Roundtable Discussion With Michael From RaidersGab: Browns at Raiders

With the Browns visiting the Raiders tomorrow, I thought it’d be a good idea to pick the brain of Michael Loede over at RaidersGab.com about Sunday’s match-up with the visiting Cleveland Browns. Mike is in a very interesting situation, as he’s a Raiders fan, but lives in the city of Cleveland. He roots for the Browns, but only when they’re not playing the Raiders.

In an attempt to bring the GAB sites together, I thought a “roundtable” of sorts would be a great idea. I asked Michael three simple questions:

Who, on Cleveland’s team, worries you the most?
Who needs to step-up for the Raiders in order for them to win?
What are your keys to victory for the Raiders?

His responses…

(On who worries him the most): “Being a Raider-Fan living in Cleveland, I get to see the Browns games week to week. My first thought and the most obvious answer to who worries us the most would have to be Payton Hillis. That being said, I think Oakland also has to worry about QB Colt McCoy. This kid can play and seems to do the most damage when he is flushed from the pocket and on the run. A scrambling McCoy is the one who can probably inflict the most damage to the Raiders this Sunday.”

(On who needs to step-up for Oakland): “After Jason Campbell’s poor play in last weeks win over Houston, he would be my answer. Campbell made a number of mistakes and almost cost the Raiders the game. Sure in the end, his numbers were OK, but the mistakes were costly.. He needs to remain focused and stay sharp this week, or the Black Hole could be in for a let down.. DHB will need to continue to use his speed and talent to burn the ailing Cleveland defensive backfield. Also, the Raiders secondary needs to improve. They rank 29th in the league and are allowing almost 300 yards per game in the air. McCoy could burn us with some big plays, so they will need to play heads up football this week against Cleveland.”

(Keys to victory for Oakland): “Obviously the fans are gonna be pumped up. Third sell-out in a row and the rest of the NFL is starting to notice that the Raiders are playing good ball. The keys to victory for Oakland are: patience – the Raiders need to play heads up football. They are getting killed with penalties. Smart football. They need to settle down and let the game-plan work for them. Offense: let Run DMC do what he does best. Oakland needs to dominate the line of scrimmage and watch DMC fly. Jason Campbell will not be passing against the Browns best back Joe Haden, and the other Browns are not as speedy as Oakland’s receivers. Campbell needs to throw the ball downfield. If he does that, it is gonna be a long day for the Cleveland Browns. Defense: Brown center Alex Mack may not be playing as well. That means the Cleveland offense will have to deal with an angry Richard Seymour. Oakland’s D need to attack, attack, attack and play good coverage. Hillis will get his yards, but if the Raiders D can keep McCoy under pressure, again, a long day for the Browns. It is gonna be a brutal, violent, smash mouth football game. The elderly, young children, and those with heart conditions probably shouldn’t watch this game”

And his prediction for the game? ML predicts – Oakland 38 Browns 14
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Anyone who reads BrownsGab.com, as well as my posts, knows that I absolutely refuse to predict scores for the Browns’ games. I will, however, complete the roundtable conversation and answer the same three questions for my Cleveland Browns.

Who worries me the most? – The obvious choices here are Darren McFadden and Jason Campbell, as the Raiders’ offense pretty much revolves around these two players. However, I decided on a less conventional pick and went with Darius Heyward-Bey. DHB was Oakland’s 1st Rd. draft pick a year ago, and was less-than impressive in rookie season. Just when it appeared that he was working on becoming a bust, DHB has appears to be turning the corner as a play-making WR over the last two games. In just his last two games, DHB has recorded 11 receptions for 214 yards and 1 TD. He only has 16 catches on the year, and 263 receiving yards with the 1 TD. With Cleveland’s star corner, Joe Haden, questionable for this game, DHB will benefit from not having the Browns best corner shutting him down. If DHB has a big game, they Browns D better hope they’ve contained Darren McFadden, or it could be blow-out city for Cleveland.

Who needs to step-up for Cleveland? – For me, it’s Peyton Hillis. After all the drama through the first four games concerning his contract situation, it’s time to put-up, or shut-up, for Hillis. There’s no doubt that he’s one of the more talented, physical backs in the NFL, but he has had only had one really good year so far in his career and that was last year. The hold-up on his contract situation appears to be the guaranteed length, not money. You almost have to applaud Heckert & Co. for not jumping the gun on Hillis after just one good season. With that said, I think Hillis is vital for Cleveland’s success on offense this season. As Hillis goes, so does the Cleveland offense. (See Indianapolis game). If Peyton can reestablish himself as a threat on both the ground and through the air, and do so successfully, the Browns should be able to move the ball on the Raiders D. Oakland’s defense isn’t as good as their offense and the Browns need to take advantage of that – with Hillis. Shurmur can’t expect Colt McCoy to throw the ball 61 times like he did in Cleveland’s loss to Tennessee and should rely heavily on Hillis. As he proved last year, he’s more than capable of carrying a heavy load.

Keys to victory for a Browns victory? – Wow. Where to start? First of all, Shurmur has to do a better job with the play-calling on offense. If he calls a more well-balanced game with a nice mix of passing and running plays, the offense should be just fine. If McCoy throws the ball 40+ times and Hillis has less than 20 touches, it’ll be a long day for the Browns offensively. On defense, they need to do a few things: be aggressive, contain McFadden and pressure Campbell. The Browns ‘D’ is ranked in the top ten in terms of total defense, but struggle against stopping the run which isn’t good news when facing the Raiders’ second-ranked rushing attack. Campbell is one of the more inconsistent QBs in the NFL, so getting pressure on him is critical. Not only will pressure on the QB (hopefully) create turnovers, it’ll prevent Oakland from being able to take (as many) shots down field. If Cleveland plays well on offense, and can (somewhat) contain Darren McFadden, they have a shot against the Raiders in what’s going to be an extremely emotional game in Oakland.
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Well, there you have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s ‘Roundtable Discussion’ about the Browns – Raiders game on Sunday. All that’s left to do, is watch the game!

As always, Go Browns!

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