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Week 3 Preview: Raiders at Browns


The Sports Xchange

Oakland Raiders (1-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-1)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland – TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Carter Blackburn, Chris Simms

*Keys to the game: Johnny Manziel’s first career win and a 133.9 passer rating earned him an ushered trip back to the Browns’ sideline with Josh McCown (concussion) cleared to return. McCown’s bravado got him hurt, but that’s also the trait coach Mike Pettine loves in the 36-year-old. The Raiders can use it against him if the secondary holds up, particularly containing deep threat WR Travis Benjamin, who has three 50-plus-yard touchdowns through two games. McCown is mobile, although Isaiah Crowell’s 4.8-yard average per rush last week should lead to more attempts on early downs and keep McCown in one piece.

The Raiders might have their best quarterback since Rich Gannon in Derek Carr. He tossed three touchdowns last week and is using RB Latavius Murray as a receiver when he’s in trouble. The easy-to-identify key to Oakland winning on the road this week is the blocking up front. Cleveland dominated the line of scrimmage to overwhelm the Titans in Week 2, and the Raiders are particularly sweating their right side – OG J’Marcus Webb and OT Austin Howard – keeping Browns DEs Desmond Bryant and Armonty Bryant off of Carr.

*Matchup to watch – Browns CB Joe Haden vs. Raiders WR Amari Cooper: Two elite young players in a prove-it matchup that poses some danger for Carr because of his unnerving willingness to trust Cooper to go get the 50-50 balls. Haden is a clamp-down cornerback who works well in tandem with FS Tashaun Gipson, the AFC leader in total interceptions (seven) the past two seasons.

*Player spotlight – Raiders WR Seth Roberts: Carr hasn’t clicked with his tight ends and with the need for a third receiver to emerge, he found Roberts, an undrafted free agent from West Alabama who spent 2014 on the practice squad, for the game-winning score last week.

*Fast facts: The Browns beat the Raiders 23-13 on Oct. 26 last season. … The Raiders have lost 11 consecutive road games and are 1-15 away from Oakland the past two seasons.


Derek Carr and the young Raiders give the Browns a test, but fold to a better running game and more complete defense in the second half.

*Our pick: Browns 23-15.

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