradley will certainly be one to watch.

10. Final Thoughts

The 32-13 final score in the first game is misleading. If the Raiders can avoid the mistakes of that first meeting — while containing one of the NFL’s most explosive pass offenses — they’ll have a good chance of an upset.

In fact, the sharps seem to be betting on it, with 91% of the Moneyline cash wagered on a Raiders victory.

Stay tuned to tomorrow’s column for my prediction.

Twitter: @TravisGilkeson