Behind rookies, Raiders nearing battle for AFC West's top spot with Chiefs

OAKLAND, Calif. -- It wasn’t pretty, and it was harder than it probably should have been against a winless team, but the Oakland Raiders kept their playoff drive on schedule with a 17-10 defeat of the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

The victory closed out a 3-0 homestand for Oakland, which improved to 6-4.

And with a game at the New York Jets (3-7) next week, the Raiders remain on pace to face the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Dec. 1 with first place in the AFC West on the line.

Describe the game in two words: Rookie. Standouts. Defensive end Maxx Crosby had four sacks, defensive back Trayvon Mullen had a game-sealing interception, tight end Foster Moreau caught a touchdown pass and running back Josh Jacobs went over 100 yards rushing for the fourth time. Nuff said.

Buy on a breakout performance: This is becoming a regular thing for Jacobs, the No. 24 overall pick who rushed for 112 yards on 23 carries, the fourth time he has gone over the century mark this season. Jacobs broke a tie with Hall of Famer Marcus Allen for most 100-yard rushing games by a rookie in franchise history. Still, Jacobs’ first-quarter fumble at the Bengals’ 15-yard line was costly, as it ended with a Cincinnati touchdown drive.

Promising trend: The continued development of rookie edge rushers Crosby and Clelin Ferrell, who have started calling themselves “Salt and Pepper.” Because one play after Ferrell, the No. 4 overall draft pick, knocked down a Ryan Finley pass on the Bengals’ opening series, Crosby broke through to strip-sack Finley, and second-year defensive tackle Maurice Hurst recovered the fumble. This comes a game after Crosby had 10 pressures against the Chargers and Ferrell had five pressures, per NFL Next Gen Stats, and 2.5 sacks. And yes, Crosby’s four sacks were a franchise record for a rookie, eclipsing the three Greg Townsend had against the Giants on Nov. 27, 1983.

QB Breakdown: Derek Carr completed his first 14 passes (his 15th was slightly behind Darren Waller and bounced off the tight end’s hands in the end zone) and finished an efficient 25-of-29 for 292 yards with a TD and an interception. He also ran in from 3 yards out on a scramble that saw him leap into the end zone while pushing the football forward ... with both hands (he lost fumbles through the end zone diving for the pylon with one hand at Green Bay and against the Cowboys two years ago).

Eye-popping NextGen Stat: Raiders receivers were able to create a lot of separation in the first half. They were open (3-plus yards of separation) on 67% of their targets and averaged 4.4 yards of separation.