The Cincinnati Bengals are in the playoffs for the first season since 2015 and looking for their first playoff victory since 1990. The Bengals open on Wild-Card Weekend against the visiting Las Vegas Raiders. Let’s break down the Bengals’ odds.
With the Bengals essentially locked into their seeding as AFC North champions, they didn’t bother playing quarterback Joe Burrow or most starters in Sunday’s 21-16 loss in Cleveland so disregard that result. Brandon Allen completed 15-of-29 passes for 136 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions in the loss but he won’t take the field this postseason unless Burrow is hurt or tests positive for COVID.
Ja’Marr Chase caught 2-of-4 targets for 26 yards on Sunday. Chase caught a two-yard pass on the opening play of the game. Then on the first play of the Bengals’ second drive, he caught a short pass and burst up the sideline for 24 yards, setting the Bengals franchise receiving record in the process. Chase is going to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Chase finished the season with 81 catches for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns. He finished 18 yards short of the NFL rookie record for a single-season held by Houston’s Bill Groman (1,473 in 1960).
In Sunday’s loss, the Bengals broke the club record for most points in a season with 3:29 left on safety Trayvon Henderson’s 29-yard fumble return for a touchdown after defensive end Wyatt Ray hit Browns QB Case Keenum’s arm just as he began to throw. Henderson, a three-year member of the practice squad playing in his 10th career game and second of the season, converted the Bengals’ first fumble return for a touchdown since rookie defensive end Sam Hubbard took one in against Miami in 2018.
On Monday, the team Bengals activated star running back Joe Mixon from the reserve/COVID-19 list. The team also activated C Trey Hopkins, LG Quinton Spain, S Vonn Bell, DE Trey Hendrickson, DT B.J. Hill, and DT Larry Ogunjobi from the COVID-19 list. Mixon will make his postseason debut this weekend against a Raiders team allowing 27.6 rushing attempts per game.
Mixon enjoyed an excellent regular season, notching career highs in rushing attempts (292), yards (1,205) and touchdowns (13). The running back also caught 42 passes for a career-high 314 yards and matched a career high with three receiving scores.
There will be a lot of talk this week about the Bengals’ 31-year playoff victory drought, but with the exception of three players and two coaches, no member of this year’s team has any connection to what is the longest active dry spell in any of the four major sports. Only two of his players expected to be active Saturday, punter Kevin Huber and long snapper Clark Harris, were alive on Jan. 13, 1991 when the Bengals very nearly beat the Los Angeles Raiders in the AFC playoffs.
“Sometimes they don’t know what they don’t know, and that can be a really good thing,” said Coach Zac Taylor. “You certainly can’t avoid some of the narrative that surrounds us sometimes with our playoff experience, but again, these guys don’t have that playoff experience. There are a lot of things they’ve done this year to change some of those things. This week will be no different.”
Weather could definitely be a factor on Saturday when the Bengals host the Raiders. Cincinnati won in Las Vegas in Week 11, 32-13. Mixon rushed for 123 yards and scored two touchdowns. Burrow was 20 of 29 for 148 yards and threw one touchdown for Cincinnati, while Chase caught three passes, including one TD. Bengals kicker Evan McPherson had four field goals and became the 13th player with three of 50 yards or more in a game.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr finished 19 of 27 for 215 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Tight end Darren Waller caught seven passes for 116 yards, while his backup Foster Moreau’s lone catch was a 19-yard touchdown. Las Vegas failed to convert on its first six third-down attempts until Carr hit Hunter Renfrow for 8 yards on a third-and-2 with two minutes left in the game.
- Bengals are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following a straight up loss.
- Bengals are 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 games in January.
- Bengals are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
- Bengals are 2-5-1 ATS in their last 8 Saturday games.
- Bengals are 0-6-1 ATS in their last 7 Wildcard games.
- Bengals are 0-6-1 ATS in their last 7 playoff games.
- Bengals are 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 playoff home games.
- Bengals win this weekend, lose in the divisional round.