Coming off a refreshing win at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cleveland Browns head west to take on the Oakland Raiders this Sunday. The Raiders are entering Sunday with the same record as the Browns and are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Here’s what the Browns need to be aware of this weekend.
At 32 years old, Carson Palmer is the Raiders’ field general. Overall, he is not having a bad year. With over 3,100 yards passing and 18 touchdown passes, Palmer has brought stability to the quarterback position for the Raiders. Five times this season Palmer has posted 300 yards passing or more. When the 32 yard old has the offense clicking, the Raiders really sneak up on teams. Palmer is not unfamiliar with the Browns either, having played in the AFC North for seven years.
When healthy, the Raiders hold arguably one of the top running backs in the league with Darren McFadden. However, due to nagging injuries, McFadden has been a huge disappointment this season. After McFadden, there is running back by comittee in Oakland. Marcel Reese, Mike Goodson, and fullback Jeremy Stewart make up the group. The Raiders like to use Stewart out of the backfield as a check down option. Last week, Stewart had six catches. The Browns need to hope McFadden is out this week, as he is still a handful to deal with.
Through the air, Palmer has three main targets; Denarius Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Brandon Myers. Both Moore and Heyward-Bey have put up identical numbers this year. Together they have 64 receptions, 1,044 yards, and nine touchdowns. What’s more impressive is that both average about 16 yards per reception. Myers, the Raiders’ four year veteran tight end is having a break out year. The 27 year old was finally given an opportunity in the offense and has flourished with 55 catches for 591 yards. Myers is a huge safety valve for Palmer and averages ten yards a reception. All three of these players make the silver and black offense go.
On the defensive side of the ball is where the Raiders are weak and vulnerable. The Oakland defense is ranked near the bottom of the NFL in every major category. They are ranked 25th in total yards given up per game (379 yards), 24th in pass defense and 28th in rush defense. Perhaps the most telling stat is the inability to get to the quarterback. The Raiders have only 13 sacks and rank dead last this season.
The Raiders’ version of D’Qwell Jackson is linebacker Philip Wheeler. With 84 tackles, Wheeler leads his team down in the trenches. Defensive end Matt Shaughnessy leads the team in sacks with three and a half. Twelve year veteran Richard Seymour is showing his age and veteran safety Michael Huff is the only decent threat in the secondary. Linebacker Rolando McClain hits hard and has be known to force fumbles. Despite these few players, there should not be one single player on defense that Browns’ offense should fear.
The savvy Raiders’ veteran kicker Sebastian Janikowski is their X-factor. With his booming leg, Janikowski can make a kick from just about anywhere. The thirteen year player has a 96% pct on the season with a long of 55 yards.
The Browns must game plan towards these individuals. There is no reason whatsoever why Cleveland can’t win this football game.
Ryan Ruiz – Cleveland Browns Writer
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