Raiders fans waited for this moment for 20 years

Finally, the Raiders made the playoffs. No hurt quarterback asterisk on this playoff berth. No second-half season collapse derailing a winning season.

Vegas finished the season with an OT win over the Los Angeles Chargers. The Raiders’ biggest win in 20 years almost resulted in a tie. That would’ve let the Chargers in the playoffs instead of the Steelers so I am not sure many would have complained. Still, forget your timeout theories. It is just win baby, not just tie maybe.

The biggest difference maker in that win included the Raiders pass rush and run game. Chargers QB Justin Herbert nearly erased all that with his straight up skills. This week the Raiders draw an equally young and poised quarterback in Joe Burrow.

Looking For Revenge

Last time these teams faced, the Bengals clapped the Raiders in Vegas. The Silver and Black will travel to Cincinnati for this round. Honestly, I am not sure the Raiders could have gotten a worse opponent.

Joe Mixon is a big and physical runner who can break one on any play. He carved us up for over 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Bengals pulled away late thanks to the toll Mixon makes defenses pay.

Burrow completed 20/29 passes in the regular season game. Cincinatti brings size and speed on the outside. This could cause matchup problems as the Raiders secondary been banged up all year.

The Bengals defense is a sleeper. Eli Apple got a pick last time these teams played. They also threw in a couple sacks while a defeceit voided the Raiders run game.

Nonetheless, the Bengals are beatable. They lost to the Chargers and got swept by the Browns. Cincinatti barely beat the Jaguars and lost to the Jets and Bears early too. Their key victories include wins over the Chiefs, Broncos, Steelers and Vikings. They narrowly lost to the 49ers and Packers for what it is worth.

Which Squads Shows Up?

All that doesn’t really matter entering the playoffs. It’s win or go home and the Raiders have had just as many peaks and valleys as the team in stripes. Vegas is going to need a spectacular outing from their entire defensive line. Burrow is among the best versus the blitz so the entire defense must stay discipline. The Raiders registered three sacks along the line in the November game. Let’s double up this time.

One of the reasons the Raiders won 5-of-7 down the stretch is Josh Jacobs’ resurgance. His 132 rushing yards last week versus the Chargers helped them control that game. He also rushed for over 100 versus Denver but the Raiders have found ways to win even when Jacobs is ineffective.

Derek Carr has been mostly up this season. He is top-6 in passing yards and top-12 in passing touchdowns. Carr is also top ten for interceptions. Burrow is right behind him for yards and picks.

Versus Los Angeles, Carr did not have a crazy stat line. However, he didn’t throw any interceptions and scored two touchdowns. That’s exactly the Carr the Raiders need on Saturday. Take calculated risks. Move the chains and score touchdowns. Don’t make mistakes. He threw an interception versus the Bengals but was otherwise efficient.

Hopefully, Darren Waller is available. Waller’s last 100 yard receiving game versus the Bengals. They are a different team when they have Waller stretching the middle of the field. With Foster Moreau, tight end is probably the Raiders’ biggest mismatch over any team left in the bracket. The Raiders got to enable those guys to perform.

Hunter Renfrow must come up big despite everybody keying in on him. Bryan Edwards and Zay Jones must keep up their performances on key downs. We all know the chemistry they have with Derek Carr. That has been on display the past few weeks but it was absent when the Bengals came to town a few weeks ago. Desean Jackson will need to make a big play. He still has one in him.

No drops, fumbles or illegal formations from this entire receiving group. Win those matchups versus Trae Waynes and Eli Apple please. Take shots and try to get calls on them downfield too.

None of that will matter if the offensive line doesn’t step up. Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson both tore up the Raiders tackles last time these teams faced off. The Raiders offensive line is playing better now.

Cincinatti is also beefy on the inside with defensive tackles DJ Reader and Larry Ogunjobi. They are stout against the run across the front four so the Raiders and Jacobs will need to earn every yard.

On the other side, Vegas needs their defensive line to come up big. The starters got to stay fresh even if the Bengals move to a no huddle. Reserves Clelin Ferrell, Solomon Thomas and Carl Nassib will have added responsibilities with Darius Philon sidelined. One of them needs to step up and get a sack. Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue are the primary rushers but they run out of gas. They apply pressure but don’t always get home. Added help from the supporting cast makes their job easier and converts those pressures into lost yards.

Johnathan Hankins and Quinton Jefferson will need to help out versus the run but they also can’t be liabilities in the pass rush on long drives. This will help out all other positions on defense.

Versus the run, Denzel Perryman, Corey Littleton and K.J. Wright must step up. These veterans have playoff experience neither homegrown Raiders or Bengals players can relate to. We can’t afford to have any of them exposed. Divine Deablo saw a lot of time down the stretch due to his athleticism. One of those guys needs to make a play.

Our secondary continues scraping by without key players like Trayvon Mullen and Johnathan Abram. Brandon Facyson and Desmond Trufant were damn near out the league. No mistakes from Dallin Leavitt or Roderic Teamer please. Both played better than expected last week but they are flawed. Nate Hobbs, Trevon Moehrig and Casey Hayward all been bright spot offseason additions for the secondary. One of them needs to make a play this week as I expect them to bend and take lumps versus the speed and size of the Bengals receiving corps. If this group can create a turnover, the Raiders have a chance. The defensive line can help by getting home without relying on help from the blitz.

Complimentary Football

In the end, the Raiders need their entire team to play their best game versus the Bengals. It’s hard to imagine them winning if they don’t come out with the same desperation and sense of urgency we saw them with in the last quarter of the season. Let’s see some Mariota again this week.

Part of me worries they will run out of gas and get merked by a team they don’t matchup well with. Yet, that is why you got veterans like Hayward, Facyson, Perryman, Jackson, Wright and Littleton. Leadership will show versus a Bengals team that is equally inexperienced in the postseason.

Otherwise, the Raiders got to stick to their identity. Run the ball, take smart shots, get after the quarterback and create some turnovers. Derek Carr has been waiting for this moment for 8 seasons. He must earn that Mamba sleeve with a clutch performance in the postseason. His stats are great and probably earned him a year or two more at the helm but it does not matter if he can not help this team get over the hump in big games. This franchise goes as far their quarterback. Winning a championship in the Silver and Black starts by proving you can win a road playoff game.

Same thing with Josh Jacobs. He is banged up and off his most inconsistent season. However, the Raiders need him to control the clock and keep the Bengals off the field. When Jacobs is effective, the play action sets up much better for Carr and company. They also need Jacobs to break a big run off and ware the defense down. This offense is missing that spark from Kenyan Drake. Maybe they can get another big run from Jalen Richard. Either way, Jacobs must show he is elite by pulling away from the defense on the biggest stage. That’s especially true if he gets going early. Jacobs got to show he can wear a team down and finish them late.

The Raiders defense was up and down all year but they got to continue to find ways to make plays and get stops. They offer a good mix of veteran and young players at each level. Somebody got to step up and make a play. It won’t surprise me if it is somebody you least expect.

Great defenses play together and don’t rely on any one player to make every play. That won’t cop Maxx or Yannick out. Big time players make big time plays in big time games, Madden would say. We need big plays from our two best defensive players to drive the defense. Ultimately, we will need a great team effort on defense to handle the Bengals explosiveness on the road. Limit the big plays, penalties and mistakes. Don’t get rattled or fall apart now.

If the Raiders can make enough plays on both sides of the ball, they can win this game. Either way, let’s just hope they come out swinging. That’s what Big Red and Coach Flores would want. Afterall, this is the first playoff game in damn near twenty years.

Before that crushing Super Bowl loss to Gruden, the Raiders were among the league’s most winning franchise. The Raiders got to represent because I know the Nation will. Vegas must remind the league what they’ve been missing without their most prolific team playing in January. Just win baby!

What we want to see versus the Bengals

The Raiders whooped the Bolts butt and it was amazing. I got to witness the greatness of the Raiders in its native home one last time. Shoutout to the Sacramento butcher who hooked it up with a nice cowboy steak. Also shout out to the dude who stole our compact toll box grill. The compact size was incredibly crucial for this quick turnaround. That is the last ride I guess for the limited edition grill.

Well it is on to the Cincinnati Bengals. A team the Raiders have always had weird ties to. The Bengals are currently headed towards a massive rebuild. Here’s what we want to see as we look to look for as we head to the playoffs.

Can the defensive line keep up the pressure?

Last Week, Clelin Ferrell had his break out game with 2.5 sacks versus the Chargers. A couple of those were discounted sacks due to Philip Rivers holding the ball too long. The Chargers O-line is also pretty bad versus any kind of speed.

All well, we will take it. the Raiders young defensive ends needed that confidence booster at home versus a rival and they should build on that versus the Bengals. They’ll be playing with a young quarterback Ryan Finley and down key players like AJ Green who have been hurt all season.

Hence, the Raiders should get another really strong performance versus the Bengals. Cincinnati also happens to be Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s previous team.

Maintain Offensive Momentum

When I said other key players from years past I meant corner Dre Kirkpatrick who is also missing most of this season. The Bengals defense is already in a transition year with other key players missing time too.

That puts the pressure on the Raiders to score. Let’s see Oakland score early and often. Give Josh Jacobs and Tyrell Williams some load management. They’ve been battling various injuries that need rest and there is no need to kill yourself versus the winless Bengals.

Oakland should use Jacobs to establish themselves early then take their shots with Tyrell and company. I want to see Zay Jones make an impact today too versus the Bengals. Derek Carr should dominate and spread the ball around.

The Replacements

Oakland’s safety has been fluid for a few seasons now. They lost Karl Joseph and Lamarcus Joyner who were their best players and veteran leaders. They signed edge Dion Jordan and safety DJ Swearinger to help out. Swearinger should see some time but who knows. Erik Harris played the best game of his career and Curtis Riley has played and started for the Giants before playing in spots this season. Opportunities are limited there for Swearinger.

I’m most excited for Jordan because he has the highest ceiling. His tools are something you can’t teach and he flashed two seasons ago with the Seahawks. The Raiders have plenty of solid guys who can play but they need a specimen like Jordan who can win 1-on-1 pass rush on the edge, even if it is only in spots.

Ultimately, the Raiders need to handle their business as the football cliche goes. They need to build on the last game’s big performance, dominate early and lean on some lesser known characters to send the Bengals home one loss closer to the No. 1 overall pick.

Petty Pete’s thoughts on Steelers win, McKenzie, stadium woes and this week

They say trauma is passed down. If you’re a Raiders fan, you know this by your hate for the Steelers. Unless you read up or watch ESPN classic, you might not know why.

Once upon a time, the Raiders and Steelers has battles in the playoffs. They were physical teams who hit each other and kept hitting each other.

There are multiple classics including the emasculate deception. Nonetheless, as a Raiders fan on this era you might hate the Steelers and not even know why.

That’s why a win over the Steelers feels so good. And that’s also why it felt so weird for Reggie McKenzie to get fired the next day after a big win over a playoff contender.

Why Reggie McKenzie got fired

Reggie McKenzie got fired for a lot of reasons. Mostly, his draft picks.

McKenzie dropped the ball in every second round. He passed on Pro Bowlers throughout. McKenzie only had nine picks on this roster.

Then, there’s the Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack trades. Both players were among RM’s top successes. The Raiders asked McKenzie to trade his favorites because the team wasn’t ready for limelight. Most of that was because Mark Davis didn’t get along with the agent of Mack and Cooper.

Turns out McKenzie could’ve got more. In fact, it turns out Davis wish he got more. What took him all season to realize that?

Speaking of power struggles, we can’t act like Gruden didn’t have a say in this move. Dude got a ten million dollar per year deal to bring Oakland a Super Bowl. He’s gonna be given as much support as possible including his own personnel, scouting and front offices.

All that aside, we got to be thankful for Reggie being the bridge. He got marquee free agents to seriously consider Oakland. A few signed.

McKenzie notoriously got the Raiders out of salary cap hell after Al Davis. He brought the organizations technology and facility out of the dark ages. RM was a small peace of consistency in an organization that needed it in the fallout of losing their iconic owner.

He got us back to the playoffs. Fans loved him. Fans hated him. He signed team friendly deals. He found solid starters and good backups in the late and undrafted rounds.

McKenzie is respected around the league. He was drafted by the Raiders and groomed in Green Bay’s front office. McKenzie turned down an interview for his dream job with the Packers because he believed in Gruden and the Raiders. That was his biggest undoing.

Moving forward

No GM and now no home. It’s uncertain where the Raiders will play next year. They’re being sued by the City of Oakland for a number of reasons mostly that they’re leaving. Now, the Raiders are including every option from Sacramento to Reno to San Diego to Fresno to Glendale.

I get it from both sides. The Raiders are supposably paying anywhere from 2 to 7 million in rent. Oakland will always be their home. The colors and logo were designed based off the city. They’ve always been a cultural icon that connects the different consciousnesses in the Bay. They want to stay but they can’t play where their playing. Vegas was willing to build them a billion dollar home and Oakland wasn’t.

For Oakland, I get it too. California isn’t building stadiums. We’ve got too many taxes already. The city hasn’t even paid off the renovations they did for the Raiders to return in the 90s. They’re also loyal to the A’s who also need a home but never left Oakland.

At the same time, they can’t just sit back and let the Raiders and Warriors leave Oakland within a few years. The lawsuit is an easy PR move.

Either way, the Raiders better leave if their smart. It’s going to get ugly next year if they don’t make leaps and gains. No Marshawn Lynch homecoming or Gruden return can save their relationship with a city they’re turning their back on for the second time.

It doesn’t appear they’re gonna make a lot of on-field gains next year. I fully anticipate the Raiders will continue the purge of players signed and drafted by McKenzie. They’ll field a bunch of their draft picks again. They’ll tank again to get a high draft pick before Vegas. They’ll trade anyone who can get them closer to that goal. Then they’ll get booed every step of the way.

Back to football

The Raiders favs the Bengals this week. It’ll be the second time they face a coaching staff with Hue Jackson. Jackson was fired from the Browns this season and he’s on the Bengals now.

Still, the Raiders can completely end the Bengals playoff hopes. They very well might end the Marvin Lewis era too.

To win, the Raiders will need to continue improving their offense. They’ll need to show some sort of pass rush. It’s the same thing that’s been said all season long.

RIP Thomas Howard

I want to take this post to honor a former Raider, Thomas Howard.

Thomas Howard played Will, OLB for the Oakland Raiders and Bengals. He was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 2nd round out of UTEP. The linebacker showed great athleticism as a Raider, and was a fan favorite. I loved watching Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison lead the linebacker corps of the Mediocre Raiders Defense. Even though the two lacked the physical toughness to stop the run plays both players flashed potential. I loved Thomas Howard on his interceptions because his speed always gave him a chance to take it to the house. I remember voting for him for the pro bowl 07 when he had 6 interceptions. I never really understood why he fell out of favor with the Raiders. I hoped that the Bengals would give him an opportunity but he continued to get hurt. The man was only 30 years old when he died in a high speed car accident yesterday. If you want to know more you can type his name in Google. Outside of that, here is a short photo tribute to the big #53 and his time with with the Raiders. He finished his 8 year career with almost 500 tackles and 90 games played. He was most recently cut by the Falcons.

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