For the first time this season, the Oakland Raiders are going to play a team with no playoff aspirations. It’s been a tough road, but the Raiders are entering a game against the Cincinnati Bengals that they must win. The Bengals are 0-8 and just got embarrassed by the Baltimore Ravens. While this should be an easy game for Oakland, Jon Gruden is still exercising caution as a loss to a winless team this late in the season would be disastrous.
“I don’t feel like we can respond to any of that stuff,” said Gruden after Monday’s practice. “I just watched the [Atlanta] Falcons go to New Orleans and beat them – and beat them bad. Miami goes on the road and beats Indianapolis, no one really expected that would happen. I try not to listen to the talk shows. I was a part of that for nine years. I turned the sound down. We’re going to get what we deserve. We have a long way to go, and a lot of things to overcome.”
Gruden also specifically spoke about the Bengals and how they’re better than their record.
“I know Cincinnati,” Gruden said. “I know those players. I know those coaches, two of them were on my staff last year. We’re going to get their best shot, and we better be ready to go or else.”
Teams fall for traps games all the time, but the game against the Bengals is a game that they must win. Cincinnati almost pulled off upset wins against the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills. They could be due for a surprise win.
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When a good team plays a bad team, the term trap game gets thrown around a lot. The problem is, the Raiders aren’t in a position to fall for a trap game. They’ve finally built some momentum and can’t take their foot off the gas. On the surface, the Bengals look incapable of winning a game. They’ve almost pulled off a couple of wins, but have been blown-out more often than not.
On the other hand, the Raiders haven’t beaten a team by more than one possession all season. Almost every win has come down to the wire. If they truly are a team that is playoff bound, they need to start beating bad teams by double digits. A win is a win, but the road to the Super Bowl is probably going to go through Kansas City, New England or Baltimore. Those teams blow-out teams like the Bengals. The Raiders need to do the same.
This is the chance for Oakland to make a statement. Falling for a trap game absolutely can not happen. If the Raiders are to lose, the may as well kiss their playoff hopes goodbye. Yes, they could still get in there, but it would seriously hurt their chances. This Raiders team is good and they proved that by beating good teams like the Detriot Lions and Indianapolis Colts. Now it’s time for them to prove that they’ve separated themselves from the lesser teams in the NFL.