Jon Gruden and his Las Vegas Raiders will come to Cleveland to take on the Cleveland Browns. The Raiders (3-3) come to town off a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Gruden is in the third year of his reunion tour as the Raiders head coach and has compiled an 11-24 record through two-plus seasons. This game could have playoff implications later. So, what will it take to bring down the Raiders Sunday at First Energy Stadium?
The Raiders come into Cleveland with the 21st ranked pass defense in the NFL. Baker Mayfield is coming off the best game of his career with five touchdown passes against the Bengals. Could Mayfield have another big performance? Sure, but we will all take efficient and a win.
The best thing for Mayfield’s confidence and the Browns would be another strong performance to take into the break. That doesn’t mean we need a five-touchdown game or 300 plus yards. We will take it, but don’t need it. Just go out and play smart football, limit turnovers, and win the football game.
Hunt has done a nice job since taking over for Nick Chubb, especially with the defenses he has faced in two of the last three weeks. During this stretch, Hunt has averaged 84.0 yards per game from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns. The Browns will need another solid performance to keep the offense balanced.
The Raiders come in with the 12th run defense, but, much like the Browns, that ranking is higher simply because they have a hard time stopping the passing game. This team can be beaten on the ground, so 20 plus touches for Hunt should be on the agenda.
The new, old guys
Odell Beckham Jr. is done for the year after trying to make a tackle in Cincinnati. The Browns had Rashard Higgins and Donovan Peoples-Jones step up and make some big plays in his stead. They will need that again this game and the rest of the year from them.
The Browns will also get some help this week as Khadarel Hodge comes off injured reserve to provide some depth. Hodge started the year as the third wideout, but a hamstring injury caused him to miss the last four games. Over the first three games of the season, he had three catches for 51 yards but should get even more opportunities with Beckham down.
The Browns will need all three of these guys to step it up to help offset the loss of Beckham if the Browns are to come out winners Sunday.
Garrett was just honored as the AFC’s defensive player of the month and has been the Browns’ clear MVP. Without Garrett wreaking havoc from all over the field, this defense would be so much worse than where it is. The strip-sacks and mistakes induced by his presence cover up how truly awful the coverage has been. They will need Garrett to once again make some big plays to slow the Raiders’ passing game.
Derek Carr has averaged 314.0 passing yards per game over his last three games and thrown for seven touchdowns and two interceptions. Overall, Carr has thrown 13 touchdowns on the season and has the highest yards per pass attempt of his career at 8.2. Carr is easily off to his best season since 2015. To avoid another shoot out, the Browns front must force Carr of his spots and mistakes, which is what Garrett does best.
Slow Darren Waller
Waller is as talented as they come at tight end. He easily leads the Raiders in receptions with 40 on the year. The next closest is 21 by Hunter Renfrow. To slow the passing game, you need to slow Waller.
The problem? The Browns haven’t slowed a tight end yet in 2020.
The Browns have allowed 40 receptions on the year to tight ends, which is sixth-most in the NFL per Pro Football Reference. They also have given up four touchdowns this year to tight ends. All those numbers and the Browns have yet to face a tight end close to Waller’s level this season. If Joe Woods and Kevin Stefanski can’t figure out a way to lessen Waller’s impact, it could be a long day.
Josh Jacobs has not been the same back he was a year ago. It does not matter. The Browns front must be ready to stop the run. Even with Jacobs only averaging 3.4 yards per carry, he will get carries and hurt you if discipline wavers. The Raiders offense averages 28.5 points per game, so the defense will need to be ready.
Browns Out Sunday
- Odell Beckham Jr.
- Nick Chubb
- Wyatt Teller
- Jacob Phillips
- Austin Hooper
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