The Raiders are ranked last in rush offense, while the Browns are ranked last in rush defense. Do you see the Raiders finally being able to get their rushing game going against what appears to be a porous Browns rush defense?
This Cleveland run defense has struggled since the preseason and shows no signs of improving. The Browns have elected at times to give against the run to play cover defense, which has help the pass defense to a degree, but giving up 155 yards per game on the ground, 32nd in the NFL isn't going to win you many game in the long-run. This Cleveland defense has had issues containing the perimeter and with RBs that have cut-back ability, which should make for yet another interesting Sunday for the Browns defense.
2. The Browns have struggled to convert on third-down (just 33.3 percent of the time), and the Raiders are dead last in third-down stops. What is the key to the Raiders stopping the Browns on third down?
Getting the Browns into 3rd and long has be the goal of the Oakland defense. QB Brian Hoyer has displayed inconsistency on 3rd down, especially in the first half of game in the 2014 season. The Browns throughout the 2014 season have shown an ability to make big plays once the offense gets into a rhythm, especially when utilizing a hurry-up type look. If the Browns run the ball successfully, which they have all season, with the exception being the 24-6 loss in Jacksonville a week ago, the Raiders are likely to struggle, as the Browns passing game evolves off the ability to run the ball. /p>
3. With Josh Gordon still out due to suspension, who has become Brian Hoyer's go-to target? Who must the Raiders stop in order to slow down the Brown's offense?
WR Andrew Hawkins is the Browns leading receiver. While small in stature, Hawkins has made numerous big plays for this Browns offense throughout the 2014 season. TE Jordan Cameron has fought through an AC joint (shoulder) issue and hasn't been the primary receiver expected heading into the season. The speedy Travis Benjamin has been on the receiving end of three Hoyer touchdown passes, while veteran Miles Austin and Taylor Gabriel have made key contributions for the Browns offense. In the end, if the Raiders are unable to contain and control the run (Ben Tate and Isaiah Crowell), the Browns passing game will be effective.
4. The Raiders have found success in keeping rookie quarterback Derek Carr off of his back. How will the Browns look to attack a strong Raiders offensive line to get into the backfield and get to Carr?
Early in the season the Browns defense would blitz getting off the bus, exposing the CBs to man coverage and the results were underwhelming. Joe Haden and Buster Skrine gave up numerous big plays every week, forcing the Browns to take a much more conservative look coming from the defense. In recent weeks the Browns defense has elected to playing more zone with an aggressive situational blitz look, the results have been far more productive. The Browns staff liked rookie QB Derek Carr, he displays the ability to move and has a terrific arm. The worst case scenario for the Browns occurred when Oakland fired HC Dennis Allen and named Tony Sparano the HC, as Sparano appears to have removed the noose from Carr.
5. The Browns already have seven interceptions on the season. What has been the reason for their success in the secondary so far? Who are the most dangerous players in the secondary?
Haden gains the accolades in the defensive backfield, veteran safety Donte Whitner is a known name, but the play of free safety Tashaun Gipson has been of most positive impact. Gipson has four INTs on the season and has been the one Browns defensive player other than ILB Karlos Dansby making big plays on game-day. Timely pressure on the QB has forced poor throws and the Browns have been opportunistic in this regard.