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Raiders vs Browns preview: What to watch for, storylines, match-ups

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Thearon W. Henderson

It's week eight of the NFL season and the Raiders are the land of Cleve to face the Browns. The Raiders are desperate for a win to stave off the possibility of an 0-16 season and with a tough schedule ahead, the Browns appear to be one of the only remaining winnable games.

The Browns are sitting at .500 and looking to remain a contender in a tight AFC Central race.

Carr parking on that record

Derek Carr is still sitting tied with Matt McGloin for the most touchdown passes by a Raiders rookie (8) after Carr didn't throw any touchdowns last week against the Cardinals. After he threw four touchdowns against the Chargers the week before, he seemed destined to surpass the record in the same number of games it took McGloin to set it (6) last season. Now he tries to set the record in his seventh game.

Chips a'Hoyer

Browns quarterback, Brian Hoyer, is pissed. He has had something to prove since he got to Cleveland and it seems he has something to prove every week. That continued when the Browns used a first round pick on Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Johnny Manziel. The chip on his shoulder grew ten sizes last week when he completed just 39% of his passes with two turnovers (interception, fumble) as the Browns were blown out by the winless Jacksonville Jaguars. Now they face the league's only other winless team and if Hoyer has another game like he did last week, the Manziel calls will get louder. He is a man on a mission this week and that is to absolutely not have another letdown against another upstart bottom dweller.

Ready to run

Expect a lot of ground game for both teams in this one. The Browns have one of the better stables of backs in the league in Ben Tate, Isaiah Crowell, and Terrance West. They run the ball more than most teams and the Raiders have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL so it only makes sense to stick with the ride that got you here. That is the kind of ground attack Tony Sparano aspires to have. And while the Raiders run defense is bad, the Browns run defense is equally horrendous. It seems like we say this every week, but expect to see some more Maurice Jones-Drew in this one. Simply because we should see more ground game altogether. Who knows if we'll actually see Latavius Murray.

Hey, Mr DJ

After two weeks of practice, D.J. Hayden has now been activated off the PUP list. It will be worth watching where Hayden lands on the depth chart and how much he plays initially. I wouldn't expect him to jump back into a starting role or even the nickel role. Especially not with as well as T.J. Carrie is playing. I would also expect Neiko Thorpe to step in as a backup safety for this game due to the position being thin with Usama Young lost for the season. Thorpe has experience as a safety and has the size to play the position as well.

Benson on the edges

Starting in place of the Lamarr Woodley, who was placed on injured reserve today, will be Benson Mayowa. It's been quite an ascension for the second-year undrafted defensive end out of Idaho. He appeared in two games for the Seahawks last season and was a standout in preseason, including 2 tackles for loss against the Raiders. The Seahawks waived him in their final round of cuts and the Raiders picked him up. Now he will get the start. It's a perfect situation for Mayowa. He has the opportunity to prove he can be a starter on the NFL level, or at very least a solid rotation player.

Greco roamin'

The Browns offensive line had a shake-up a couple weeks ago when Pro Bowl center and former Cal Bear, Alex Mack was lost for the season with an ankle injury. This had the Browns shifting right guard John Greco to the center position and starting formers Raiders third round pick, Paul McQuistan at right  guard. This arrangement was a large contributor to the Jaguars blowing out the Browns last week. The offense was out of sorts without Mack at center and McQuistan was a liability in pass protection. Hoyer was sacked three times and the run game was atrocious, mustering just 69 yards on the ground. These things can take a couple weeks to get used to so they may be better this week, but the opportunity for the Raiders' interior line to get some pressure is there.

Keep ‘em comin'

It's another week, and another Pro Bowl cornerback for Derek Carr to face. This week it's Joe Haden. Last week it was Patrick Peterson and Carr went 2 for 4 with Peterson committing two penalties. The two completions were for a two-yard loss and a 13-yard gain on the final play of the game - so, basically nothing. But Carr had great success against Darelle Revis in week three and Brandon Flowers in week six and has made it clear he won't stay away from guys like Haden so it will be another interesting match-up to see who gets the better of the other.

Less Miles

Each week that Miles Burris struggles, we wonder more and more when the Raiders will look at other options at middle linebacker. This week is the first week I could possibly see his snaps come down. The team has had Jamar Chaney on the roster for three weeks now so he has had time to learn the playbook and get acclimated to the team. Prior to this, there was really no other option than Burris. Now there is, so look to see if the team works Chaney into the game a bit more to see if perhaps he will be a better option than Burris going forward.

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