Raiders vs browns
Photo Credit: Getty Images

 

FSM Game Preview: Raiders vs Browns – Week 15

Franchise Sports Media

Las Vegas Raiders (6-7) | Cleveland Browns (7-6)

 

The Las Vegas Raiders are back on the road as they take on the Cleveland Browns in hopes of coming away with a much-needed win.

 

Raiders vs Browns
Photo Credit: Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders are back on the road for the second week in a row. However, this time they’ll be in Cleveland taking on the Browns as they are looking to right the wrongs of last week’s embarrassing loss to the Chiefs.

Both AFC teams are looking to find their way into the post-season. The Browns are in a 5-way tie for a wild card spot, while the Raiders are just on the outside looking in. Still in the running, this game might be the deciding factor on if the Raiders’ hopes live on or die on the banks of Lake Erie.

The Raiders have to figure out a way to get things rolling again offensively, while the defense will be looking to bounce back after Sunday’s stinker in Kansas City. As we come down the stretch, the next few games could go a long way in deciding the fate of many wearing Silver and Black, both on the field and in the front office.

 

Another disappointing outing by the Raiders offense has questions brewing. What needs to change? Who’s to blame? How to fix it?

 

Raiders vs Browns
Photo Credit: Fansided

In two games against their division rival, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Raiders were outscored 89-23, and it wasn’t even that close. The team is 1-5 in their last six games. In their five losses, the Raiders only scored more than one touchdown in a game once. The team hasn’t been able to find the end zone, so they settle for field goals. The pitfalls of the team on and off the field have been well covered, but the season remains. It’s now or never if the Raiders have any chances to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Due to a knee injury, the Raiders will again be without star-tight wend Darren Waller. The lone bright spot is that wide receiver Hunter Renfrow has had three consecutive games with eight catches and is tied with former receiver Ronald Curry for most in team history.

Quarterback Derek Carr has favored Renfrow as the season has gone on, and rightfully so. The former Clemson Tiger leads the team in receptions (86), receiving yards (877), and touchdowns (5). While Renfrow has enjoyed a breakout season, players such as Bryan Edwards haven’t had the second season many were hoping for despite flashing signs that he can blossom into something special one day. Zay Jones was looking to find new life in Silver and Black, but he too has only been able to show flashes of what made him such a touted player coming out of East Carolina.

DeSean Jackson was brought in to replace the team’s speed and deep threat ability when Henry Ruggs was lost for the year. While the veteran has shown he still has tread left on his tires, he doesn’t get nearly as many looks downfield as you’d think he would. It seems like a no-brainer; he’s either making big catches or drawing pass interference calls when targeted.

Given the team’s struggles and the possible weather in Cleveland, maybe the Raiders should consider giving backup Marcus Mariota more reps instead of just using him for one or two plays. His mobility could be a huge benefit if the conditions aren’t pass-friendly and would certainly give the team a new wrinkle to unfold and possibly spark some new life back into a group in desperation of one.

The Raiders need to find a way to get themselves back into a groove and shake things up. While this is not saying Carr has been the problem for the team’s struggles, the quarterback does get all the praise and the blame, so maybe a changing of the guard to see if that can get things turned around is worth a try.

 

The Raiders defense will have its work cut out for them if they want to earn a victory.

 

Raiders vs Browns
Photo Credit: Scott Galvin/USA TODAY Sports

The defensive unit will have to be prepared for this Browns unit that likes to run the ball down your throat. With one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, armed with one of the league’s top running backs in Nick Chubb, the Raiders run defense will have its work cut out for them.

The Browns will be without quarterback Baker Mayfield due to COVID-19 protocols, along with several other Browns players. But the Browns can still hurt a defense with their run game and play-action pass. So while Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby like to get upfield in their pass rush, this time around, they may need to pump the breaks and contain the outside leverage first, playing more run than pass.

This game will be decided at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The Raiders’ struggles on the offensive line matched up against a ferocious defensive line led by Myles Garret, a top-tier Browns offensive line across from a revamped Raiders defensive line. Who wins in the trenches will determine who wins this game.

The Raiders already have replaced starting members on their offensive line, their head coach, their starting wide receiver, and possibly their stud tight end. To overcome the obstacles this season is a lot to ask of any team, but the season must go on, and the team must still play games. They must continue to find ways to focus, prepare, and attack the task at hand. Weather, COVID-19 protocols, and injuries make this a challenging game to call. Nevertheless, it’s now or never for both teams in this 2021 season. It’s all but “win or go home.”  The Raiders need to remember the mantra and follow it by any means necessary for the remainder of the season.

Just Win Baby

 

The Raiders and Browns play Saturday at 1:30 pm at FirstEnergy Stadium and can be seen on NFLN.

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-Kalani Lua – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Kalani on Twitter @klua11

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