The Cincinnati Bengals head into their home finale this Sunday. Facing the already out of playoff contention Oakland Raiders. Sunday’s game could one that defines this season.
This could be the de-facto season finale for the Bengals. A team still technically in the playoff hunt, but also seemingly out of it. At this rate though, many Bengals fans will likely spend their day elsewhere. The Bengals aren’t providing the ingredients for a blockbuster event. With the team one loss away from a third consecutive losing season.
The empty green seats of Paul Brown Stadium might be the most visible sight on Sunday. Instead of orange and black clad Bengals fans. Along with the black and silver of the Raiders. The Bengals most recent home game had the lowest paid attendance since 2011. It would be surprising if this Sunday’s attendance is any better than that.
This will be a matchup between two teams roughly in the same boat. The Bengals are currently 5-8 and the Raiders are 3-10. Both rank towards the bottom in the NFL defensively. Also, this might be the last game of the season where the Bengals are considered favorites. With games against the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers left.
Sunday’s game will be a reunion for several current and former Bengals. Starting with former Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. Hue Jackson was previously the Raiders head coach. He faced Oakland earlier this season while he was still the Browns head coach. Oakland won that game in overtime; the first of their three wins so far.
There are several former Bengals players currently on the Raiders roster. Including most notably Frostee Rucker and Emmanuel Lamur. Rucker spent six seasons with the Bengals between 2006-2011. Lamur was with the orange and black from 2012-2015. This is both Rucker and Lamur’s first season with Oakland.
Linebacker Lamur and defensive tackle Rucker will be two Raiders to watch on Sunday. It will be interesting to see how they fare against their former team. Joe Mixon and Jeff Driskel will be the main Bengals to watch on offense. Mixon was the Bengals standout playmaker on offense last week. On defense, Nick Vigil and Jessie Bates will be the main Bengals to watch. Especially since Vontaze Burfict will not play due to an injury.
Kickoff in Sunday’s game is scheduled for 1:00 PM Eastern.