The 1-1-1 Cleveland Browns are headed to California to face the 0-3 Oakland Raiders—a team looking to end their downward spiral and maintain the high hopes they had coming into this season. The Browns recently named Baker Mayfield as their starting quarterback, and have found themselves with a shot of adrenaline coming into this match-up. Poor field conditions coupled with a long trip across three time zones means this will not be an easy journey for Cleveland, no matter the record of their opponent. The Browns have had 10 days rest to their advantage, and the team arrived early for adjustments to the time difference.
The Offense: The Sunday forecast is showing clear skies and a temperature of 71 degrees in Oakland. These are perfect conditions for Baker Mayfield to play his style of football. Todd Haley should start the offense fast and furious, and take advantage of the right-side vulnerability the Raiders have shown over the prior 3 weeks. Oakland’s linebacker Tahir Whitehead scored a PFF grade of just 29 in coverage against the Dolphins last week. Marcus Gilchrist at the strong safety position only scored a PFF grade of 49.4 in coverage. If either wide receivers Jarvis Landry or Antonio Callaway can beat cornerback Rashaan Melvin, it will be open season for Mayfield. In a three-wide receiver set, the door should also be wide open for big plays with tight end David Njoku.
After reviewing the passing charts from the 3 previous games, either side of the field will be open if the Browns strike quickly. They need to get the defense on it’s heels early and Mayfield will be able to pick them apart. The rush defense for the Raiders is ranked 22nd. If Mayfield is able to stretch the field with the passing game, the door will be wide open for Carlos Hyde to have a career game as well. The RPO system Todd Haley likes to use is practically built for games like this.
The Defense: The Raiders have two players the Browns defense will have to stop—quarterback Derek Carr and tight end Jared Cook. The one weakness this Cleveland defense still has is linebackers in coverage. Jared Cook does everything right to attack that, and with a PFF score of 79.2, he will be the key to Carr keeping this game close. Pro Bowl linebacker Joe Schobert will need to play some of the best football of his life.
Oakland’s offense is ranked 18th in rushing, while Cleveland’s defense is ranked 16th in stopping the run. This means Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch needs to see a lot of defensive end Myles Garrett. Browns might benefit from shifting to a 3-4 style of defense to make sure Garrett is free to keep Lynch check and minimize his yards after contact. Home games mean everything to Marshawn Lynch. He’s not playing for money or a new contract, but for the pride of his city. On the outside, watch for rookie cornerback Denzel Ward to keep Amari Cooper in check with help from strong safety Jabrill Peppers.
The Browns need to shut down the passing game with pressure from Larry Ogunjobi, keep Marshawn Lynch contained with Myles Garrett, and force bad throws to Amari Cooper. If they can do this, Baker Mayfield will put up the points needed to win this game.
I see this as another win, and first on Sunday for the Browns since 2015, as they begin the road to the playoffs.
Browns 31 Raiders 17
Written By: @Chadp71
Edited By: @Robzie_