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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Browns-Raiders game:
Browns run defense vs. Raiders RB Darren McFadden
Cleveland must be sound vs. Oakland's ground game, and it must be stout. Any mistakes that allow speedy RB Darren McFadden to get to the second level with a head of steam could be very costly. The 6-2, 210-pound McFadden, who's rushed for 519 yards on 91 carries, not only has an extra gear, but he runs with power. He will test the Browns' secondary on multiple fronts if he breaks loose. Already McFadden has seven rushes of 20 yards or more in 2011.
The Browns are most vulnerable on the edges, where they lack speed. Titans RB Chris Johnson has struggled mightily this season, but one of the few times where he's looked like his old self was on a 25-yard dash vs. Cleveland in Week Four. On the play, DRE Jayme Mitchell ran to his left in anticipation of Tennessee, which had placed its fullback on that side of the formation, running that way. Instead, Johnson took the hand-off and went left. OLB Chris Gocong was caught flat-footed and could not tackle Johnson, who broke free for his longest run of the season.
Overall, though, the Browns' defense has been respectable. Though the Browns have surrendered the eighth-most rushing yards per game (124.5 ypg), they are allowing a respectable 3.95 yards per carry, 13th-best in the NFL. Also, they have allowed just two rushes of 20 yards or more.
The Browns have particularly done well defending inside runs. DTs Ahytba Rubin and Phil Taylor are tough to move, and MLB D'Qwell Jackson (40 tackles) is having a wonderful season. That said, Oakland has been effective attacking the middle with the running game, averaging 4.71 yards per carry on 58 plays, according to NFL statistics.