It's been 31 years since the Cincinnati Bengals last won a game in the NFL Playoffs, but they are favorites to end that drought when they face off against the Las Vegas Raiders in the AFC Wild Card tonight.
That's because the Bengals have something they didn’t have the last 31 years this time around – quarterback Joe Burrow. The second-year man made a huge leap in his sophomore season, but will he and a dynamic Cincinnati offense be enough to cover against a feisty Las Vegas Raiders team led by Derek Carr?
Find out in our free NFL picks and predictions for Raiders vs. Bengals on Saturday, January 15.
Raiders vs Bengals odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
The Bengals opened this matchup as healthy 6.5-point favorites but early bettors were happy to jump on the Raiders at that number and have moved the line down to 5.5. The total for this AFC Wild Card matchup hasn’t seen much movement as of Wednesday afternoon, still hovering around the opening number of 49.
Raiders vs Bengals predictions
- Prediction: Bengals -5.5 (-110)
- Prediction: Over 49 (-110)
- Best bet: Tyler Boyd Over 40.5 receiving yards (-120)
Predictions made on 1/12/2022 at 4:00 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Raiders vs Bengals game info
• Location: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
• Date: Saturday, January 15, 2022
• Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
• TV: NBC
Raiders at Bengals betting preview
Raiders: Amik Robertson CB (Out), Patrick Onwuasor LB (Out), Malcolm Koonce DE (Out), Jordan Simmons G (Out), Jackson Barton T (Out), Nick Bowers TE (Out), Kendal Vickers DT (Out).
Bengals: Trenton Irwin WR (Out), Stanley Morgan WR (Out), Jalen Davis CB (Out), Josh Tupou DT (Out), Fred Johnson OL (Out), Wyatt Ray DE (Out), Tyler Shelvin DT (Out).
Find our latest NFL injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Bengals are 5-1 ATS in their last six games with a straight-up winning record. Find more NFL betting trends for Raiders vs. Bengals.
Raiders vs Bengals picks and predictions
Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.
Not only have the Bengals not won a playoff game in 31 years but they are 0-6-1 ATS in their last seven playoff games. So, should you be scared to back the Bengals against the Raiders on Saturday? Let’s dive into that.
Well, for starters while some may say the Bengals benefited from a soft schedule down the stretch in order to secure their first AFC North crown since 2015, there is no denying that they took advantage of what was in front of them and played well in the process, with none playing better than Joe Burrow.
The Bengals’ second-year signal-caller threw for 1,476 yards while completing 75.9% of his passes with 11 touchdowns and no picks over his final four games. With a QB rating of 134.9 over that span, Burrow comes into this matchup hot.
Burrow also has the benefit of one of the best group of skill position players around him to get the ball to with potential Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins catching passes and Joe Mixon in the backfield.
That offense ended the regular season ranking seventh in scoring and passing yards per game. And even though the Raiders don’t give up a ton of big plays they still rank 21st in DVOA against the pass.
Speaking of the Raiders, they qualified for the playoff in one of the craziest ways over the weekend. Las Vegas kicked a late field goal in overtime to defeat the Los Angeles Chargers to win 35-32 in a game where they were leading by 15 with about five minutes to go.
That was the Raiders' fourth win in a row, and they needed every single one to get to the playoffs. So, despite having the 19th ranked offense and the 17th ranked defense per DVOA, the Raiders are here thanks to scrappy play from Derek Carr and a defense that keeps everything in front of them.
So, the keys to the game are as follows. Can the Cincinnati offensive line hold up against a strong Raiders pass rush that will try to use the front four to create pressure? Will Burrow and his wideouts have a big enough edge over the Las Vegas secondary to negate that pass rush? How effective can Darren Waller be?
Cincinnati won the Nov. 21 meeting 32-13 in Las Vegas but the game was 13-6 heading to the fourth and Carr had two bad turnovers late to make the score wonky. And in that game, they limited Joe Burrow to just 148 yards and sacked him three times.
But, he didn’t turn over the ball and took what the defense gave him and that paved the way for a big day for Mixon, who rushed 30 times for 123 yards and two scores.
While the Raiders have some of the tools required to slow down Burrow, the balance of the Bengals' offense will in the end be the undoing for Vegas. And eventually, one of those standout receivers will make a big play against a shaky Raiders secondary.
On top of that, Waller played last week but he did not look 100% and it will be interesting to see if the Raiders can move the ball as effectively with this current version of him.
This comes down to Joe Burrow. He just has a different feel to him. The guy is just a winner and his teammates feed off his confidence. I’m not saying the Bengals are Super Bowl-bound or anything, but they have the talent to take out the Raiders here, end that 31-year drought, and cover the spread in the process.
Prediction: Bengals -5.5 (-110)
When it comes to the total there has been little movement so far but jumping on the Over now might be the prudent thing to do before it does start to move.
We already broke down at length how the Bengals' offense can be successful. As noted, the Bengals have the No. 7 scoring offense in the NFL putting up 27.1 points per game, and will now face a defense that gave up the seventh most points this season at 25.8 points allowed per contest.
And frankly, that number could be bigger, as the Raiders really struggled against competent offenses like the Chargers, Chiefs, and Cowboys while shutting down teams like the Broncos, Browns, and the Washington Football Team.
The Raiders also are the owners of the NFL’s worst red-zone defense when it comes to touchdown scoring percentage.
Meanwhile, theoretically, Waller should be healthier this week and will go against a Bengals defense that struggled against tight ends and still ranked 19th in DVOA despite playing a schedule that certainly wasn’t the toughest in the NFL this season.
Carr should be able to do enough in this game against a defense that gave up 25.8 points per game over its last five meaningful contests. This one should sneak Over the total.
Prediction: Over 49 (-110)
Burrow has one of the most talented wide receiver groups to work with in the NFL.
With Chase and Higgins getting most of the headlines these days (and deservedly so), Tyler Boyd tends to get overlooked now, but that doesn’t make him any less important to the Bengals.
Boyd ended the regular season with an impressive 67 receptions and 828 yards with five scores, despite the big seasons for Chase and Higgins. And more importantly for this matchup, Boyd has the right skillset to take advantage of the Raiders secondary.
Las Vegas is good at limiting explosive plays, which is of course the specialty of Burrow and Chase. But this still isn’t a great — or even good — Raiders secondary, not to mention they're a little banged up, and they are vulnerable underneath and over the middle... which is where Boyd does his best work.
And in the Nov. 21 meeting, Burrow targeted Boyd eight times, with him hauling in six of those passes for 49 yards. That started a string of Boyd going for 49 or more yards five times in his final seven games.
So, it’s a little surprising to see his yardage total as low as it is for this matchup. Look for Boyd to become Burrow’s security blanket in this matchup and bet him to go Over his receiving yards total.
Pick: Tyler Boyd Over 40.5 receiving yards (-120)