Who: No. 4 Cincinnati Bengals (10-7) vs. No. 5 Las Vegas Raiders (10-7)
When: 4:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
TV/Radio: NBC, Peacock, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7
Series history: The Raiders lead 21-12, including 2-0 in postseason, though the Bengals have won four of the past five meetings, and five of the last seven.
Last game: The teams met in Week 11, and the Bengals pulled away with a 19-point fourth quarter, helped by two takeaways in the final five minutes. Eli Apple intercepted Derek Carr to set up a Joe Mixon touchdown and Trey Hendrickson forced a fumble on a sack, which Sam Hubbard recovered and returned 43 yards to set up a field goal. Mixon rushed for 123 yards on 30 carries, despite a slow start. Tight end Darren Waller managed 116 yards receiving for the Raiders. Evan McPherson kicked four field goals, including three for more than 50 yards.
Postseason history: The Bengals are 5-14 in playoff games with two Super Bowl appearances in 1988 and 1981 but no championships. They’ve lost eight straight playoff games, a streak that began with a 20-10 loss to the Raiders (in Los Angeles) in the divisional round after a blowout win against Houston in the wild card round. This is the organization’s first postseason trip since 2015. … The Raiders are 25-19 in playoff games with three Super Bowl championships in five appearances. This is their first appearance since the 2016 season, but their last postseason victory was 2002 when they made a run to the Super Bowl, losing to the Tampa Bay Bucs. After beating the Bengals in the 1990 divisional round, they lost in the conference championship against the Bills.
Coaches: Cincinnati’s Zac Taylor is 16-32-1 in three seasons; Las Vegas’ Rich Bisaccia is 7-5 since becoming interim coach on Oct. 11 to replace Jon Gruden.
Bengals notes: The Bengals rank in a tie for seventh with 27.0 points per game, and their 259.0 passing yards per game ranks seventh as well. Joe Burrow has a franchise-record 4,611 yards passing and 34 touchdowns but struggled early in the season with interceptions. He has 14 picks on the season but none in the last four games he played. His 70.4 percent completion rate leads the league among regular starters. … Joe Mixon’s 1,205 yards rushing ranks third best in the league, and he has 13 rushing touchdowns. … Ja’Marr Chase broke Chad Johnson’s single-season receiving yards record with 1,455 yards on 81 catches and he also has 13 touchdowns. He has 22 catches for 20 yards or more. … Tee Higgins topped 1,000 yards in his second season, sitting at 1,091 yards and six touchdowns on 74 catches. … Tyler Boyd has been solid on third down and adds 828 yards and five touchdowns. … The defense went from recording just 17 sacks in 2020 to finishing off 42 sacks in 2021. Trey Hendrickson leads with 14 sacks, Sam Hubbard adds 7.5 sacks and Larry Ogunjobi has 7.0. … The Bengals bring the fifth-best run defense in the league, allowing 102.5 rushing yards per game.
Raiders notes: Derek Carr’s 4,804 yards passing ranks sixth best in the league, just above Burrow, but while he has the same number of interceptions (14), he only has 23 touchdown passes. He has 67 passes of 20 yards or more (second to Tom Brady), and much of his targets go to Hunter Renfrow (1,038 yards, 9 TDs on 103 receptions) and tight end Darren Waller (665 yards, 2 TDs on 55 catches in 11 games). … Josh Jacobs has rushed for 872 yards and nine touchdowns but especially came on strong in the last three games when he topped 125 yards in two of those appearances. … The Raiders defense sits in the middle of the pack in most categories, but they are known to bring good pressure to opposing quarterbacks with Maxx Crosby (8.0 sacks) and Yannick Ngakoue (10.0 sacks). Linebacker Denzel Perryman leads with 154.0 combined tackles. Defensive tackle Darius Philon tore his patellar tendon in the regular-season finale win over the Chargers.
Quoted: “These games are special. You’ve earned this opportunity. It’s the best against the best. Everybody who is earning a spot on this AFC side is going to be a really dang good football team. It’s going to be a battle, just like we’ve had these last couple weeks.” – Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor
Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals 24, Las Vegas Raiders 14