The Browns are on a roll. This is another game I had circled as a potentially winnable one for the Browns, and it still is. However, some things have changed for both teams that make this one difficult to predict, and those things are centered around focused on (thanks, Grammar Police) the quarterback position for both clubs. DA! Charlie Frye/JaMarcus Russell! Saddle up!
Can Jerome Harrison pick up where he left off? Are the Raiders dumb enough to kick the ball to Josh Cribbs? Is DA humble enough to stop throwing it to the other team? Is the Browns defense going to show up like they did against Pittsburgh, or is the version we saw that couldn’t stop Matt Freaking Cassel going to appear again? The Raiders’ offense is statistically the only one in the NFL worse than the Browns’ offense (fewer rushing AND passing yards per game, and fewer points per game). Their defense is a bit better than the Browns’, allowing one fewer point per game and roughly 25 fewer yards per game. In short, another barn-burner! Without further ado…
The Browns Will Win If…
DP (Originally Flying Solo This Week, Hence The Novel): …they keep running the ball. First things first, our Raiders’ guest blogger points out that our hopes of seeing Chaz Frye may not be dashed after all, as The Mustache himself is back in the saddle with a chance for some modicum of revenge. I see this as a good thing for the Browns, for two reasons: 1) we all know how bad a QB Charlie Frye is, and he’s recovering from a concussion so it’s possible he actually thinks he’s good right now, and 2) if he really is trying to prove something to the Browns (odd, since the regime/team that drafted and then traded him is long gone) and tries to do way more than he’s capable of, that should hopefully mean some mistakes for the Browns’ defense to capitalize on.
That’s not to say the Browns don’t have their own QB issues to work with. Ideally, I’d love to see Derek Anderson’s final stat line read with 10 attempts. In other words, the Raiders’ defense isn’t so great that the Browns should get away from what won them the game last week: riding Jerome Harrison. Mix in Chris Jennings and Flash Cribbs, and the recipe for winning this game is to let Charlie Frye make mistakes and then play keep-away with the run game. If DA does throw the ball, it’s going to be very important for him to keep it in the same zip code as his receivers. Unfortunately, with the revolving door at wideout this year, it’s hard to imagine that DA has a lot of chemistry with the guys playing wide receiver this Sunday, and as we’ve seen in the past when the WRs aren’t on the same page as the QB it tends to make the passing game look comically bad.
On defense, the Browns need to play the run as well as possible. I just don’t fear Charlie Frye or even JaMarcus Russell should he find his way into the game. It’s going to be Michael Bush and Run DMC that can damage Cleveland’s defense. That’s why controlling the clock on offense with the run game for Cleveland will be so important. The longer the California guys have to sit on the sidelines in the cold without running their offense, the better I like the Browns’ rush defense’s chances.
Finally, there’s Cribbs. As we’ll see below, Tom Cable is not afraid of him (cue Al-Davis-as-Yoda: “You will be. You will be.“) and the Raiders do have a kicker who can put the ball pretty deep. But, it’s no secret that Cribbs is the main reason the Browns were able to hang around on Sunday with his two 100+ yard kick returns for scores. If he can make the Raiders pay for kicking to him and also contribute on offense like he did against Pittsburgh, it goes a long way to helping the Browns establish a lead and control the clock.
Scott (Because He’s A Champ): …they somehow keep finding ways to put up more points than the other team. Whether it’s via more super human efforts by Josh Cribbs and Jerome Harrison or Derek Anderson remembers how to be a quarterback in the NFL, we should be able to top any team that is led by Charlie Frye. Michael Bush will need to be contained, but assuming that the Rob Ryan led defense can get to Frye, we know what he does under pressure. The Raiders are awful against the run, so here’s hoping that Daboll sticks to what got him a win last week. Yes! We! Can!
Here Comes TD Here Comes TD Right Down TD Lane: …I don’t know who is going to win or how the Browns can win. All I can say is the two starting QBs in this game are Derek Anderson and Charlie Frye. There is something I never in my wildest dreams I ever thought I’d see again. If that isn’t reason enough to watch the game, I don’t know what is! Over/under of Jerome Harrison yards is 75. I like the under seeing as though the Raiders actually have a respectable run D and will dare DA to beat them with his erratic arm. I still cannot believe I’m going to see DA vs Frye!!!
Craig Crashes the party: …First and foremost, I wanted to plug the largely impromptu WFNY get-together at the Happy Dog on Saturday December 26th on Cleveland’s beautiful west side. Festivities begin about 9:00 PM. Probably a bit before… Anyway, the Browns will win if they get another big running game. I just don’t have any faith that a capable Derek Anderson is going to show up in Cleveland in December. Other than that, I am pretty sure the Browns could be pretty vulnerable to the Raiders running attack.
Now, for the other side of the coin. We reached out to a few Raiders bloggers, and Chris Shellcroft from Just Blog Baby took the challenge. Chris is a Los Angeles native whose Raider Roots can be traced to those glorious years when Al Davis was kind enough to share the passion of the “Just Win Baby” attitude with Southern California. A graduate of California State University of Northridge, Chris is a working professional in the entertainment industry and has worked on feature films such as “The Chronicles of Riddick” and reality television hits like “The Last Comic Standing”. A die hard sports fan with a huge Left Coast bias, Chris is a walking encyclopedia of all things sports related this side of the Mississippi. His goals are to capture the pride of the Raider Nation and represent the Silver and Black faithful world wide. Without further ado…
The Raiders Will Win If…
…they can stop the run. Of course since the Silver and Black are ranked near the bottom of the NFL in run defense and they’re preparing to face a guy who just pushed Jim Brown out of the Cleveland record book, then stopping the run becomes much easier said than done. Then there’s this little matter of kicking to one Joshua Cribbs. Sebastian Janikowski’s mega leg will factor heavily into the outcome of this game. The Raiders have had some serious struggles in kick coverage and Tom Cable has already said he won’t shy away from kicking to Cribbs. Then there’s the revenge factor. Charlie Frye will get the start this Sunday meaning he gets a chance to stick it to Derek Anderson for forcing him out of his home state back in 2007. Since Cleveland is the only team ranked lower than the Raiders in passing offense, Nnamdi Asomugha should expect a boring afternoon. It would be shocking if the NFL’s least picked on corner sees much action come his way this Sunday.
What say, there, fuzzy britches?