TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 12: Oakland Raiders At Cincinnati Bengals

Raiders
Bengals
Oakland Raiders v San Diego Chargers
Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals
Quarterback
Winner Carson Palmer has been sharp for the Raiders, and he should be primed to play his best game against his former team. The Raiders have developed one of the more explosive passing games in the league and Palmer is completing better than 60 percent of his passes. His strong arm and quick release should cause issues for the Bengals.
Andy Dalton is a bright and talented quarterback who started the season hot before going into a slump. He may be out of it now, but Marvin Lewis would like to see some consistency from him. Dalton has size, strength and athleticism and those characteristics allow him to buy time so his solid crew of receivers can get open and make big plays for him.
Offense
Running back Darren McFadden is vital to the Raiders, but a high ankle sprain has derailed his season and he may not be able to play in this game. Wide receivers Denarius Moore and Darius Heyward-Bey are solid targets for Palmer and they will attempt to use their speed to get the best of the vulnerable Bengals’ secondary.
Winner The Bengals have not blocked well enough up front to give running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis many decent opportunities to establish the ground game. However, A.J. Green may be the best receiver in the league this season. He is a spectacular athlete who can outrun and outleap most defenders. He also has solid hands. Keep your eye on Mohamed Sanu as an emerging threat. Andrew Hawkins can also be a useful target.
Defense
The Raiders have not been consistent on the defensive side of the ball and the Bengals should be able to take advantage of their ineffectiveness. The biggest issue for the Raiders is that they don’t get the kind of pass rush that would make up for their ordinary secondary. Outside linebacker Philip Wheeler is a solid tackler who can force fumbles with his hard hitting.
Winner The Bengals are ordinary on defense, but Geno Atkins is a stud in the middle of the defensive line. He is a powerful force against the interior run, as is Domata Peko, and he also excels at breaking down the pocket and harassing the quarterback. Inside linebacker Rey Maualuga is a forceful tackler while cornerback Terence Newman is an underrated cover man.
Special Teams
The Raiders have a couple of great weapons in placekicker Sebastian Janikowski and punter Shane Lechler, but their punt and kickoff return teams have been ineffective. Janikowski is still the best long-distance field goal kicker in the league.
Winner Adam Jones can be special as a return man, and he may be able to find plenty of room against the Raiders’ punt coverage team. Brandon Tate is one of the best kick returners in the league. Placekicker Mike Nugent and punter Kevin Huber have both been good but not great.

The Winner Is

Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals
Winner Bengals
3 out of 4

On the surface, this does not look like marquee NFL game, however the storyline of Palmer returning to Cincinnati and the Bengals trying to save their season gives this game extra meaning. If the Bengals can play for 60 minutes – a rarity this season – they could get themselves a much-needed victory.

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons signals to his team during their NFL game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 18, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 18:  Quarterback  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints hands off to Mark Ingram #22 during the first quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on September 18, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
    Week 3 Tale Of The Tape: Atlanta Falcons At New Orleans Saints

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  2. CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 19: Danny Trevathan #59 and Akiem Hicks #96 of the Chicago Bears
stop Ryan Mathews #24 of the Philadelphia Eagles
at Soldier Field on September 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Eagels defeated the Bears 29-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Week 3 Tale Of The Tape: Chicago Bears At Dallas Cowboys

    The Cowboys rookies have looked good the first two weeks, now they get the winless and injury plagued Bears at home.

  3. PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18: Xavier Grimble #85 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates his touchdown with Ben Roethlisberger #7 in the first quarter during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on September 18, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 19:  Quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles hands off the football to Ryan Mathews #24 in the first half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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