Oakland Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns: Full Oakland Game Preview
The Oakland Raiders prepare to win their first game on the road since Week 11 of the 2013 season against the Houston Texans. This upstart Raiders team must break through more barriers to register as a real contender on the NFL schedule. Until then, the Raiders remain in the proving-grounds stage.
Oakland will take their talents out east against the Cleveland Browns, who earned their first victory of the season at home against the Tennessee Titans. The Browns are the least of the AFC North teams the Raiders play this year, but don’t overlook them.
Cleveland fields a top-five secondary that could cause fits for the Raiders passing attack. Safety Tashaun Gipson is tied with Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman for most interceptions (12) from 2013 to the current week.
Two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden starts the season with a rough patch, giving up two interceptions in two games, per Pro Football Focus, but he’s still a respectable challenge for wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper.
However, the Browns run defense ranks last in the league, on pace for allowing 160 yards per game. This matchup serves as the perfect time to feed running back Latavius Murray approximately 25-30 carries to test Cleveland’s interior defense.
We’ll dig deeper into the Raiders’ Week 3 matchup and delve into injuries, lineup changes and an outcome prediction.
Location: FirstSunday Energy; Cleveland, Ohio
Date: Sunday, Sept. 27
Time: 10:00 a.m. PT / 1:00 p.m. ET
Week 2 Results and Recap
|AFC West Standings|
|Kansas City Chiefs||1||1|
|San Diego Chargers||1||1|
Oakland didn’t have to wait until Week 12 to earn a victory. The enjoyment from the fanbase seemed as though a 1,000-pound gorilla jumped off the back off this franchise after an exhilarating win over the Baltimore Ravens.
The Raiders and Denver Broncos won their games in Week 2. Each team in the AFC West has won a game, but the Broncos are off to a quick 2-0 start.
News and Notes
Josh McCown Named Starter
Quarterback Johnny Manziel helped lead the Browns to a win in Week 2 but didn’t accomplish enough in a short audition to supplant McCown as the clear-cut starter.
According to Cleveland.com writer Tom Reed, Pettine feels McCown gives the team the best opportunity to win. Reed also reports that the team doesn’t plan on using Manziel in a special package of plays at the moment.
Head coach Jack Del Rio told local reporters that his team will continue to prepare for both quarterbacks.
“You’re preparing for both guys. You always do,” said Del Rio, regarding the Browns' quarterback situation. "You’re always aware of who the backup is and what they’re capable of.”
Benson Mayowa on the Mend
Based on the preseason, Benson Mayowa projected as a key player for the defense in 2015. Mayowa suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for the first two games of the season.
Del Rio didn’t commit to anything as far as Mayowa’s role upon return. He mentioned the defensive lineman’s continued efforts to work his way back into the rotation, but not necessarily a starting position at strong-side linebacker.
Derek Carr Addresses Road Challenge
At times, we forget the human element of the game. Playing on the road presents another set of problems for a visiting quarterback.
Quarterback Derek Carr must overcome the noise level at the Dawg Pound and find confidence in his ability to make plays despite a full stadium rooting against him—something he hasn’t done as a professional.
On Wednesday, Carr acknowledged the difficulties of playing on the road and embraces the challenge in front of him.
Oakland hasn’t won a road game in nearly two years. It’s another barrier for the second-year quarterback and this young team to conquer.
Latest Injury News
|Oakland Raiders Injury Report|
*DNP = Did not practice
*Limited = Limited participation in practice
*FP = Full participation in practice
Mayowa didn’t participate in Wednesday’s practice, despite Del Rio’s encouraging words about his injury update. The Raiders will continue to experiment with the strong-side linebacker position without him.
Defensive tackle Justin Ellis didn’t participate in the first practice of the week and remains a question mark with a left ankle injury.
The Browns backfield features a pair of young running backs in second-year player Isaiah Crowell and rookie Duke Johnson. Cleveland’s passing attack ranks 29th in yardage.
The Raiders would benefit from a healthy combination of meat and potatoes in Dan Williams and Ellis.
Defensive end Justin Tuck didn’t practice due to a knee issue that may or may not relate to his late-game injury in the sweltering heat against the Ravens in the previous game.
Expect to see safety Charles Woodson listed on the injury report for the near future. You should also expect to see him gut out performances week after week with one fully functional shoulder.
Key Matchup: Travis Benjamin vs. T.J. Carrie
Similar to Week 2, the Raiders' opponent has one explosive offensive weapon to blanket. Wide receiver Steve Smith caught 10 passes for 150 yards as the Ravens’ best weapon against the Raiders secondary.
Cornerback T.J. Carrie didn’t cover Smith for much of the damage inflicted by the wide receiver. Carrie allowed three catches for 39 yards in his last outing.
Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. may opt to show wide receiver Travis Benjamin different looks, but Carrie’s ability to cover ground quickly should warrant some one-on-one situations with the Browns’ best offensive weapon.
Benjamin scored three of the Browns’ four touchdowns in Week 2—two touchdown receptions and a punt return for a score.
The Browns’ rushing attack presents more of a threat, but it’s not explosive in the least bit. Both of Cleveland’s running backs average 3.4 yards per carry.
The Raiders can possibly lull the fans in Cleveland to sleep and hold the Browns under 14 points, pending their success in containing Benjamin on the outside.
Raiders’ X-Factor: Latavius Murray
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave must inject the offense with a heavy dose of Murray out of the backfield.
Anything less than 20 carries seems unacceptable against the worst run defense in the league, giving up 160 yards per game. Carr’s hot hand serves as the only justifiable reason not to run the ball in this favorable matchup for the rushing attack.
Murray has 26 rush attempts for 109 yards and a touchdown with six broken tackles. He’s averaging 4.2 yards per carry, indicating a decent amount of production when given the opportunity.
Another 100-yard game presents itself on a silver platter for Murray. Musgrave should start the game with Carr handing off early and often to Murray instead of forcing some early throws to Cooper for this particular matchup.
Game Prediction: Raiders 23, Browns 13
This isn’t a slam dunk for the Raiders. Carr must respect the Browns' stingy secondary with a couple of ball hawks lurking to force turnovers.
However, Oakland has the running back to exploit Cleveland’s weak interior defense that features a rookie, Danny Shelton, and Desmond Bryant who didn’t participate in Wednesday’s practice due to a shoulder injury, per the Browns’ official website.
Similar to the Ravens, the Browns lack offensive weapons, but their quarterback doesn’t compare to Joe Flacco running the offense.
McCown comes into this contest with a 4-12 record in his last 16 starts. He threw 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions with wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans as his primary weapons on offense in 2014 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
McCown isn’t the guy to fear running the Browns offense, and the rushing attack doesn’t have enough lift to put up points quickly.
Gary Barnidge is the tight end for the Browns, but McCown doesn’t have the accuracy of Andy Dalton or Flacco to exploit the Raiders’ poor coverage on tight ends this season.
The Raiders should win this game, but in a very different fashion in comparison to their Week 2 victory.
Oakland must run the ball, use play action to confuse Gipson in the secondary and match Carrie with Benjamin on the outside.
Raiders will avenge their loss to Cleveland in 2014 with the same score.
Raiders 23, Browns 13
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Week 2 statistics and play-by-play analysis provided by NFL.com.