Raiders vs browns
Photo Credit: Lineups

Game Preview: Raiders vs. Browns – Week 8

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Las Vegas Raiders (3-3)  |  Cleveland Browns (5-2)

 

 

The Las Vegas Raiders head east to face off against the Cleveland Browns in a battle for a wild card spot.

 

Raiders vs Browns
Photo Credit: Raider Ramble

The Cleveland Browns sit at sixth in the AFC playoff picture with a 5-2 record. Meanwhile, the .500 Las Vegas Raiders are looking to get into the seventh-place spot or higher to reserve a wild-card spot in the new NFL playoff format. The NFL has expanded the playoff bracket to seven teams this year, meaning there is an extra wild card seed. This gives the Silver and Black a better chance to get a berth, but they need to play better defensively if they want to make a playoff run.

Sunday marks the first contest between the two clubs since their overtime thriller in Week 4 of the 2018 season when the Raiders defeated the Browns 45-42. This will be the Raiders’ first return to Cleveland at FirstEnergy Stadium since the 2015 season when the Raiders also took home a 27-20 victory. The Silver and Black own a 13-10 advantage in the all-time regular-season series against the Browns, having won the last two contests.

Winning this week’s matchup between these two football clubs could be a significant factor in who gets that last playoff spot later in this 2020 NFL season. The Browns are currently on track to earn only their third winning season as a franchise since 1999. They have not had a playoff appearance since 2002. The Raiders are looking to improve on last year’s 7-9 record and finish above .500 for the first time since 2015, which was also the last time they made the playoffs.

 

What to expect…

 

Raiders vs Browns
Photo Credit: The Enquirer

It is hard to predict what the Browns’ offense will do with a quarterback like Baker Mayfield. A young stud who can throw five touchdowns like his last performance against the Cincinnati Bengals can also get careless with his passes and throw three interceptions.

Cleveland will be without their number one receiver Odell Beckham Jr. who suffered a season-ending ACL tear. As a fan of football, you never like to see guys get hurt, but this does take a lot of pressure off Las Vegas’ secondary.

For Mayfield, it was an insanely good game last week that saw him shake off an 0-for-5 start to complete every pass other than his spike on the final drive for the remainder of the game. He was dominant and looked like the 2018 version of himself that Browns’ fans fell in love with during his rookie campaign.

However, the Raiders defense needs to come out with the same intensity and aggressive playcalling we saw in week five against the Kansas City Chiefs. The defensive line needs to cause havoc in the backfield for Mayfield. It is key that they keep him stationary in the pocket because Mayfield is far more comfortable rolling out than having to distribute with a collapsing pocket. Last week cornerback Trayvon Mullen posted a career-high eight tackles and added two passes defended. Linebacker Cory Littleton also recorded eight stops on the afternoon, tied for the team lead with Mullen, and safety Erik Harris tallied seven tackles of his own and forced his first career fumble.

 

On offense, Derek Carr has been superb, and he is taking on a secondary that was just shredded by Joe Burrow. Jon Gruden’s offensive gameplan should be an interesting one for this game.

 

Raiders vs Browns
Photo Credit: Dawgs By Nature

Wide receiver Nelson Agholor has been the surprise of the season, acting as one of the top deep threats for this Raiders’ offense. With injuries to rookie WRs Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards, Agholor has stepped up big time. Of course, Darren Waller remains Carr’s go-to receiving option. It seemingly does not matter who is guarding him or if the defense knows what’s coming. Waller gets fed and makes catches. It is so hard to stop the Raiders when they can rely on Waller to sustain so many drives with his receiving ability.

One person who needs to take the next step is Josh Jacobs. He is a great running back, and this Browns’ defense can be beaten on the ground. They rank 25th against the run, and Jacobs should shine. However, Jacobs has been a little inconsistent throughout the first half of this season due partly to the offensive line’s inconsistency. Trent Brown and Richie Incognito have missed multiple weeks due to injury and COVID-19. Gabe Jackson was ejected last week, and it showed in the Raiders’ running game. Getting Jacobs the ball out in space and between the tackles will be crucial for the Raiders’ offense in this game.

 

You can catch the Raiders vs. Browns Sunday on Fox with kickoff scheduled for 10:00 AM PT.

 

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Justin Brooks – Franchise Sports Media

Twitter: @Ayyeju5tin

Instagram: @Ayyeju5tin

 

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Raiders vs. Browns