Rising Raiders intend to keep Bengals winless

Field Level Media

November 14, 2019 at 7:16 am.

Two teams that have demonstrated the impact turnovers can have on a football season go head to head Sunday afternoon when the winless Cincinnati Bengals visit the playoff-contending Oakland Raiders.

The surprising Raiders (5-4), a four-win club a year ago, have used consecutive error-free games to vault into the thick of the AFC playoff chase and onto the heels of the Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) in the AFC West.

After a brutal early schedule in which they didn’t see their home field for a remarkable 48 straight days, the Raiders used a 2-0 turnover advantage to edge Detroit 31-24 and a 3-0 advantage to knock off the Los Angeles Chargers to open a three-game homestand.

Now Oakland, which has the fourth-fewest giveaways in the NFL with eight, goes up against a Bengals squad that has the fourth-most turnovers in the league (18) and the fourth-worst takeaway/giveaway ratio (minus-11).

Cincinnati (0-9) is coming off a game in which it dominated Baltimore in time of possession, keeping the ball for 36:11, and accumulated more first downs than its AFC North rival (21-20). But three turnovers helped produce one of the least competitive games of the NFL season, a 49-13 Ravens runaway.

No doubt, Raiders coach Jon Gruden, whose team had last weekend off after a Thursday date with the Chargers, caught a bit of the Bengals’ disaster at Baltimore while NFL channel-surfing. But he also saw what happened in New Orleans and Indianapolis, and he has used that as a warning for his guys this week.

“I just watched the (Atlanta) Falcons go to New Orleans and beat them — and beat them bad,” he told this week. “Miami goes on the road and beats Indianapolis; no one really expected that would happen …

“I know Cincinnati. I know those players. I know those coaches — two of them were on my staff last year. We’re going to get their best shot, and we better be ready to go or else.”

The Raiders know they can expect nothing less from Bengals star running back Joe Mixon, a former prep star from about 40 miles northeast of Oakland in Oakley, Calif.

The five-star recruit, who chose Oklahoma, will be making his first Oakland homecoming.

The Raiders are quite aware of his talents, however, as he ran through them for a career-high 129 yards on 27 carries in a 30-16 Bengals home win last December.

Mixon went for a season-best 114 yards last week in the loss to Baltimore, then shared the credit with his offensive line after the game.

“I’m definitely proud of how them boys fought out there,” he said. “We take pride in the run game, and (the offensive linemen) did their thing.”

So has Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, the leader of Oakland’s ball-protecting offense. He’s gone three consecutive games without an interception and has just four all season while firing 14 touchdown passes.

Sunday will mark nearly the 10th anniversary of the Raiders’ last win over the Bengals, a 20-17 decision in Oakland on Nov. 22, 2009.

Cincinnati has captured the past three meetings — and none has been close. The Bengals won 34-10 at home in 2012 and 33-13 at Oakland in 2015, leading into last year’s triumph in Cincinnati.