Bengals vs. Raiders: Five things to watch

Posted at 4:08 AM, Sep 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-13 04:08:50-04

OAKLAND, Calif. - Here are some things to watch when the Bengals visit the Raiders on Sunday (4:25 p.m ET, CBS):

0-FOR-OAKLAND: The Bengals have never won a game in Oakland, losing their 10 previous trips, including a playoff game in 1975. In the last meeting at the Coliseum in 2009, the Raiders scored 10 points in the final 33 seconds to win 20-17. With the Raiders looking to move back to Los Angeles, this could be Cincinnati's final chance at a win in Oakland.

"The last time we went out there, we kind of gave the game away at the end," tackle Andrew Whitworth said. "Hopefully this time we can take care of business."

HUE'S HOMECOMING: The Raiders' closest brush with success the past 12 years came in 2011, when they finished 8-8 in a three-way tie for first in the AFC West. They missed out on the playoffs on a tiebreaker when they lost the season finale at home and coach Hue Jackson was then fired after his only season. Jackson makes his return to Oakland as Cincinnati's offensive coordinator. Jackson said the sting of his firing lasted for a year.

"The feeling is different," he said. "It's not as raw in my emotions as it was back then."

SACKS FOR MACK: After setting a franchise low with 22 sacks last season, one of the first things Jack Del Rio's new coaching staff did was move Khalil Mack from linebacker to defensive end. With fewer coverage responsibilities and more refined pass-rushing moves, Mack should significantly increase his sack total of four as a rookie.

"He has tremendous explosiveness," Lewis said. "He's comparable to guys who have played in that spot like Derrick Thomas and guys like that who are tremendous football player, not just rushers, but football players."

Aldon Smith signed Friday, then took part in his first practice with the Raiders in his familiar No. 99 and Del Rio said it was possible he could play against Cincinnati despite not practicing for the past five weeks. Del Rio said Smith arrived in good shape and teammate Justin Tuck said he thinks Smith can step in as a situational pass rusher very quickly.

AC/DC: The Raiders hope their search for a big-play receiver ended when they drafted Amari Cooper fourth overall. Oakland has not had a 1,000-yard receiver since Randy Moss in 2005, tied with Jacksonville for the longest drought. But with Cooper's polished route running to go along with second-year quarterback Derek Carr's strong arm, the Raiders are hoping to make music in the passing game for a change.

SUSPECT DEFENSE: After years of having one of the NFL's stingiest defenses, the Bengals dropped to 20th in the league last year. Dominating tackle Geno Atkins struggled at times in his return from knee surgery and end Michael Johnson left as a free agent for Tampa Bay. Atkins is now fully recovered, giving the Bengals hope they can increase their NFL-low 20 sacks. Johnson re-signed with the Bengals but will miss the opener with an ankle injury.