The long-awaited return of Carson Palmer comes at an excellent time for the Bengals. They are playing at the top of their game, and Oakland’s roster is full of areas that can be exploited. The Raiders’ offense has seen Darius Heyward-Bay develop a chemistry with Palmer, but DHB has been hampered by a hamstring injury. Other than that, there is no receiver that is so dangerous that the Bengals need to be worried.
Against the run, the Raiders’ offensive line is struggling to adapt to coordinator Greg Knapp’s zone-running scheme. Super-fullback Marcel Reece has filled in for Darren McFadden to sub-par results, but McFadden is more of a downhill runner that has struggled every time he has been inserted into a zone-running scheme.
Defensively, the Raiders have a good pair of safeties, but overall their secondary struggles and will be carved up by Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. Their front seven is the strength of the defense, but still struggle to create pressure against the pass. Mohammed Sanu and Jermaine Gresham will likely continue to play well, but expecting BenJarvus Green-Ellis to continue his adequacy might be a stretch.
Still, it will be enough to win handily. Palmer said he would never step foot again in Paul Brown Stadium, but his team will play so badly that he will wish he never did.
Cincinnati 35, Oakland 17