Cincinnati @ Las Vegas
-Raiders CB Brandon Facyson (finger/hamstring) was injured last week. He's questionable, but not in limited sessions on Thursday/Friday. Facyson has been very generous to opposing quarterbacks, even if he can't go I don't expect it to have an impact.
-All others on the injury report either don't have roles on the teams or are going to play. The IR guys (Trae Waynes, Xavier Su'a-Filo, Trayvon Mullen) have been out long enough where we know what the teams look like without them.
Spread updates: The line is sticking at 1, with the public (as of Saturday morning) backing the Bengals. Just 34% of tickets and 21% of cash is on the Raiders. That's exactly where we like to be.
When the Bengals have the ball:
The Bengals offense is all over the place. They had a bye last week, and the week before that they got murdered by the Browns (41-16) before losing to the god damn Jets (34-31). It's a tough 2 game stretch, especially considering they had just crushed the Ravens 41-17 (impressive) and the Lions 34-11 (not impressive. In total, they're 23rd in offensive DVOA and 19th in EPA/play, but it shouldn't be a surprise to see them listed at 29th in offensive variance (from FootballOutsiders). Joe Burow isn't the problem, however -- his game against Cleveland was naturally a stinker, but outside of that he's been consistent. He ranks 6th in PFF grades (85.0) while completing 68.2% of his passes (4.8% above expectation) and gaining 8.7 yards per attempt. The blitz happy Ravens learned the hard way that you cannot blitz Joe Burrow -- his 94.3 PFF grade when blitzed is best in the league, but that shouldn't be an issue here -- the Raiders blitz rate of 13.8% is dead last in the league. The Bengals top receivers by projected targets: Tee Higgins, Ja'Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd, TE CJ Uzomah, and RB Joe Mixon. Chase, an offensive rookie of the year contender, has the highest aDOT of the bunch (14.7), is coming off a couple duds before torching the Ravens for 201 yards. Higgins (aDOT 11.6) handles the more intermediate routes, while Boyd (aDOT 7.2) runs mostly out of the slot and takes the shorter routes. Mixon will handle almost all of the RB carries. The offensive line has been poor - as is usually the case - they have decent enough tackles, and Quinton Spain is a solid LG. However, Trey Hopkins has been brutally bad at center, and had to bench RG Jackson Carmen. They brought it rookie 6th rounder Hakeem Adeniji to replace Carmen in week 9, with similar results. The Raiders defense (23rd in DVOA, 18th in EPA/play) plays a ton of cover 3 zone, a defense that's very good at limiting big plays but can have holes underneath. By DVOA, they're 30th in the league against short passes, 14th against intermediate, and 11th against deep passes. Burrow has an aDOT of 8.9, 9th highest in the league, but his short passing rate of 54.2% is the highest rate in the NFL. The key battle in the trenches will be Maxx Crosby vs RT Riley Reiff. Crosby is up to 63 pressures, most in the league (2nd is Matthew Judon with 52, who has played 2 more games than Crosby). He's helped the Raiders put together a solid pass rush, they're pressure rate of 26% is 12th best in the league but it's far more impressive when you factor in how infrequently they blitz. Casey Hayward Jr (outside) and rookie Nate Hobbs (slot) have both been stingy in coverage, but Brandon Facyson (also outside) has had issues.
When the Raiders have the ball:
Derek Carr does what he always does -- quietly plays solid football. The Raiders offense (21st in DVOA, 20th in EPA/play) is led by Carr's 9th ranking in PFF passing grades (81.5) along with a 67.7% completion percentage (1.9% aboe expectation) while gaining 8.1 yards per attempt. His offensive line consists of 4 revolving doors and LT Kolton Miller (who, to his credit, has been very good this year) -- but you can't have that many weaknesses and not be a bad line. The top receivers by projected targets: TE Darren Waller, Hunter Renfow, RB Kenyan Drake, and Bryan Edwards. Waller lines up as a tight end about half the time, slot 30%, and wide 20%. Renfrow lines up in the slot 63% of the time and handles shorter routes (aDOT 5.9). It's not a great group of receivers, but Renfrow has stepped up with Henry Ruggs (jail) out. Josh Jacobs will handle the majority of the RB carries with Drake pitching in. The Bengals defensive ranking of 10th in EPA/play is not at all a reflection of what's going on -- they're 20th in DVOA due to their incredibly easy schedule (they've faced the 2nd easiest schedule of offenses). They don't do anything particularly well. Some highlights are DE Trey Hendrickson as a pass rusher (42 pressures), DT DJ Reader vs the run, CB Chidobe Awuzie, and S Vonn Bell. S Jessie Bates was fantastic last year, but his play has dipped off considerably, unfortunately for him in a contract year. They're 20th in DVOA and 24th against short passes, which could make life for Waller and Renfrow.