Raiders-Browns Should Be Another Close Finish

Al's WingmanAnalyst IDecember 23, 2009

The Cleveland Browns have struggled for most of this NFL season but have won two games in a row. 

Like the Oakland Raiders, the Browns have beaten the Steelers and the Chiefs

For both Cleveland and Oakland, beating Pittsburgh is a very rare occurrence.  The Browns have to be riding high after putting away the lowly Chiefs last weekend. 

It does not seem to be a coincidence the Raiders are confident as well coming off a last-minute victory against the Broncos.

So the timing couldn't be better for these teams to meet.  Each has everything still to play for as far as consistency and finishing out the season in good form.

The Browns and Raiders generally play an evenly matched contest.  Interestingly, weather usually plays a big factor with their games as well. 

In Oakland a few years ago, Charlie Frye capped a win for the Browns in a rainstorm in sloppy field conditions.  This year, Frye will likely be starting for the Raiders in freezing field conditions in Cleveland.

Can the Oakland run defense play well for a second straight week?  They have not strung together solid defensive performances in a row all season.  When the run defense is playing well, they give their offense a chance to win. 

So the Raiders defense will need to keep up the pace against the Browns, who are expected to lean on their run game.

Cleveland's Derek Anderson has to be considered one of the worst passing QBs in the NFL.  He has been largely unimpressive since he somehow earned a multi-million dollar contract a few years back. 

It seems The Browns and Raiders have that in common as well, each with an overpaid, under-producing quarterback on their roster.

Even if the run game is successful for either side, the passing game can't be ruled out, regardless of weather.  You just have to figure both teams will go for broke at this point no matter who their quarterback is. 

Both head coaches are fighting to keep their respective jobs and will likely air out the playbook.  Even the conservative Eric Mangini is likely to do what he has to do to keep the momentum going for his team.

Can we expect another Red Right 88 finale?  It could very well end up that way.  Browns-Raiders is usually tight. 

Personnel-wise, these teams match up evenly.  The edge may go to Cleveland since they have an explosive return specialist in Joshua Cribbs. The Raiders have shown next to nothing from their kick return game this season.

Despite a big win last week over Denver, a convincing loss to Cleveland will likely seal the fate of Tom Cable.  You are only as good as your last game, so expect Cable to try everything possible to free up his skill players and post some points.  

I would expect to see McFadden run some deep routes and Bush to get the inside handoffs after Fargas gets his obligatory carries, probably in the first few series as he usually does.