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Posted by Dec - 2 - 2012 0 Comment

The Browns and Raiders will tangle for the eighth time since 2000 today. This is the Browns sixth trip to the left coast among those meetings, of which the Raiders have won the last two in Oakland. Overall, the Browns are 4-3 versus the Raiders since returning in 1999. Last year’s meeting in Oakland ended with a 24-17 victory for a Raiders, and the home team as won each of the last three matchups. That could change today as the Browns and Raiders are 3-8 teams headed different directions. The Browns are carrying the momentum of an infrequent win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Raiders were shellacked in Cincinnati last week to the plucky Bengals 34-10, adding a fourth game to their current losing streak. Injuries and dissension among the troops in Oakland. LB Rolando McClain has been suspended by the team for the next two weeks, including today’s game, and there appears to be very little in the way of anything positive for the Raiders to build on right now. Injuries, poor play, and poor coaching have the Raiders in a downward spiral towards the season’s end and appear to be on their way to another top five draft pick in 2013.

The Browns are looking to finally seize momentum gained from a win and win back to back games since early last season (at Indy, then vs. the Dolphins). The slumping Raiders would appear to be the perfect candidate for the Browns to establish their first winning streak of 2012, but as is typically the case for the Browns nothing comes easy. Travelling to the west coast hasn’t been kind to the Browns in recent seasons, and today’s weather is expected to be monsoon-esque. Still, there are a few reasons to think the Browns absolutely should come home with a win today. Here’s why:

  • The Raiders are the walking wounded coming into today’s game. Missing defensive starters McClain and Richard Seymour will not help stop Trent Richardson. Offensively, the Raiders RBs Mike Goodson and Darren McFadden are both questionable on a day where weather is leveling the playing field and making the ability to run the ball effectively essential to win. While TRich is still not 100% with his rib injury, he proved to be healthy enough against a much better Steeler defense a week ago. Complimenting him is a newly energized Montario Hardesty who’s change of pace from Richardson appears to be something to look forward to as the Browns progress. On the other side of the ball, the Browns run defense is born again hard in no small part to the return of DTs Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor. Both made significant plays last week in the win over Pittsburgh, and should make an impact today against the reeling Raiders.
  • While the Browns passing offense isn’t exactly setting the world on fire, the Raiders 24th ranked pass defense is beyond suspect. Even with adverse weather conditions the Browns should find ways to move the ball through the air. Josh Gordon is showing improvement from week to week, and the improvement has appeared to motivate Greg Little to become a more dependable target. With Richardson proving to be a dependable receiver out of the backfield, getting the ball to playmakers in space on a field that will be difficult for defenders to change direction on could be exploited by the Browns today. And I hardly expect Pat Shurmur to shelve the passing game for a little wind and rain.
  • While on the subject of the weather, days like today can be won and lost with special teams. Today two of the better kickers in the league take the field in Sebastian Janikowski and Phil Dawson. Janikowski’s thunderous leg can still boom long field goals while Dawson continues to astound Browns fans with his sniper-like accuracy regardless of the conditions. Dawson’s league-leading consecutive made field goal streak of 27 is on the line in rainy Oakland today, and #28 would also become the all-time team record. Browns’ special teams played well against the Steelers last week, helping the Browns maintain the advantage in field position. When you win that battle, it allows you to be aggressive on defense, and the Browns certainly were that last week. If the Browns can do the same this week, it may be a long day for Carson Palmer.
  • Speaking of Palmer, he appears to have left his best football behind him in Cincinnati and is struggling mightily in trying to lead the Raiders back to respectability. It is very likely that fans will see former Buckeye QB Terrelle Pryor should Palmer continue to appear ineffective or the game gets away from Oakland early. That would allow Browns defensive coordinator a prime opportunity to allow his defense to pin their ears back and get after the Raiders. The sight of Pryor in the field would be the final wheel coming off the Raider wagon.

The formula for a Browns win today is as simple as they come. Control the ball and control the clock. The Raiders offense finds the end zone a rather difficult place to visit. (Not that the Browns make it a second home or anything.) By keeping them off the field and wearing down an already beat down defense, the Browns could find themselves on the winning side of a laugher today. While trying to avoid any notion of overconfidence, the Browns can take a lot of this season frustrations out on a Raider team that has very little sense of itself. If the Browns can avoid turning the ball over and making stupid penalties, they will come home winners easily.

Prediction: Browns 17, Raiders 3

Categories: Cleveland Browns, Featured

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