Let’s look at five keys to victory for the 3-3 Las Vegas Raiders at the 5-2 Cleveland Browns on Sunday:
Improved defensive execution:
On Monday, Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Las Vegas may make some lineup and scheme changes to improve a pass rush that generated just one hit and no sacks on Tom Brady in a 45-20 loss to the the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7.
The Raiders have just seven sacks in six games. Whatever the plan is, the Raiders must execute defensively. They will likely not be able to win with a repeat performance.
Make life hard for Mayfield, Landry and Hunt:
With top receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and top running back Nick Chubb out, the Raiders have an opportunity. But they must contain quarterback Baker Mayfield, receiver Jarvis Landry and running back Kareem Hunt. The Browns are still dangerous, but the Raiders’ defense must make it difficult for the top options. Also, Cleveland will be without tight end Austin Hooper as well.
Get Ruggs involved more:
The rookie receiver was targeted just three times against Tampa Bay. That’s not enough. Gruden admitted the Raiders have to get Ruggs the ball more, but he also said the No. 12 overall pick must win his one-on-one battles. It’s time for Ruggs, who has eight catches in four games, to be a focal point of the Raiders’ offense.
Run the ball well:
Josh Jacobs said he was embarrassed after getting just 17 yards on 10 carries last week. Jacobs is averaging just 3.4 yards a carry this season. If the Raiders have a chance to win this game, Jacobs is going to have to help carry the load.
Adjust to the elements:
The weather is not going to nice in Cleveland:
Forecast for 1 p.m. ET Sunday in Cleveland is for 43 degrees, showers and wind. Derek Carr's 68.9 rating in games played in temps below 50 degrees ranks 47th of 49 QBs since 2014 w/ 5+ starts in cold (ahead of Jeff Driskel, DeShone Kizer). #Raiders are 2-11 in those games— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) October 30, 2020
The Raiders have been practicing with wet balls all week. The team that handles in the bad conditions the best will probably win.
Yes, the home team has the advantage in theory, but once the ball starts slipping and sliding on the field — it’s game on. The Raiders have to keep their heads on a swivel on both sides of the ball after playing in near perfect weather all season so far,