Why Bengals-Raiders is one of Week One’s most intriguing matchups
In an ever-changing NFL, the Bengals and Raiders have been all-too consistent for their own good.
The Raiders haven’t made the playoffs since 2002, haven’t had a winning record in those 13 tough seasons, took until November last year to win their first game.
The Bengals haven’t missed the playoffs since 2010, but we’re well-aware of what happens when they get there — the participation ribbons come out and the other team goes on to the next round.
We know these Bengals and Raiders. And viewed that way, the regular season opener between the clubs in Oakland doesn’t perhaps seem all that interesting.
But let’s look at it a different way. If the so-very-talented Bengals are just flat-out fed-up with not even being bronze-medal material in the AFC, could they finally take their game to another level? What if all of those years of coming up short flips a collective switch? Their core is experienced but still relatively young. Maybe the lessons learned have settled in.
And let’s consider the Raiders. Their promising quarterback, Derek Carr, enters his second NFL season. What if he’s ready to make a leap? The Raiders are more talented than they were a season ago, and surely, they are tired of the losing. This year, more than last year and the year before that, they are better equipped to do something about it.
So that’s what’s sort of compelling about Bengals-Raiders — the prospect of these teams improving, mattering and digging in. Maybe this year they stand up for themselves. Week One ought to tell us something.
For the sake of the Raiders and Bengals, let’s hope it’s something we don’t already know.