WHERE: Paul Brown Stadium
WHEN: Jan 15, 4:30pm ET
SPREAD: Bengals -5.5 | O/U 49 points
The Cincinnati Bengals host the Las Vegas Raiders this Saturday in the first match of the 2022 NFL Playoffs. The Raiders managed to get into the postseason after an impressive win against the Los Angeles Chargers, while Cincinnati comes into this one after a loss in the last week of the regular season. The hosts will be looking for their first playoff win since 1990, while the Raiders for their first postseason success since 2002. The weather for this game is not optimal for football (at least on paper), as temperatures will fall below 30°F, and we might even get snow.
The Cincinnati Bengals steamrolled the Las Vegas Raiders in their regular season meeting, but they face a different Raiders team in this clash. It can also be argued that this is a different Cincinnati team. We will be in a playoff environment here, with Joe Burrow and his teammates being the favorites in this spot, rather than the underdogs. It’s worth noting the fact that Burrow might not be 100% for this game, after the knock he suffered two weeks ago. His mobility is questionable, something rather worrying when we take into account the tough conditions that this game will be played in.
On the other hand, we have the Las Vegas Raiders who had to face some tough challenges to get into the playoffs. They won their last four regular season games to rally into the postseason, three of those wins coming against playoff-worthy opponents. There is no doubt that they are more battle-tested than the Cincinnati Bengals. One thing that should be pointed out is how good their defense has looked during the final stretch of the regular season. If we take the Los Angeles Chargers match out of the equation, they only allowed 15 points per game during their resurgence. Their run defense has been particularly impressive and that doesn’t bode well for Joe Burrow, as there will be more pressure for him to create plays if the Bengals running game fails.
There is no doubt that the Las Vegas Raiders are the team that everybody wanted to avoid for this wildcard weekend. It’s tough to face an opponent who already played three playoff-level matches in the past month to get into the postseason. Personally, I don’t want to back either side here, as I find this match very unpredictable. I like the under on the total though, as I find the number too high. Joe Burrow played his worst game of the year against the Raiders, throwing below 150 passing yards. The Bengals rallied behind Joe Mixon in that blowout win, scoring 19 out of 32 points in the fourth quarter. I expect this game to be more low-scoring, especially because the playing conditions are not optimal for a fast-paced game.
Playoff pick: Under 49 points