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Raiders vs. Bengals Wild Card Weekend Picks: Tides Turn in Rematch

Raiders vs. Bengals Wild Card Weekend Picks: Tides Turn in Rematch
Tight end Darren Waller of the Las Vegas Raiders warms up before a game against the Los Angeles Chargers. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images via AFP.

Find out how the Las Vegas Raiders will rebound from their Week 11 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. We offer up our NFL Wild Card Weekend picks for the Raiders-Bengals rematch.

The Raiders enter this game fresh off an emotional 35-32 Sunday Night Football victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 18.

The Bengals rested many of their starters in Week 18 and lost 21-16 to the Cleveland Browns, but they defeated the powerhouse Kansas City Chiefs 34-31 in a much more meaningful Week 17 contest. 

Here are my picks and predictions for the NFL Wild Card Weekend matchup between the Raiders and Bengals (odds via FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Raiders vs. Bengals Game Info

Date/Time: Saturday, Jan. 15, 4:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBC
Location: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Weather: 30 degrees, 10% chance of precipitation, 11 mph winds

Raiders vs. Bengals Odds Analysis

This spread opened at 6 points in favor of Cincinnati but has since moved down to -5 or lower at various sportsbooks. However, 62% percent of the tickets and 69% of the cash are on the Bengals.

The total opened at 48.5 and has remained there across the board. Both the public and sharps are aligned again, with 71% of the tickets and 66% of the money on the Over.

Raiders Betting Preview

Record: 10-7 SU, 8-9 ATS, 8-9 O/U
Key Players: QB Derek Carr, RB Josh Jacobs, WR Hunter Renfrow, TE Darren Waller, DE Maxx Crosby, DE Yanick Ngakoue
Notable Trend: Raiders are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games as underdogs 

After a whirlwind season where they lost their head coach to controversy and a primary receiver, this Raiders team won their final four games to clinch a playoff berth. 

Carr perennially doesn’t receive enough credit. He threw for 23 touchdowns and 14 interceptions and graded out as PFF’s No. 11 QB. 

The return of Waller to the lineup will be a boon for the Raiders. When these teams met in November, he exploded for seven catches and 116 yards. The Bengals have routinely struggled against the tight end position, so we can anticipate another big day from Waller.

Bengals Betting Preview

Record: 10-7 SU, 10-7 ATS, 8-9 O/U
Key Players: QB Joe Burrow, RB Joe Mixon, WR Ja’Marr Chase, WR Tee Higgins, WR Tyler Boyd
Notable Trend: Over is 5-1 in last six games as favorites

Entering the season with relatively low expectations due to inexperience, the Bengals exploded on the scene offensively.

Burrow returned from a severe knee injury to throw for 4,611 yards and 34 touchdowns, with a league-best 70.4 completion percentage and 8.9 yards per attempt. 

Rookie wide receiver Chase was sensational, putting himself in the Offensive Rookie of the Year conversation with 81 receptions, 1,455 yards, and 13 touchdowns. 

Mixon solidified the ground game, allowing for a balanced offensive attack as he rushed for 1,205 yards in 16 games. 

The defense was better than anticipated, ranking 21st according to Pro Football Focus, but it's hardly intimidating.

Raiders vs. Bengals Picks

Raiders +4.5 (-106 via FanDuel) ★★★
Over 48.5 (-110 via DraftKings) ★★★★
Raiders team total Over 21.5 (-108 via FanDuel) ★★★
Darren Waller anytime TD (+200 via DraftKings) ★★★★
Raiders +4.5 (-106) + Waller anytime TD (+185) + fourth-quarter Over 13.5 (+106) = (+723 via FanDuel) ★★

SEE ALSO: NFL Odds, Lines, and Picks for Wild Card Weekend

Raiders vs. Bengals Predictions

Raiders +4.5 (-106)

Despite exceeding expectations throughout the year, both squads are slightly overrated. 

They each played in nine one-score games, hardly displaying dominance. If even one or two of those contests went the other way, neither team would be in this position. 

The Bengals played in a disappointing division and faced the easiest schedule league-wide against opposing offenses. 

The Raiders are the definition of mediocre - ranking 19th offensively and defensively according to PFF with a power ranking of 16th overall. 

The Bengals closed as 2.5-point favorites in their Week 11 matchup. Though they won 32-13, it was 13-6 heading into the fourth quarter, making the final score a bit misleading. 

The Raiders are a resilient bunch and routinely find themselves in winning positions. I’m comfortable taking them at +4.5 but believe this will go back closer to +6 by game time. Be patient and shop for the best number as we approach Saturday afternoon.

Over 48.5 (-110)

Both teams rank near the bottom of the NFL in pass defense DVOA – so we can expect aerial assaults from both offenses. 

The Raiders were a mere 1-for-7 on third down in the first matchup, so we can anticipate them improving in this spot. 

The Bengals opened up the playbook in their final two games playing regular starters, and they let Burrow command the offense. He carved up the secondaries of the Baltimore Ravens’ and Chiefs. 

I believe Cincinnati will stick with this philosophy and continue to attack through the air. The Bengals' soft pass defense will allow the Raiders to do the same, and with the return of Waller and the late-season emergence of receiver Zay Jones, they should be able to keep up. 

Look for this game to exceed 48 points.

SEE ALSO: 2022 Super Bowl Odds

Raiders team total Over 21.5 (-108)

The Raiders topped this point total in nine of their 10 wins this season. If we expect this game to go over the total and for them to cover, this is a corollary play expected to succeed. 

Waller anytime TD (+200)

The Bengals are one of the worst teams at defending the tight end position. We already saw Waller explode for seven catches and 116 yards in the first matchup. 

He scored only two touchdowns this season but played only 11 games due to injury. Carr should be looking to get him involved early and often. 

Look for the 6-foot-6, 255-pound tight end to hit pay dirt for a nice boost to our Raiders-Bengals picks.

Raiders +4.5 (-106) + Waller anytime TD (+185) + fourth-quarter Over 13.5 (+106) = (+723)

Another corollary play. I’m expecting the Raiders to cover and Waller to be heavily involved. 

Carr has shown brilliance in the fourth quarter throughout his career, and with the anticipation of this game exceeding the total of 49, we should expect a high-paced finish.

SEE ALSO: All picks and odds. Be sure to check out SportsbookReview.com's community forums and betting tools.

Raiders-Bengals picks made on 1/12/2021 at 8:31 p.m. ET.