On September 30, the Oakland Raiders will welcome the Cleveland Browns to O.co. As a result of human nature, fans already checked the schedules to determine wins and losses. In the eyes of most, the Browns look like easy prey for the Raiders. Granted, they have won one of their last 32 games. Yet, football finds a way of surprising many. FPC Raiders writers Ray Aspuria, Chris Simmons, and Terrance Biggs each give a quick read on this trap game.
With the Raiders playing the lowly Browns, what if anything about the Cleveland roster that should concern you?
It is not so much concern, I am intrigued to see how rookie cornerback Denzel Ward and free-agent addition (and former Raider) TJ Carrie do in Cleveland. I am also interested to see how Raiders offensive tackles handle pass rusher Myles Garrett.
The scariest teams are the ones who live by the “why not us” logic. They are the teams that play spoiler or sneak up on teams they think they are better than they are. The Raiders have long had that very issue and with a better than you would think defense, the Raiders could find this game closer than they expected.
In all honesty, the fear is legitimate. If the Browns remain winless up until the Raiders host them, can you imagine the pressure to win? For the Raiders, a loss to a team that has not won a game since 2016, serves as a giant step back. Under Del Rio, the team struggled to put lesser opponents away and those losses cost them. With Jon Gruden, the hope remains that the Raiders will eliminate those Del Rio hiccups and press forward. In addition, Browns coach Hue Jackson could still have an axe to grind with the team. After all, while Oakland did make him a head coach, Reggie McKenzie ensured a one-year tenure and quick exit. Although Jackson will downplay his firing, anyone with pride wants a semblance of revenge.
While not the prettiest game on the schedule, the Raiders still need to dominate the Browns. In a season of such high expectations, a lackluster effort could signal that the team is not ready to contend. If the Raiders go out and handle Cleveland, it would show a dedication to not take anyone lightly.