Unbelievably, the Browns and Raiders are two very entertaining football teams to watch. While this game does not have the rivalry of Raiders versus Broncos and Steelers versus Browns, this game is setting up to be a very intense physical battle. Both teams are playing as hard as they have at any point during the season and these two franchises are playing their best football of the year.
Raiders Offense vs. Browns Defense
It hasn't been too long since the Browns and Raiders were thought to have drafted and solidified their quarterback positions for years to come. The Browns had a steal in the sliding Brady Quinn and the Raiders just drafted the greatest physical specimen at quarterback the league has ever seen. Jamarcus Russell has all the tools but despite his comeback against the Broncos one week ago, he does not have team confidence.
With Jamarcus Russell, you get a huge quarterback with a tremendous arm and excellent mobility. His ability to read a defense and ability to make the average throw remains a question and it is a question as to whether or not he will play against the Browns. Russell should take a good look at what has happened with Vince Young in Tennessee and take the steps to save his career before it is too late for him.
The Raiders have had great success with former Cleveland quarterbacks this year, although they have been somewhat fragile. It is possible the Browns will face their former quarterback, Charlie Frye this week instead of Russell. Charlie brings mobility and moxie to the lineup. He will often get himself into trouble with that mobility but he can make plays with his legs and when he gets a little confidence going, Frye can be an effective passer.
With all that said, forget about the quarterback position in this one. This is going to be a smash mouth physical game in which the men will be separated from the boys. The Raiders have running backs and a run blocking offensive line that will challenge the front seven of the Browns. The Browns have struggled against the run and the Raiders are running the ball very well. If they had any type of consistent passing attack, this Raiders team would be a top ten rushing team.
The Raiders have a three-headed attack with running backs Michael Bush, Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas. Bush and Fargas are bruising backs that punish the defender while McFadden is the speed back that just has not yet lived up to his potential. Darren was one of the most exciting running backs to ever step on the field in college but that skill has failed to transfer to the NFL. Michael Bush went from a top three pick to the fourth round due to a broken leg. He is just now getting back to where he was... this young man is running hard and he can break tackles.
Up front, the Browns have to step up and control the line of scrimmage. Ahtyba Rubin and Corey Williams are playing excellent football. They have controlled the line and allowed linebackers to step in and make plays.
No one has made more plays than newcomer Matt Roth. Roth has found a home in this Browns defense. He is not only showing the ability to rush the passer but he is consistent in sealing the edge and forcing the runs back inside.
Browns Offense vs. Raiders Defense
Quarterback Brady Quinn has been lost for the season due to a foot injury and Derek Anderson is poised to show the world what he is capable of doing. Anderson had so many drops it destroyed his confidence earlier in the season. Derek may not be an elite quarterback but he is much better than what we have seen this season. He is more than capable of leading an NFL franchise and he needs to show that in these final two contests.
One of the fans' biggest gripes during the Romeo Crennel era was the lack of opportunity given to Jerome Harrison. One of the biggest gripes of the Mangini era has been the lack of opportunity for Jerome Harrison. The Ghost has shined at every opportunity and the fans have begged for more. Last week, Harrison was finally given the opportunity to show what he can do and all he did was rush for 286 yards while scoring three touchdowns.
The Raiders are a much better defensive team than the Chiefs and it will be virtually impossible for Harrison to come close to those kinds of numbers but this is a grand opportunity for Jerome Harrison to highlight himself, as he is set to become a free agent following the season.
Harrison did not rush for 286 yards alone. He had an offensive line that played great throughout the contest and a fullback that paved the road for success. Fullback Lawrence Vickers isn't mentioned often as he is much underrated and he does not look to sell himself to those outside the team. The young man does whatever is asked of him. Play after play he is throwing everything he has into each individual possession. He plays the game the way the game was meant to be played.
The Browns offensive line is a different beast with Hank Fraley in the lineup at the right guard position. Everyone plays better and it is no coincidence that rookie center Alex Mack played his best game of the year with Fraley lined up beside him. Equally as important was moving Floyd Womack from right guard to right tackle. This unit was exceptionally mobile and they were blocking 20 yards down the field play after play. It was hard to take your eyes off the great runs but if you are a fan of offensive line play, last weeks contest is well worth replaying as it was classic.
Derek Anderson has missed the sure hands of Kellen Winslow throughout the season but Evan Moore could be exactly the type of weapon to get Anderson's confidence flowing. The young tight end will be the Browns not-so-secret weapon in this one. The Raiders defense is very tough to throw on without a quality pass catching tight end that can make a living in the middle of the field. Moore should have a big game in this one, as the outside will be blanketed.
Return ace Joshua Cribbs has put the "special" in special team since joining the league. Now he is redefining the position of returner. His power and explosiveness is second to none. To make this game even more exciting Raiders coach Tom Cable will challenge his special teams unit by challenging Joshua Cribbs by kicking to him. That makes this contest one to watch.