The Las Vegas Raiders are on a four-game winning streak heading into the playoffs and a big reason they’ve been winning has been due to the defense. Defensive end Maxx Crosby has led the charge has he ended the season with more quarterback pressure than any other player, according to Pro Football Focus. The Cincinnati Bengals allowed 55 sacks this season so they’re going to have a long day trying to protect against Crosby on Saturday.
Though he didn’t get a sack against the team when they played earlier in the season, Crosby had a 61.5% pass rush win rate in that game, which was a season-high, per Next Gen Stats. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is a star in the making but there’s only so much he can do if he’s on his back for half the game. He knows that his team has to specifically prepare for Crosby.
“We’re going to have to have a plan for him,” Burrow said, via Ben Baby of ESPN.
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Bengals HC Says Crosby Among Best NFL Players
Crosby only had 8.0 sacks on the season, which doesn’t put him among the NFL’s elite. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Crosby’s 100 pressures on the season put him in elite company.
Bengals head coach Zac Taylor knows how relentless Crosby is and had some very high praise for the defensive end.
“He’s one of the best players in the NFL,” Taylor said, via Local 12. “He is. You have to have a plan for him. He can disrupt an entire game, and I’ve made this statement to others around here, outside the players in our locker room, he’s one of my favorite players in this league. How he goes about every single snap – run game, pass game. Leadership he’s showing on that team. He put them in position to be in the playoffs where they’re at right now. There’s a lot of players around this league you respect, he’s certainly top-notch.”
Bengals Are Aware of Raiders’ DL Talent
In the past, the Raiders have got by with having one or two capable defensive linemen. This season, the team has a few players they can use to rush the passer. Taylor has put a lot of focus on Las Vegas’ pass rush heading into the playoff matchup.
“Well we don’t ever want our quarterback to get hit, I think. Again, so, you gotta have a plan. It’s not like he’s the only one,” Taylor said. “They’ve got a lot of good players up front. They can call some pressure that can get home as well. You’re not just focused on one guy. That’s probably what they like about their defense. You’ve got Yannick [Ngakoue] on the other side. They’ve got really good interior guys. They’ve got Clelin Ferrell, first-round pick, who’s back there. [Malcolm] Koonce and [Carl] Nassib. So they got a lot of guys that can come off the edge as well and contribute from a back-up role, even. And then those guys up front can get you pressure, too. It’s just a really good front. And the guys behind them play really well as well.”
The Bengals have too many offensive weapons for the secondary to consistently shut down. The Raiders need their pass rush to be at its best if they hope to pull off the upset.