Week 3 Preview: Oakland Raiders (1-1) @ Cleveland Browns (1-1)
Sunday, September 27, 10:00 AM PST on CBS
FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
It’s not a big stretch but I feel the Raiders will win their next matchup against the Cleveland Browns. Let’s look at the game in depth to see why.
Recap of Last week:
Raiders: Oakland had their best game in years on offense with a 37-33 home victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Derek Carr had a career day. Without much fan fare the Offensive Line had their best day in years with Carr barely getting touched all game. The OL and Carr were awful against the Bengal’s so this is a nice come back for them.
Carr is not a pure pocket passer so protecting him is a must for his success. In the first game against the Bengal’s he was rushed. Against the Ravens he was barely touched. Since college, Carr has struggled against a pass rush.
Another must is rolling him out and throwing deep which was done to perfection by proper play calling. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree had great games and there was plenty to smile about on offense.
The Defense is another story. They have been a sieve against the pass and are last or near last in many defensive categories including yards and scoring. They are also tied for last in sacks with 0. Khalil Mack had another forgettable game with only 1 tackle and no sacks all day. The only bright spots for the defense have been the run stopping abilities of Dan Williams and Justin Tuck who are thriving playing together. Curtis Lofton was hurt early in the first game but was a tackling machine in the win against the Ravens.
Cleveland: Cleveland also got a big win with a 28-14 romp of the Tennessee Titans in Cleveland. Johnny Manziel got lots of publicity due to his 2 touchdown passes, but he was only 8 for 15 for 172 yards and a 75% QBR. Manziel is now benched and Josh McCown will start. Neither QB is scary.
With WR Josh Gordon out for the year due to his 3rd suspension, the only real weapon the Browns offense has is WR Travis Benjamin who is also a great punt returner. He doesn’t catch a lot of passes but due to his speed, the ones that he does usually end up going a long play. The Browns running game right now is average only getting a little over 3 yards per attempt.
On defense they are better but still not world beaters. They have a good pass rush which was seen by an amazing 7 sacks last week, but the Browns run defense is ranked last in the NFL.
The Raiders will win if:
DEFENSE: The Raiders defense has been awful and only Chicago has been worse. What they need is for Khalil Mack to have a big game and Aldon Smith needs to step up and make a difference. The run game of Cleveland isn’t scary and I think this will be a game that the Raiders defense can play well in. I don’t see the Browns offense doing much this game.
T.J. Carrie will probably be on Benjamin and in reality the rest of the WR are not that good. Due to the Raiders safety situation, watch the tight ends for Cleveland. Tight ends have had huge numbers against the Raiders in the first 2 weeks.
OFFENSE: Carr had a great game and got all the credit but in reality the OL protected him like a fortress. If they continue to roll Carr out and throw deep; his 2 strengths; look for another good game from the young QB.
Latavius Murray will have his chance to shine. He should get 20-25 touches at RB and look for a 100 yard game and a touchdown. If the Raiders fall in love with the pass and don’t run, look for a much harder game. With this OL, the Raiders should be able to run well.
The Browns will win if:
DEFENSE: Cleveland needs to keep Carr in the pocket. Carr has really good accuracy on the run, so they need to put pressure on him when he rolls out. They also need to get to him to stop the 5 and 7 step long passes. He’s much better in the pocket when he has great protection than fighting pass rushers which he struggles with.
Players like Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers have amazing pocket awareness and footwork and can handle the rush without problems; ever since college it’s just not Carr’s talent. Carson Palmer is having a great year but his career shows he will make bad throws if he’s pressured. Arizona has allowed ZERO sacks and it’s not a coincidence that Palmer is having an amazing year so far.
The king of not handling a rush is Peyton Manning and he’s struggling. Denver’s OL is playing badly and Manning’s been sacked 7 times this season already and in some years at Indy he wasn’t sacked 10 times all year. Some QB’s can handle a pass rush and some can’t.
The Browns also need to take away the run game and make the Raiders more predictable so that they can unleash their pass rush. Cincinnati’s DL and corners played great in the first game and the Raiders had no answers.
OFFENSE: They will win if they can run the ball successfully. If they can’t run the ball then their passing game becomes predictable and their passing game isn’t very good.
McCown also needs to not be conservative and try to get the ball downfield to Benjamin. The Raiders are vulnerable against the pass and the Browns have not shown much of a passing game.
It’s amazing how bad west coast teams play when traveling east and playing the early game so that is a concern. The Raiders have lost their last 11 road games and their last 19 out of 20 being the visiting team. These are mind blowing statistics of futility.
I trust gamblers. It’s uncanny how right sports books are when making point spreads and they have the Browns as a 2.5 to 3.5 point favorite. Some sports books have 70% of the gamblers taking Cleveland.
As my followers know, I’m very unbiased though and I go by what I see, and I just don’t why everyone is picking Cleveland. The Browns are awful on offense and are terrible against the run on defense.
I see the Raiders having a good game on defense, and for Latavius Murray to have a solid if not spectacular 100 yard rushing game. Look for Khalil Mack and/or Aldon Smith to get their first sacks and for Curtis Lofton to lead the linebackers to improve their game. I don’t see a 300 yard epic passing game for Carr, but I do see a solid hard fought win. The Carrie v.s. Benjamin battle will be something to watch as well. Johnny Manziel coming off the bench is a probability.
This is a MUST win for the Raiders; the Browns are just not very good and road wins are at a premium. Good teams don’t lose games like these.
They have 6 tough AFC West games, along with games against the Steelers, Packers, and 3 more brutal early east coast travel games against the Bears, Lions, and Titans. I see the Raiders going to 2-1 with a hard fought win in the Dawg Pound and then look forward to playing the Chicago Bears.