The NFL playoffs have finally arrived and the field of 14 teams vying for a Super Bowl is set. Super wild-card weekend begins on Saturday with two exciting matchups.
Here are our best bets for the Las Vegas Raiders-Cincinnati Bengals matchup, along with the New England Patriots traveling to face the Buffalo BIlls.
Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals (-5.5, 49)
4:30 p.m. ET
Burke: The Raiders deserve a lot of credit for winning four straight games to get into the playoffs. They basically had no margin for error and won all four games by four or fewer points, but you wonder how many times a team can keep responding to those sorts of stakes.
Maybe the shared sense of belief is enough to carry the Raiders through what amounts to an awful spot on Saturday. One would think that the playoffs and the associated motivation would be enough, but Las Vegas just played five quarters against the Chargers and the defense was on the field for 88 plays late in a long season. Now the Raiders travel across three time zones to play in cold Cincinnati.
The Bengals rested nearly every player of consequence last week, including a banged-up Joe Burrow. Cincinnati thrives on yards after catch, ranking third in the NFL in that department. The Raiders, however, have held teams to just 10 yards per reception. The game may hinge on how well the Bengals protect Burrow to give him time to throw and find his long list of weapons.
Aside from the games against Dallas, Kansas City and the Chargers, the Raiders haven’t seen teams this loaded at the skill positions. Las Vegas also lost to this Bengals 32-13 back in Week 11 at Allegiant Stadium, although score is a touch misleading in that the Bengals were held to 4.1 yards per play. They had one play of 20+ yards and it was a Joe Mixon run.