Bengals News

Bengals vs. Raiders: Three Matchups to Watch

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Aug 29, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) against the Chicago Bears in a preseason NFL football game at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 21-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

1. Andy Dalton vs. Derek Carr

Obviously the two quarterbacks won’t be on the field at the same time, but it will be intriguing to see which quarterback performs better on Sunday. While many NFL analysts have been high on Derek Carr, some haven’t recognized his talent–Carr was ranked 28th in Pro Football Focus’ quarterback rankings, while Dalton came in at 26th. Both quarterbacks struggle with extreme inconsistency from week to week, so while it’s possible that both quarterbacks perform well, it’s always possible that one of the two players (or even both) puts up a stinker in Week 1.

Andy Dalton is now the leader of one of the NFL’s most exciting offenses. With a duo that could be the league’s best running back tandem, a lethal receiving corps, a healthy Tyler Eifert and one of the league’s top offensive lines, Dalton is surrounded by talent that could help him become a solid NFL quarterback.

Taking on a Raiders secondary that looks like it could be one of the NFL’s worst, Dalton has a great chance to prove that he’s improved over the offseason. He has the weapons, he has the connection with Hue Jackson and he has no more excuses.

Sep 3, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) reacts during the preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Carr reminds me of a young Andy Dalton. Struggling to put up consistent production throughout his first NFL season, Carr threw 12 picks and was sacked 24 times. Despite this, Carr looked great at times; he threw for 3,270 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2014.

Carr’s top options at wide receiver are Amari Cooper, who’s drawn tons of hype since being drafted, and Michael Crabtree, a former first-round pick who spent the first six years of his NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers. At tight end, Oakland has Lee Smith, who is known for being the best blocking tight end in the league but not much of a threat in the passing game, Mychal Rivera, who has scored four touchdowns in each of his first two seasons and Clive Walford, a rookie out of the University of Miami.

Andy Dalton has the clear upper hand here. He has experience, the better offensive line, the better running game and the better pass-catchers. However, the game will be in Oakland, which could give Derek Carr and the Raiders some energy with the home-field advantage. I envision Dalton winning this matchup, but if there’s one thing I know about football, anything can happen on Sundays.