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Cleveland Browns vs. Oakland Raiders

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Game: Cleveland Browns (1-1) vs. Oakland Raiders (0-2)
Where: McAfee Coliseum (Oakland, CA)
When: 4:05 PM EST
Announcers: Bill Macatee/Steve Beuerlein

In last week's preview, I made one firm statement: "Today's game is all about being competitive". To everyone's surprise, not only were the Browns competitive, we won the game. We scored 51 points. We responded every time the Bengals scored. Each of those statements deserved their own sentences to emphasize just how rare they occur with the Browns. Hopefully it's a sign of things to come, as Romeo Crennel has a shot at building his first two-game winning streak since becoming the Browns' head coach. The Browns defeated the Raiders last year, a team that has been very competitive this year despite starting at 0-2. This is the ideal situation for our first road game, because the conditions aren't too difficult on paper. The faith is restore in our offense, but now it's time to improve upon the defensive numbers below, including the one the says we're giving up 39.5 points per game thus far. Let's get to the breakdown of this week's game...

OFFENSE

Category Browns Raiders
Points Scored 29.0 (6th) 20.5 (12th)
Passing 251.5 (8th) 168.0 (26th)
Rushing 136.0 (9th) 146.0 (7th)
Total Offense (yards) 387.5 (7th) 314.0 (19th)

DEFENSE

Category Browns Raiders
Points Scored 39.5 (31st) 29.5 (28th)
Passing 276.5 (30th) 272.0 (29th)
Rushing 171.5 (29th) 206.0 (26th)
Total Defense (yards) 448.0 (32nd) 416.5 (28th)
- Quarterback
Derek Anderson's five-touchdown performance last week took everyone by surprise, but you'd have to be crazy to think he'd duplicate that performance this week. Thankfully, 79% of you voted that Anderson will only throw 1-2 touchdowns this week, which should be the norm if the Browns operate a smart gameplan. Meanwhile, the Oakland Raiders could be in the middle of a makeshift situation. Despite having JaMarcus Russell signed, he's not the man the Raiders would consider putting in. Although Josh McCown has done an ok job the past two weeks, Daunte Culpepper could see action at some point in the game. With that indecision at quarterback, the Browns have the edge.
- Running Back
I'm quite surprised that LaMont Jordan has run for an average of 114 yards per game, and 5.7 yards-per-carry over the first two weeks of the season. More surprising is the fact that he caught nine passes for 89 yards in Week 1 against the Detroit Lions, and the ran for 159 yards against the Denver Broncos last week. Jordan's versatility will be the bread and butter of Oakland's offense, so stopping him will be critical for the Browns' defense. The Raiders haven't been much better than the Browns at stopping the run due to a couple of holes up front. Jamal Lewis and Jordan should go at it all day on the ground back-and-forth.
- Receiver
Besides the Minnesota Vikings, there isn't another team in the NFL that are as thin at receiver than the Raiders are. Beyond Ronald Curry, who has 12 catches for 145 yards receiving, the Raiders' next best receiver is Jerry Porter, who only has three catches. Besides a couple of tight ends or fullbacks with a catch or two, nothing else is worth noting. The Browns had breakout games from Braylon Edwards, Joe Jurevicius, and Kellen Winslow last week. It doesn't take a genius in math to realize that three playmakers are better than one.
- Offensive Line
Personally, I'd almost negate the amount of sacks the Browns gave up in Week 1 due to Charlie Frye. The same negation shouldn't be applied to the Raiders though, as Josh McCown has been taken down seven times over the past two games. Both teams were outstanding at blocking the run last week, but the edge in pass protection should go to the Browns by far. The Raiders need to pay particular attention to Joe Thomas and Eric Steinbach, the left side of the Browns' offensive line. They were mauling the Bengals last week and will look to do the same thing this week.
- Defensive Line
Neither team really has a strong edge here. Robaire Smith had an above average game last week, but I think it's time that we started seeing more of Shaun Smith in the game, both at defensive tackle and defensive end. Getting pressure on the Raiders is possible if the rotation schemes are called early and often. The Raiders could be without their sack master, Derrick Burgess, who has only recorded one tackle this season. Burgess had 27 sacks over the past two seasons, but injuries have held him back and prevented Oakland from getting their usual amount of pressure. Even if he does play, he won't be 100%.
- Linebacker
Kamerion Wimbley has been double teamed for two weeks and has barely missed a couple of sacks. Call me optimistic, but I'm calling it this week: one and a half to two sacks for Wimbley against McCown or Culpepper. I'd actually think that seeing Culpepper in the game would benefit our pass rushes more, because he has not been able to feel pressure well since his days with the Vikings. Thomas Howard had a fantastic game for the Raiders defense last week, including a 44-yard interception return for a touchdown. Overall though, the Raiders' linebackers don't make a whole lot of noise, remaining their vulnerability defensively.
- Secondary
Two things to consider here by the Raiders' secondary: be fooled, but don't be fooled. The Raiders have not lived up to their expectations through the first two games, but the amount of young talent they have back there is sick. Nnamdi Asomugha and Fabian Washington have a nose for the football, and safety Michael Huff was the seventh overall pick last season. The Browns' secondary has given up ten touchdown passes in two weeks, and are probably going to be without safety Brodney Pool. I wish Gary Baxter was ready to play, but we'll probably be forced to see Mike Adams in there, a person that I didn't think was good enough to make our roster.
- Special Teams
The Raiders were victimized big time by Joshua Cribbs last year, but it's key to remember that the Raiders have two very powerful kickers: Sebastian Janikowski (kicker) and Shane Lechler (punter). On kickoffs, Janikowski can drive the ball into the end zone often, while Lechler can kick it deep and away from Cribbs. The Browns will probably be without Dave Zastudil this week due to injury, meaning Scott Player would get the start. Player has experience to make me comfortable, but it's still a short week that he had to build chemistry with a new team.
FINAL PREDICTION: Cleveland Browns 24, Oakland Raiders 14.
The drastic offensive turnaround from the Browns last week against the  Bengals under Derek Anderson restored hope among fans. The thing that no one around the league is looking at is how dominating the offensive line was: Cincinnati had no sacks, rarely got pressure, and were mauled on the ground. Anderson won't have the same success throwing the ball this week, but Jamal Lewis should have a great day against the Raiders defense. Until Oakland gains offensive stability, they won't be a winning football team.

This is the official gameday topic for the third game of the regular season, featuring the Cleveland Browns against the Oakland Raiders. All comments regarding the game should be posted in this topic. Enjoy the game, and GO BROWNS!!!