The Las Vegas Raiders (10-7) qualified for the 2021 NFL playoffs courtesy of an overtime victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in a very dramatic final game of the regular season.
Earlier on Sunday the Cincinnati Bengals (10-7) were able to rest a number of their star players having already won the AFC North. Zac Taylor is doing an excellent job with a healthy Joe Burrow and Rookie Offensive Player of the Year candidate Ja’Marr Chase. The Bengals were 4-11-1 last season.
The opening Wild Card game of the season is a rematch of week 11 with a change of venue. Cincinnati were 32-13 winners on 21 November at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
It was a close match for three quarters until the AFC North champions ran away with the fourth quarter 19-7. Joe Burrow went 20/29 for 148 yards and 1 touchdown on the day, but it was all about Joe Mixon, who ran for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns on 30 carries.
A rested Mixon versus a defence that played five quarters last weekend doesn’t bode well for the Raiders on Saturday. Neither Josh Jacobs nor Kenyan Drake were explosive in the meeting earlier in the season but both averaged over 4 yards per carry in a handful of carries.
Whilst Las Vegas did finish the season strong, a defence that played well and Derek Carr largely impressive at quarterback, we are expecting a home win in this one. The Raiders took up a lot of energy just to get this far, whilst Cincinnati are fresh and have one of the best quarterback-receiver combinations in the NFL.
You have to expect Ja’Marr Chase to break at least one long touchdown, whilst Joe Mixon can dominate on the ground once again.
Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals -5 is 10/11