By Ryan Leong
The way the Oakland Raiders are struggling, they need any advantage they can take at this point to get a few more wins under their belt. The good news is they take on the 3-8 Cleveland Browns and the game is at the Coliseum. But the bad news is the Browns have won three-of-six after an 0-5 start.
Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has thrown seven touchdowns and four interceptions in those six games. However, the Browns three wins are all at home and they haven’t posted a road win in over 14 months. Cleveland has 17 rookies, nearly a third of its 53-man roster. But the team’s confidence has to be at a high having beaten the Pittsburgh Steelers last week.
Weeden suffered a concussion against the Steelers but was cleared to practice on Wednesday. If he can’t go, then Colt McCoy will get the start. Last year, McCoy passed for 215 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-17 loss on Oct. 16 at Oakland. That loss started a 12-game road losing streak. The Browns last road win was Sept. 18, 2011 over the Indianapolis Colts.
The Raiders will have a hard time trying to stop running back Trent Richardson. Over his last two games, Richardson has 407 rushing yards and two TDs. He had 85 yards rushing, including a go-ahead 15-yard score in the third quarter, last Sunday.
Oakland’s defense has been a franchise worst over the last month. Four straight losses, surrendering 169 points, 728 rushing yards, and nine touchdowns.
The conditions for the run game will be challenging with rain having drenched the Bay Area since Wednesday. Rain is forecast throughout the weekend, and that will turn the Coliseum field into a marsh. Browns kicker Phil Dawson has made his last 27 field goal attempts and that streak could be in jeopardy with such difficult playing conditions. There is an 80 percent chance of rain on Sunday with wind gusts that could reach up to 45 mph.
On defense, one of the key contributors is cornerback Joe Haden. The Browns are 3-3 with him and 0-5 without him. Haden served a suspension for using the banned stimulant Adderall and missed four games against the Bengals, Bills, Ravens and Giants. He also missed the game in Dallas with an oblique injury.
Cleveland’s run defense has been stifling. Last week, the Browns held Pittsburgh to 49 yards rushing, the fewest allowed by a Cleveland opponent in nine years. Imagine what they could do to the Raiders, who rank 29th in rushing. Oakland’s ground game has failed to get on track all season.
Rookie receiver Josh Gordon is improving each week. He had four catches for 60 yards against Pittsburgh last week. Mohamed Massaquoi represents the other wideout threat and while he had only three catches for 27 yards vs. the Steelers, all three catches were instrumental in the win.
All-time, the Raiders lead the series 11-8. Since 2003, the Browns lead the series 4-3, but the Raiders have won two of the last three including last year’s contest at the Coliseum.
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Ryan Leong has reported on over 2,800 games in the Bay Area since 1998, covering the Sharks, Giants, A’s, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders and the local college teams for radio networks and wire services. Having the best seat in the house to watch sports has been a thrill and Ryan still enjoys going to the games giving fans some insight and perspective on the players and coaches. His work can be found on Examiner.com.