SERIES HISTORY: 29th regular-season meeting. Raiders lead series, 18-10. The Bengals have won the last two meetings by a combined 67-23 margin, winning 33-13 in Oakland three years ago and 34-10 in Cincinnati in 2012. The Raiders won, 31-28, in a divisional playoff game at Oakland in 1975, and prevailed 20-10 in another divisional game at Los Angeles in 1990.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Raiders, who are bidding for their first two-game winning streak this season, will be looking to take advantage of the Cincinnati defense, which is last in the NFL in total defense, allowing 421.9 yards per game and last in scoring defense at 30.5 points per game. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who has not thrown an interception in his last eight games, will try to pick apart the Cincinnati defense with his throws to tight end Jared Cook, who leads the team with 14 catches for 216 yards in the last two games, and wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who has come on strong with 16 receptions for 145 yards in those two games. The Raiders will mix in runs with backs Doug Martin and Jalen Richard.
On defense, the Raiders have not had much of a pass rush this season but will have to put some pressure on Bengals quarterback Jeff Driskel, who made his first start last week with starter Andy Dalton on the injured reserve list because of a thumb injury. It would help if defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, who leads the Raiders with four sacks, is able to play after missing the Pittsburgh game because of an ankle injury. With star wide receiver A.J. Green also going on IR because of an injured toe, the Bengals will have to rely on running back Joe Mixon, who has rushed 180 times this season for 866 yards and six touchdowns.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
--QUESTIONABLE: DT Maurice Hurst (ankle), G Gabe Jackson (elbow, ankle), G Kelechi Osemele (toe), LB Kyle Wilber (hamstring)
--OUT: LB Vontaze Burfict (concussion)
--DOUBTFUL: CB KeiVarae Russell (finger)
--QUESTIONABLE: T Cordy Glenn (back), DE Michael Johnson (concussion), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (ankle), CB Tony McRae (concussion)
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Raiders run defense vs. Bengals RB Joe Mixon. Mixon must be looking forward to facing the Raiders, who are last in the NFL in rushing defense at 144.5 yards per game. He finished with 111 yards on 26 carries (a 4.3-yard average) and a touchdown and added 27 yards on five catches last week against the Chargers.
--Raiders OL vs. Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap and DT Geno Atkins. Quarterback Derek Carr has been sacked a career-high 42 times this season behind an injury-plagued offensive line that is young in several spots and will have their hands full with Dunlap and Atkins. Dunlap has eight sacks this season and 72.5 for his career, while Atkins has seven sacks this year and 68 for his career, including two in games against the Raiders. He leads NFL defensive tackles in sacks since 2010.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Bengals QB Jeff Driskel. Driskel has been adequate in his first two starts against Denver and the Chargers. This week he is going up against the league's worst pass rush and when not handing off, could be provided with ample time to throw the ball downfield and on shorter yardage situations. "It comes with reps, and I have a decent amount of reps now under my belt," Driskel said. "It will continue to slow down, and I'm going to keep preparing and making sure I'm ready come Sunday."
FAST FACTS: RAIDERS QB DEREK CARR completed 25 of 34 (73.5 pct.) for 322 yards with 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 122.4 rating in Week 14. Aims for his 3rd in row with 2+ TD passes, 70+ comp. pct. & 120+ rating. Has 100+ rating in 3 of his past 4. Aims for his 9th in row with 0 INTs. Leads AFC & ranks 5th in NFL with 69.5 comp. pct. (317 of 456). ... RB DOUG MARTIN had rush TD in Week 14. Aims for his 4th in row with rush TD. ... RB JALEN RICHARD has 90+ scrimmage yards in 2 of his past 4. Ranks 2nd among AFC RBs with 57 catches & 483 rec. yards in 2018. ... TE JARED COOK had 7 catches for 116 yards last week. Aims for his 3rd in row with 100+ rec. yards & has TD catch in 3 of his past 4. Ties for 3rd among NFL TEs with career-high 6 TD catches in 2018. ... WR SETH ROBERTS had 76 rec. yards last week. ... LB TAHIR WHITEHEAD had team-high 10 tackles, 2 PD & INT last week. Has 10+ tackles in 2 of his past 3. Is 1 of 5 in NFL with 100+ tackles (104) & 8+ TFL (8). CB GAREON CONLEY had 2 PD last week. Has 6 PD in his past 4. ... BENGALS QB JEFF DRISKEL passed for 170 yards with 1 TD vs. 0 INTs for 96.2 rating last week. Has 65+ comp. pct. & TD pass in each of his 2 career starts. ... RB JOE MIXON rushed for 111 yards with TD in Week 14. Aims for his 4th in row with 95+ scrimmage yards. Has 80+ rush yards in each of his past 3. ... RB GIOVANI BERNARD since entering league in 2013, is 1 of 4 in NFL with 3,000+ rush yards (3,097) & 250+ catches (259). ... WR TYLER BOYD has 85+ rec. yards in 2 of his past 3. ... WR JOHN ROSS had TD catch in Week 14. Has rec. TD in 4 of his past 5. ... DE CARLOS DUNLAP had 2 PD & sack in Week 14. ... DT GENO ATKINS since entering league in 2010, leads NFL DTs with 68 sacks. ... Rookie S JESSIE BATES ranks 5th among rookies with 94 tackles & is 1 of 3 NFL players (KIKO ALONSO & JOHN JOHNSON) with 90+ tackles & 3+ INTs (3) this season.
PREDICTION: Driskel has shown some positive signs filling in for Dalton and the Bengals are emphasizing their run game again. This week they are going up against a shaky run defense and should be able to create enough plays to get their sixth win, especially if they can capitalize on Oakland's shaky offensive line.
OUR PICK: Bengals, 31-21