About the Author
Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
The Browns will have had two weeks to rest and prepare for the Raiders on Sunday, and they will have needed that time, for Oakland presents a major challenge for Cleveland.
The Raiders have playmakers in all three phases of the game, making them an especially tricky foe to play. Stop the Raiders' offense? P Shane Lechler, averaging an NFL-best 53.9 yards per attempt, can tilt field-position like no one else. PK Sebastian Janikowski has hit 5-of-6 field goals from 50 yards and out, including three in Oakland's win at Houston on Sunday.
The Raiders' offense possesses one of the NFL's strongest running games. RB Darren McFadden (91-519-3 in five games) can stress any defense with his speed. The Raiders' passing game has had its moments, too. The Raiders' pass protection is solid, and it has some receivers who can stretch the field.
If Cleveland, an underdog in this game, can pull the upset, its hopes could rest with its offense keeping the Raiders' 31st-ranked defense on the field as much as possible. The Raiders are 29th vs. the pass and 22nd vs. the run, so Cleveland has to believe it can have a balanced, productive attack on Sunday.
However, the Browns have a couple of significant injury concerns entering this week. CB Joe Haden (knee) and C Alex Mack (recovering from appendicitis) didn't practice on Monday. Each are among the best players at their respective positions in the AFC. Haden has already defended eight passes in four games, while Mack is an integral part of Cleveland's line, which has to deal with an Oakland defense featuring DTs Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly (combined seven sacks).
All told, it could take the Browns' best effort to date to beat Oakland. Cleveland hasn't beaten an opponent of this caliber. And this opponent has some unique strengths.